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Children and death....

Why do so many parents want to hide death from children? Yes, this is sparked by some posts here, the bedtime prayer one, some about how to hide a pets death etc. I honestly don't understand why someone would want to hide that from their kids, or act like death doesn't happen. We discuss death in a very matter of fact way here.."If your body gets too damaged to work right that is when you die". That is the basic explanation my younger children got when their great grandmother died, then again a few months later when my father died. My older child got a little more detail (he was 7 at the time). But I honestly don't see the fear that parent's have of exposing their children to that. Maybe my kids have just been exposed to it more than many children have to deal with. But it has made me wonder about the thoughts that many parents have on this topic.

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Asked by Anonymous at 7:11 PM on Sep. 23, 2009 in General Parenting

Answers (8)
  • I speak pretty matter of factly with my children about death. The other day we were along the sidewalk, and found a dead bird. I wouldn't let them touch it, but we stopped to examine the bird, and discussed different ways it might have died. We then pushed it off into the grass and talked about how the ants and bugs were going to eat it. They weren't upset or anything, its just a part of life, so that is how we treat it.

    Answer by my2.5boys at 7:18 PM on Sep. 23, 2009

  • It depends on the age of the child and also maturity level. Relatives dying is a must to explain, very hard concept to grasp at a young age, but it should be explained. My daughters learned about death at a very oung age, 5 and 6 when their grandpa died unexpectedly, and one of them was traumatized for life.

    Answer by older at 7:18 PM on Sep. 23, 2009

  • I don't hide it but I it really is a sensitive topic and I think there needs to be a respect forthat... especially for young children. We have hads many deaths these past years. My grandma, grandpa, uncle, friend's husband, and my sister's cat. My sister is 10 now, but she is a very sensitive person, and some of these deaths were pretty traumatic.... like my uncle's suicide. When my mom approaches her she does it in a senstive way and only tells her as much as she can handle and at the appropriate time.

    Answer by Precious333 at 7:24 PM on Sep. 23, 2009

  • I think kids can handle more than we give them credit for. I grew up on a farm and death was part of life. I understood really young what death meant and that is ok. I think honesty is the best...obviously if your child cant handle it than leave out the specifics.

    Answer by crazy4u49033 at 7:26 PM on Sep. 23, 2009

  • I think that as a society we are hugely removed from both birth and death and it does us a huge disservice. We don't live on a farm but we have "critters" here - hawks catching and eating stuff in our yard, dead owl in the yard, coyotes hunting - all circle of life.

    When my grandma died years ago, we were as honest as we could be with our 3 & 4 yr. olds. They really did well with the information. And this year FIL died. The kids were 11, 9 &4. We were honest and answered all of their questions. The only thing we would not let them do is see him die. It was hard enough for us adults.

    Answer by balagan_imma at 8:01 PM on Sep. 23, 2009

  • I don't. My uncle died when my son was 2 1/2 and we explained to him that his uncle died and is Heaven and will be his angel. We didn't go into detail why he died, just that God needed him in Heaven. He understands about "old people" but when my friends baby died, he didn't understand why God would take a baby. (BTW, he is 13 and still doesn't get that one). There are plenty of books out there to explain death to kids. Death is NOT something that should be hidden from a child. It just needs to be explained in terms they will understand.

    Answer by tyfry7496 at 9:22 PM on Sep. 23, 2009

  • I don't hide it but as a general rule in American culture death is a taboo and we shouldn't discuss it period. I know adults who honestly, do not understand death at all and they have a hard time accepted the permanence because no one taught them as a child.

    Good Night Moon in my opinion is a very good tool when talking about death.

    Answer by OneToughMami at 10:16 PM on Sep. 23, 2009

  • My father passed very suddenly on July 5th. I have a 4 yr old that was asking questions. I try to explain that the doctors could not make him better. He doesn't understand why. He occasionally asks me if my dad is better yet. I tell him again that he is gone, he died, and he is now in heaven, which only opens up a whole new can of worms. I keep explaining, and I am sure one day he will get it. I did not however have him at the funeral home or the funeral.

    Answer by salexander at 10:21 PM on Sep. 23, 2009

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