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How to tell children about teachers death?

Posted by on Apr. 30, 2012 at 2:04 PM
  • 10 Replies

My son is in 1st and my daughter in 3rd. 

I'm not sure if anyone has read about/heard about this but recently a NH school teacher was shot and killed by her husband. 

this teacher was a former teacher at our school and still local teacher.

my daughters teacher left class upset when she heard of the shooting, as they were friends. The Sub that came in told the class that the teacher was upset because here friend, another teacher, had died. 

my children got off the bus, asking "How" the teacher died and "why" ~ I simply said that something very tragic had happened.

over the last few days my daughter keeps bringing it up, asking "why", "what", "how" ~ I'm sure there are probably other students talking about this , especially the older ones.

How "honest" should I be with her in regards to this?

by on Apr. 30, 2012 at 2:04 PM
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by on Apr. 30, 2012 at 2:09 PM

I woudl be honest.  They are how old?  6-8 years old?  I think they should know, besides, I can promise you the rumors are much more "graphic" probably than what you could muster up in the truth :/.

by on Apr. 30, 2012 at 2:09 PM
I would just tell her the truth. She will find out sooner or later and may be upset if you don't tell her. I have twins that are in 3rd grade and when some question comes up about what their bio mom did when she would disappear I would basically tell them what I knew for sure. Just simply tell you dd that the teacher husband did something really bad and hurt her really badly. Just keep it as honest as you can but not dramatic.
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by on Apr. 30, 2012 at 2:11 PM

I would be honest and tell the truth.

by on Apr. 30, 2012 at 2:18 PM
I would tell her she was killed, and that you don't know the details other then what the news is reporting.
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by on Apr. 30, 2012 at 2:22 PM
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It is not always easy as a parent, but the best policy is always honesty.  Yes, it's age appropriate honesty, but truth nonetheless.

I don't think you need to share the details. Thinking of my two (4th grader, age 9 1/2 and 2nd grader, age 7 1/2), I'd probably say something like, "Sometimes people do bad things. In this case, a man was mad at his wife (jealous? Mad? I don't know the backstory) and instead of dealing with in a way that normal people do, he killed her. It's very sad. Not only did this woman die, but now the man will be arrested (or has been?) and will likely end up spending time in jail because he made a very awful decision." I would also stress, thinking of my easily rattled child, that such behavior is NOT common and there is no reason to assume every time adults have an disagreement that one of them will become violent.

I believe that if kids know enough to ask the question, they deserve an honest answer. Clearly it is being discussed which means it comes down to this: either you give her the answers in a controlled and supportive environment or someone else will. Parental honesty arms children against wrong information, inflammotory, etc. kwim? It also lays ground work for the future. A child that is given enough respect to have his/her answers handled with truthfulness and openness is more likely to continue coming to their parents as they get older.  Teach them now that they can come to you about anything by being willing to respond.

The fact is you did try to downplay it already and she's still coming back to you with questions. This means she's not satisfied and she needs more of an explanation. Again, either you give her one with honesty in an age appropriate manner or she'll just give up asking and find answers on her own-- that may or may not be accurate or age appropriate. Today it's this news story. Tomorrow?

Good luck. I know it's not easy. It's sad your children had to have a link to such a tragic story and had this peek of the 'not rainbows and sunshine' aspect of the world. :(

by on Apr. 30, 2012 at 2:40 PM
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 one of my DD's school counselor died and we went to the lady's funeral. the principal and a bunch of teachers and kids were there too. it's helped bring closure. the family, at graveside released butterflies and told the kids whenevber they see butterflies from now on, remember Ms. Carol. Carol died almost 8 yrs ago, and butterflies still make my DD smile. 

by Bronze Member on Apr. 30, 2012 at 3:07 PM

 I agree you need to be honest.  They are probably hearing different stories at school and they are coming to you to for an answer.

by Bronze Member on Apr. 30, 2012 at 3:17 PM

 Do you happen to be in Richmond, Indiana? The reason I ask is our local news (Ohio) just posted something about a 6th grade teacher being shot and her 7th grade daughter finding her. She was pregnant. Or is this a totally unrelated story.

As for your kids I would just be as honest with them as possible but reassure them that no matter what they are safe with you. I think your daughter doesn't want details so much as she wants to know she is safe and so are you.

by Gold Member on Apr. 30, 2012 at 3:35 PM

Hmmm, very hard to explain. I think I would say "Someone shot her with a gun for no good reason and she died. Some people do bad things and hurt other people. He is now in jail for that."   My kids have watched some of the morning or evening news with me over the yrs and heard stories like this, so they know this bad stuff happens and people go to jail because of it. It is the job of the police to catch these bad guys and lock them up so they don't hurt anyone else.

by Bronze Member on Apr. 30, 2012 at 4:20 PM

I'm so sorry.  What a horrible tragedy.

Have you tried contacting the school's guidance counselor to see if he/she has any advice on how you could explain and how much you should explain about the teacher's death?

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