Thursday, October 05, 2006

what kids need to know

A young coworker, who is a mom of a 1½ year old toddler, came to me in tears this morning. Her little son’s best friend died last night. Nobody knows why the little boy died as of yet. Yesterday he was playing at daycare; today he’s dead. We both cried a bit as we talked about how to let her little boy know…if she should even let him know.
You see, the mother of the little boy who died is the daycare teacher for my friend’s son. The two little boys played together every day, and just yesterday the teacher mentioned how so inseparable the two tykes had become.

My advice: if the mom doesn’t come back to teach at the daycare, then tell her son that they moved away. A young child not even two years old doesn’t need to know the hard truth in life that little boys can die suddenly. I don’t know if this is good advice, but it’s what I said. Probably not, now that I think about it some more. Chances are her son will learn the truth as people talk about it at the daycare school. This is so heartbreakingly sad. I know that kids around the world deal with death at such a young age due to starvation, disease, war....but we Americans are so sheltered. We have hissies when our internet connection is lost or our football team loses, or someone talks too loud on their cell phone at the grocery store.

We sometimes forget to see all the blessings we have. Food. Shelter. Family. Love. The unconditional love of a child.

At four years of age, my son knows about God, heaven, hell, good choices and bad choices, and how each and every day we get to make choices to be either on God’s team or the Devil’s team. He knows my parents are both in heaven with God. He is such a little bundle of love. He always tells me how much he loves me, cuddles with me and sometimes voices his fear that I will die and leave him or that he will die and leave me. We talk about it when he feels the need and I reassure him as best I can, without having a crystal ball to look into the future. We talk of him being a grown man and I’ll be an old grandma someday.

I have no good answers for my friend or for the many people who face tragedy every day due to freak accidents, sickness, madmen…other than to love with all our might. Hug your kids, tell them you love them. They need to hear it. You need to show it. They need to know they are loved.
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theresa said...

I agree, the child shouldn't be told about death. That is too much to put on a child's mind at that age unneccessarily. If it were a parent, then yes. Just my opionion

Jamie Dawn said...

The kid isn't even two yet. I'd tell him his friend is in heaven and leave it at that, or better yet, wait until he asks about it before saying anything at all.
Kids can handle a lot more than we think, but we have to be willing to thoroughly explain and then answer all their questions.
At under two though, I would not be inclined to get into a discussion about death unless it was a very close family member who died.

Ellen said...

Tough situation for sure.

I remember my Mom telling me stories about her childhood, and how they held funerals in homes, not parlors. Not only did they make them last about a week or so, they also made everyone go up and kiss the departed goodbye. Needless to say, my Mom was so scarred by the experience, she never put us through that.

Even though it's a part of life, it's awfully hard to explain the facts of life to a young child where death is concerned.

ablondeblogger said...

Aww, that is so, so sad. What a difficult situation. You're right. The child might hear others talk and then not only have to deal with the issue of death, but of his parents lying to him on top of it.

You're so right about counting our blessings and not sweating the small stuff!

TheCleaningWoman said...

Very, very sad.

I don't think a child under two will be able to really process much about death. He might wonder where his friend has gone but I think he'll probably forget in a short time.

If you really want some good advice on this, visit my pal Alison at Woman and Child first - she's a child psychologist (from Health-Psych) - she'd probably give you some advice.

Saur♥Kraut said...

How very sad. However, I agree with Jamie Dawn. Avoiding the discussion of death is to do a disservice to the child. Death is a part of life. (I say this as a quasi-retired counselor with a doctorate).

Still, at the age of two, he won't remember much of what happened anyway, so it's a moot point. If the child were 5, I would definately advocate telling the child the truth.