Talking the Truth: "Mommy Don't Die!"
For most people, death is a subject that is hard to talk about.... Sadly, it can sometimes take the death of a celebrity that makes us think about our own mortality. This weekend, I couldn't help but think about the loss of Whitney Houston and how much pain her daughter Bobbi Kristina much be in. It made me think about my own life... Bobbi Kristina is 18 and she can't process her mother's death. How could my sweet 4 year old ever process death, if something god forbid happened to me....
Though I'm only 4 years into this thing (parenting, that is), I have always maintained that honest, straight forward, and simple information is the key to helping my child understand about the world. But while I believe it's important to tell the truth, I don't necessarily think that it has to be blunt... There's a way that I can talk about scary things like death without having to make it grim and morbid. I think.
Take a recent conversation I had in the car with my son. Out of nowhere:
Son: Mommy, I don't want you to die.
Son: You're a wonderful mommy. So nice. So silly. And I love you so much. I don't want you to die.
Me: Baby, I'm not going to die.
Son: But someday- yes.
Me: Someday, yes. But in many, many, many, MANY years.
Son: No, I think in a few days.
Me: No, sweetheart. Not for a long time. Not while you're alive. Never.
Son: How long?
Me: I'm not dying for at least 642 years.
Son: But mommy, when you die who will be my mommy?
Me: Well, my love. You only have one mommy... But you will never be alone. You have a family that loves you...
Son: Will I have a Step Mommy?
Me: If Daddy gets married. Yes, you will.
Son: Or a Step Daddy?
Me: Yes. One day. When I get married, you'll have a Step Daddy.
Son: Can a Step Mommy be my mommy if you die?
Me: Yes. A Step Mommy will love you as much as I love you. And a Step Mommy will have rules like I have rules.
Son: Like a Stepdaddy?
Me: Yes. Like a Step Daddy. But you will always only have one Daddy. And always only have one Mommy. Understand?
Son: Yes. I understand.
Me: Are you worried?
Son: Yes. Because I don't want you to die. And I don't want to die.....
Me: I know, sweetheart. It feels scary. But I promise. I will always keep you safe. And I am not going anywhere.
Son: Mommy, tell me about how I'm a little part of Daddy and a little part of you...
Me: Like... where babies come from?
Son: Yes. How part of me came from daddy and then went into your stomach.
GULP WITH A PILE OF OY VEY
... Let's just say that I uttered a lot of "ums" and "what do you think" type deflections during the remainder of the conversation.... which ultimately resulted in using words like "penis and sperm." Yah. Not a conversation I was prepared for in anyway. However, he now knows the truth (minus the fact that it's called "sex.") As for the death portion of the show... well, I'm happy to continue convincing him that I'll be around for 642 years. At the rate of our conversations and his questions, I think there are plenty of other things to worry about.
When it comes to big topics like sex or death, do you tell your kids the truth?