How Much is Too Much Honesty With Kids?

Last week there was a funeral at the school across from Dash2's preschool.  The hearse was parked smack across from the door.  The preschool parents were, to put it delicately, freaking out.  Most were nervous of dismissal coinciding with the casket being moved to the vehicle and the damage this might do to their kids.  I was touched by their sympathy for the family.

Most of these parents hadn't had the life and death discussion with their kids and were none too pleased that they might have this discussion on the way home.  I'm not so surprised by this.  If you don't have a reason to talk about death with your 4 or 5 year old,  you don't.

But we do.   We tell our kids everything.  Well,  almost everything. Sometimes we twist the truth a little.  I have been known to occasionally to tell the kids that the pool was closed on some random Wednesday because it was only slightly cooler than the surface of the sun and I didn't want to have a argument discussion on why we weren't going to the pool.  And yes folks, when your dragging little kids, there are times when its too hot for even the pool.  But in regards to the big stuff in life, we don't sugar coat too much around here.

Now that's not to say that I've sat down my kids in a row on the couch and told them that we are all dying, I go for the more age appropriate approach.  The two older boys, almost 5 and almost 7 have a fish tank in their room.  Over the summer they caught a little fish and put him in the tank with the others we had bought from the pet store.  Turns out that it was a small mouth bass and in 5 months has grown like a weed and eaten every other fish in the tank.   The boys started noticing the fish going missing, they also noticed half of a fish hanging out of Bob's {the bass} mouth.  There was really no lying about that.  We talked about how some of the fish had died, they simply don't live forever and Bob had eaten them.  Naturally they had some questions , if a fish dies what does that mean for us?

So I did it.  I told them that we aren't going to live forever either.   Granted I told them that their chances of being eaten by a Bob the bass where very slim.People get old or sick or old AND sick and our bodies sometimes just don't work anymore.  We believe in a heaven so we had that discussion as well.  Dash2 is very concerned with their being an abundance of Hershey's chocolate and apple juice and Dash1 wants to make sure he has his iPod and Nintendo DS.  Clearly they were absorbing all this.

When I find myself wondering if we should shield our kids from death or not, I find myself wondering if my husband's job has something to do with our willingness to talk about all this.  Our boys have an age appropriate idea of what their dad does.  They know he's a Marine and that he flies around, they understand that bad people do bad things and that men and women like daddy have a very important job. They get war.  We've been at war their entire life.  And for us, war isn't a concept that is limited to a blip on the news here or there.

I know a lot of folks who shield their kids away from the dark stuff.  The innocence of childhood is an amazing thing.  So far, I don't think we taken that away from them. What they do have is some idea that the world is not always as neat and pretty as we would wish.  And on a very positive note?  They seem to understand even better the importance of their dad and the men and women like him who serve day and night to try and make it as neat and pretty as they can.  We certainly need that from future generations.

Leanne is the mother of three rambunctious little boys and the wife of a Marine. Her days are filled with laundry, shuttling kids around, helping with homework, volunteering, dodging nerf bullets, repeatedly putting the toilet seat down, and tripping over flight boots. It truly is the American Dream.  While she is living the American Dream in the northeast she is also tweeting it at @mrs_flyboy

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