7am Sunday morning.
Coffee not yet in my cup.
Standing at the kitchen island, getting my bearings.
Viv: “Mama, why does everyone die?”
To be honest, I cannot remember exactly what I said. I’m pretty sure it didn’t make coherent sense. Something about making the life we do have more precious. I know I assured her that people usually don’t die for a long long time.
The thoughts going through her little head are maturing, growing more complex, growing more thoughtful. I wrote my college application essay on how I love spending time around children because they challenge you. They force you to question and re-examine your most basic beliefs. It is refreshing and interesting – she has definitely started to challenge me.
So what is the appropriate reaction?
There are two tactics I have used so far, when Viv asks me serious questions.
1. Ask questions back.
“What do you think ___ means?”
“What made you think of ___ ?”
“Who was talking about ___ ?”
“How does ___ make you feel?”
2. Try not to use slang words – and be as honest as you think is appropriate for the age of your child. For instance, the NIH suggests that you shouldn’t relate death to sleep. Avoid saying something like “Grandma has gone to sleep for a long long time”. You risk creating a misplaced fear about sleeping.
I am learning as I go. What do you think? How do you speak to your kids about serious topics?
Mom, Dad, what did parents do before Google!?