While attending the funeral of an old friend a few weeks before Christmas last year, I heard the following conversation…
“My daughter loves “Miss C” so much. She can’t wait to go to Sunday school every week knowing “Miss C” was going to be her teacher. I really didn’t know what to tell her. How do you explain death to a four year-old?”
When asked what she did tell her little girl, the mother then replied, “I told her “Miss C” went to live at the North Pole to be one of Santa’s helpers because she loves kids so much she wanted to make sure they always have a nice Christmas.”
Are you kidding me! If the irony of this conversation weren’t so sad, it would be hilarious. I mean think about it: This mother didn’t think telling her daughter that her Sunday school teacher was with Jesus was as comforting as saying she was with Santa Claus!
And that’s not even considering the facts that a) in the not-so-distant-future her daughter is going to find out that her momma told a big fat whopper lie because she’ll discover that Santa isn’t r-e-a-l and b) learning the truth is only going to lead to more questions that should have and could have been answered truthfully in the first place.
Listen up, parents! Your children deserve simple, honest, and age-appropriate answers to their questions—especially since these days there are lots of things to ask questions about.
When your child asks, “Is Sparky in heaven now?” when a beloved pet dies, you should simply say, “I don’t know for sure, but the Bible does talk about lions and sheep getting along in heaven, so if God thinks lions are nice enough to go to heaven, I bet he thinks Sparky is, too.”
When your child asks, “Is everyone who lives there bad?” when catching a glimpse of or hearing about the war raging in the Middle East, your reply should be, “No, not everyone who lives there is bad. That’s why our soldiers are there—to help the nice people and try to keep them safe.”
When your child questions why someone is mean to them, it’s time to inform them that not everyone will realize what a great kid they are and the best thing to do when that happens is to turn around and go play with someone who is nice. You can also tell them that sometimes people say and do things that aren’t very nice when they are sad, mad, or don’t feel well, so they need to give that person another chance.
When your child asks you if you will still be a family after the divorce, you need to be honest in telling them that your family is not going to be the same as it was, but that the love you and your soon-to-be-ex have for them (your child) is never going to change.
When your child asks if he/she will ever see their friends again after you move three states away, don’t say, “Oh, sure, we’ll come back and visit whenever we can.” You and I both know the chances of that are next to nothing, so simply tell them that they probably won’t see them very much but that they can stay in touch online or through cards and letters and reassure them that they will make new friends to play with/hang out with your new home.
Honesty, parents. Honesty is ALWAYS the best policy. If you aren’t honest with them, you really don’t have a right to expect them to be honest with you.
Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.