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Was I wrong to tell 6 year old DS we're all going to die?

(44 Posts)
heinztomatosoup Fri 14-Oct-11 19:19:19

During a conversation today about my childhood, DS (who is sensitive) asked about my Mum, who died before he was born. He asked why people die, and if he would die one day? I always have a policy of telling the truth so answered 'yes', obviously sugar coating it with it will be years away when you are very old etc.

He was very upset and then when he asked whether I would die one day I again had to agree but when he became hysterical I realised I had maybe made a mistake and started talking about the soul never dying but instead going to heaven and living forever in paradise with all the people you love.

He was still upset as he was worried I would go to heaven before him and leave him. I eventually managed to change the subject but he is still very subdued.

Was I wrong to tell him the truth?

babycham42 Fri 14-Oct-11 19:25:16

I think you were right to tell the truth.

LynetteScavo Fri 14-Oct-11 19:31:46

I think you said the right thing.

And lucky he's left it this long to ask. All mine have gone trough this when they were 3. Yes, they were upset. DD used to howl that I would one day be dead and she would miss me. Ultimately it's a fact of life. My DC know they will die when they are really, really old or if they don't look both ways crossing the road or if they smoke(OK we've been a bit mean with that one), or even if they are just very unlucky and get a bad illness.

Sadly it's not something I've been able to hide from them.

Ragwort Fri 14-Oct-11 19:34:10

Absolutely the right thing - my DS known (sadly) that people die from a young age, he has had to cope with a very young relative dying as well as older friends and family so I believe it is the right thing to do to tell children the truth.

heinztomatosoup Fri 14-Oct-11 19:44:31

Thanks for the responses so far DH said I had made an 'error of judgement' telling him, so glad to have your support that I did the right thing.

MudandRoses Fri 14-Oct-11 20:35:01

Just reassure that (and here's where I do sugar coat it a bit) - you're not going to die for a looooong time, not til you're really old, and not til you're ready/it's the right time. I say this because 'old' is almost the same as 'forever' to a small child and it makes the reality easier to bear. I remember being as a small child devastated by the thought that my mum would die one day.

Georgimama Fri 14-Oct-11 20:37:35

No you were not wrong - if you lie to a child about something like that I think they will have a hard time trusting you. What does your DH think you should have said - "no DS you will never die?" My DS first raised the issue of death when he was 3 (my SIL's mother died) and we had a very honest and difficult chat about it, but I am glad I didn't lie to him just to make my life easier in that moment.

suebfg Fri 14-Oct-11 20:40:46

My DS who is 4 recently asked the same question. I wasn't sure what to say but decided that honesty was the best policy. But I was careful to reassure him that it would be a long long time away.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 14-Oct-11 20:44:47

No, you weren't wrong.

I think it may be easier if they first come across death when they are about 3 - ideally something like a goldfish first. (really, I'm not being flippant)

ChippingIn Fri 14-Oct-11 20:49:33

No, of course you weren't wrong. What does Mr Error of Judgement think you should have said when he asked you? Would he prefer you lie to him? He's 6, he's at school - you can't fob them off with lies - it's not fair.

babycham42 Fri 14-Oct-11 20:54:43

A very close relative died when mine were 2 and 4.They didn't know what death was so I had to explain .It was devastating but essential to be honest.
They played games about being dead for a long time but they came to terms with what it is eventually.
I hope your little boy feels happier soon.Be prepared he may bring up the subject again.

notlettingthefearshow Fri 14-Oct-11 21:01:58

I would have said the same. I don't know what else you can say that wouldn't be a complete lie.

Harecare Fri 14-Oct-11 21:05:15

Of course you were right. My DD is now 4 and we have buried dead frogs, birds etc so she understands what death is. She was more worried about dying herself and wanting me to bury her toys with her. I explained that once you're dead you're fine - you either have a long sleep, get reincarnated or go to heaven - ace! The people who miss you feel very sad, but they know you are alright and have lots of lovely memories.
My DD often plays games where her Mum has died and she comes to stay with me instead- I am a waitress/kind lady in a shop/whatever!!! I think she likes the romantic notion of being an orphan. Thankfully I have a glorious death - burnt by a dragon!

LikeABlackFlameCandleBNQ Fri 14-Oct-11 21:08:11

A way I would explain it is that we are all like balloons. Big, bright, happy things that, as we get older, the air starts to escape and we get a bit wrinkled. Eventually, after a long time, all the air escapes. Every now and again, someone or something comes along and pops the balloon while it still has air in it, which is sad, but no matter how long we had the balloon for, it was a beautiful thing to have around.

Hmm...that glass of wine might have gone to my head grin

BleedyGhoulzombiez Fri 14-Oct-11 21:10:00

This is such a difficult one. I have spoken to 4yo DS loads over the years about my dead parents, whom he has never met. Have told him about dying/ going up to heaven and having a party. About how it happens when you're either really old or extremely sick. All well and good. He accepted it, no problem.

Then the other day he started to get worries and upset about DH and me dying one day and leaving him. He is sensitive by nature, and worries about being away from us, which seriously affects his sleep. So I lied. He was fretting about us dying and leaving him, so I said "Alright then, we won't." And he was happy with that.

All I can do is hope that neither of us dies in the next few years before we can tell him the truth.

trumpton Fri 14-Oct-11 21:10:16

LikeABlackFlameCandleBNQ That's a lovely way to explain it.

RosemaryandThyme Fri 14-Oct-11 21:11:54

Yes definately the truth - just watch for which words you use, my oldest asked after a brass-rubbings school trip the local church - I inadvertently used the phrase "going to sleep" and he thought if you went to sleep for too long you'd be put in a tomb.

MumblingAndBloodyRagDoll Fri 14-Oct-11 21:12:15

I just avoid the question. blush instead I tak vaguely of heaven and reincarnation. It seems to satisfy without scaring. I thnk there is plenty of time to lose yur innocence...I see most people think they should know...but they're SO small and innocent for so few years that I can't be the one to tell them. They work it out eventually...that's what pets are for.

BarryKent Fri 14-Oct-11 21:13:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bushymcbush Fri 14-Oct-11 21:13:25

Not an 'error of judgement' at all. I'm amazed he got as far as 6 without asking tbh. 3 or 4 is the norm.

MumblingAndBloodyRagDoll Fri 14-Oct-11 21:14:02

think if I tried the balloon analogy on my literal child she would worry about being around pins!

JarethTheGoblinKing Fri 14-Oct-11 21:14:28

Interesting thread. DS (nearly 4) has started asking about this sort of thing. I've been quite vague so far, but have been honest with him to a point.

JarethTheGoblinKing Fri 14-Oct-11 21:18:49

Sorry, the balloon thing freaked me out slightly. (balloons freak me out sometimes anyway) but the shrivelled up old deflated thing isn't an image I'd like to share (sorry blush) because I think it will just tell DS that his grandparents are just old balloons waiting to die sad

DFIL is likely to die quite soon.. very interested in how people would speak to a small child to prepare them, and how to tell them when their GPs do die


LikeABlackFlameCandleBNQ Fri 14-Oct-11 21:19:05

Yes, in retrospect, I imagine a child told it would freak at a birthday party where all kids seem to want to do is run around bursting all the balloons grin

JarethTheGoblinKing Fri 14-Oct-11 21:23:00


Sorry, didn't mean to cause any offence (if I did at all).

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