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At what age should children know about serious stuff happening in the family?

(23 Posts)
QuintShhhhhh Thu 09-Jul-15 23:54:32

When Is it recommended or advisable children learn about serious or important things happening within the family? Like for example a grandparent being seriously ill and most likely dying, children learn about serious or important things happening within the family? Like for example a grandparent being seriously ill and most likely dying, or family business going under, One of the parents losing their jobs and the financial situation changing. Or pretty much anything that does not relate to divorce or the family splitting up which affects the children directly.

KatyN Fri 10-Jul-15 07:08:24

I would try to explain in age appropriate language. My husband went into hospital and then had two weeks in bed when our son was 2.5. We explained daddy was poorly and we had to take care of him.
I've just spent 5 weeks in bed with morning sickness, again we explained what was going on.
However he went to three funerals between 1 and 2 and we said very little. For the last one just that nanny was sad and needed extra cuddles.

Hope you're alright, sounds like you're having a rough time, k

LittleLionMansMummy Fri 10-Jul-15 08:08:14

Fil has cancer but we haven't said anything to ds who is 4.5. He doesn't see him very regularly as they live 200 miles away, so perhaps we'd say something if we needed to explain he was having an op so couldn't see him this week. But we'd probably just say he was having an operation to try to make him feel better. Fil is a strong man ans has every chance of recovery.

I'm being made redundant and we've talked about my job in front of ds and i may have said to him that i might be changing my job but beyond that nothing else. He wouldn't really understand the impact. And tbh even when we talk about it we talk in quite positive terms, but more because i genuinely feel it's opening up opportunities for me and we could end up with a nice little nest egg in the bank.

mousmous Fri 10-Jul-15 08:11:50

we are very open about such things.
I think if you don't keep the dc in the loop, they fill gaps themselves (from things accidentally overheard) and worry more.

mousmous Fri 10-Jul-15 08:12:48

you all right quint ?

Athenaviolet Fri 10-Jul-15 08:15:36

I wouldn't hide things from DCs.

I remember my parents hiding things from me. Kids know.

Artandco Fri 10-Jul-15 08:16:01

I think tell them but don't worry them. So a parent losing job is mainly a financial worry to adults. To a child you can just say you are changing jobs for a while, don't really need to say anything money wise.

If they ask for things out and you haven't money for example, I think it's better to say they can't have it for a different reason than always ' we haven't money', as they shouldn't feel it's always an issue. Go places that don't cost, with own treats packed for example.

Penfold007 Fri 10-Jul-15 08:16:40

Quint when my DH was very ill in intensive care when DCs were quite young I just explained the situation in an age appropriate way, they were very accepting of the situation.

Artandco Fri 10-Jul-15 08:19:13

And yes, age appropriate. I would tell my 5 year old far less detail, than say a 10 year old for example.

goshdarnit Fri 10-Jul-15 08:26:38

FIL collapsed and needed CPR in view of my then 6 and 8 year olds. There was no avoiding the fact we needed to talk this through with the children.
We did it all in age appropriate language, got support from school, and kept them involved.
I knew we had done ok about six months later when ds was talking to his friend and said 'Do you know what's the worst thing about your Grandad dying? You have to share a room with your sister!'
So, talk about stuff, don't brush things under the carpet, as a pp said, they will just fill in the gaps and believe their own version of events.
Good Luck.

QuintShhhhhh Fri 10-Jul-15 11:58:56

My sons are 10 and 13.

Last June I was told that my mum had 3 months to leave, with advanced cervical cancer. We prepared for the worst, but without telling the kids.
Then further tests showed that the cancer had not spread, and in all likelyhood a full vasectomy would solve the problem. Her op was in October, and all was well. I was really glad I had not told the boys!

This year it is dhs mum. She has advanced bowel cancer and it has spread, she has had numerous operations. Chemo is not touching it, it keeps advancing, and her body is reacting to the treatment. They have started radiotherapy, but it is not looking good. We have told them gran has cancer, but not gone into detail.

Even though they know two of my friends have died from cancer, and a third is undergoing treatment, they are just not really worried about cancer. Maybe because my mum has had bone marrow cancer (well controlled) for years, and her cervical cancer was so easy to deal with.

Dh was made redundant recently, but luckily got a new job quickly, but only a 6 month contract, which will probably be made permanent. Dh is not coming on holiday with us to my parents, as he needs to keep his holiday allowance for his mum. She does not want us all to come yet, she feels too ill. We may go end of August.

We also have some business related problems with our own company, which are not affecting the kids, but requires my husbands attention in the evenings. It is however affecting my husbands mood. He is tired, and more grumpy than usual. It is his first month in a new job, he has demands from work, demands from the business, and a dying mum.

Our 13 year old keeps being awake late now his school has ended for summer, and he keeps coming down from his room to chat, or show us something. Dh needs to relax, he often has more work to do. His patience is wearing thin with a child who causes disruption at bed time, goes into his younger brothers room and keeps him awake. We cant have this going on till past 11 pm every evening. Ds2 goes to bed around 9, he gets annoyed with his brother walking into his room.

Is it ok for me to explain the full situation to my 13 year old and ask him to give his dad some space to relax in the evening?

His mum was on skype, and wanted to see the kids, she was crying when she saw them, he was distressed but kept his mask on. Then the kids go to bed, and the older one keeps placing demands on his time, when all he wants is to relax a little.

The older is going away to camp, so next week will be quiet. But is it too much to expect empathy and understanding from a 13 year old? Can we even expect that from a child?

Artandco Fri 10-Jul-15 13:07:08

I think it's fine to explain to the child. But I don't think it's fine to expect a 13 year old to not appear in living area after 9pm. If your dh needs space he needs to be the one who moves to your bedroom rather than stopping a teenager leaving his

mousmous Fri 10-Jul-15 15:40:14

agree at 13 he should be old enough to have honest conversations. that way he also understands that he needs to give dad a little space and doesn't feel too pushed out.
I also agree that you dh could maybe go and watch tv in another room that's more private.
I hope all turns out ok!

TheMoa Fri 10-Jul-15 15:45:34

To be honest, it sounds as though your 13 year old knows something is wrong.

He is probably hoping to have one of you tell him what it is, hence trying to be ever-present.

Iguanaleader Fri 10-Jul-15 16:51:41

My Mum has recently been very unwell, had a fall, emergency heart surgery and a lung cancer scare since January. I told my 12 year old dd a) in the hope she was less hectic there (some sn) so she understood why Nan didn't feel well and so she didn't misunderstand something she had heard.

I think it's a little bit harsh to push a 13 year old out who wants to spend time with you and I agree with others about Dad maybe being the one to move sometimes

WaltJunior Fri 10-Jul-15 17:07:48

It's a different situation but my dh is like this anyway without extra pressures. I find it odd that he's so desperate to get rid the kids to bed so early so he can 'relax' . They are part of the family, it's their house, why should they get out of his way so he can 'relax'. weird.

QuintShhhhhh Fri 10-Jul-15 20:53:59

I think it's a little bit harsh to push a 13 year old out who wants to spend time with you

after 11 pm?

Those of you who think dh has to go to the bedroom, and let the 13 year old live his life in your home, dont you have bed times for your children?

I honestly thought it was normal for kids to go to bed earlier than adults. He is still a child!

The 10 year old wants space and time in his own room to wind down for bed. He does not like his older brother milling around in his room when he goes to sleep. I have to be upstairs and superwise and keep ds1 out of ds2s bedroom. The 13 year old usually eats a small evening meal of cereals or fruit and youghurt around 9.30, he goes upstairs shortly after, annoys his brother, who has finished in the bathroom, and is up and down, usually until around 11pm. Spending time with us is one thing, causing disruption in the house until we go to bed is not something I find ok.

As adults I think we had the right to sit down watch a movie, or an episode of a series after 10 pm.

Are you honestly keeping your children company that late in the evening?

What time does your children go to bed?

QuintShhhhhh Fri 10-Jul-15 21:00:10

I find it odd that he's so desperate to get -rid- the kids to bed so early so he can 'relax'

Really? Early? What time is early? The attention problems start from around 9.30 when ds2 is in bed, until 11pm, often later. Yesterday he was still up midnight! Come 10 pm there is a sudden need for more to eat, a shower, another bottle of water, desperation to find a book, some homework he suddenly remembers.

Shall adults never get a moment to relax? I honestly need a little time myself to wind down before I go to sleep.

Maybe it is only now that dh is frazzled and knackered we notice ds2s bed time habits.

SleepIsOverrated Fri 10-Jul-15 21:11:30

My child would pick up on stress and assume it was something very close to hand. And would therefore want to be wherever I was, in case I was ill or leaving or something.

Talk to him. 13 is plenty old enough to know he absolutely doesn't get to bug his brother late at night. It's also old enough to understand that adults need some down time sometes. But maybe you could compromise - if he's not needing the sleep isn't it better that he has some company than that he finds his own company online and unsupervised?

If your husband has to work, tell your son that. It doesn't need to be a secret. Maybe you and he could chat/play a game/watch TV together until DH has finished working? And then bedtime so you and DH can talk? Or perhaps you could ask him to give you a certain number if nights a week adult time, with a certain number being father and son time?

Definitely tell him why things are tricky. He won't thank you for keeping how ill his Nan is a secret. And he needs to know why it's important that DH works so hard for a while - that things are tight but you are alright.

He's potentially worried that you're divorcing - sadly, that'll be something many of his friends will have experienced; explaining it's job and money and very poorly Gran might actually be a relief to him.

Or, he could just be a totally self absorbed teenager, and be genuinely unaware of the affect his late night chats are having on the rest of you. Either way, talk to him. When you started this thread, I assumed you were talking about a very young child.

QuintShhhhhh Fri 10-Jul-15 21:18:12

Definitely tell him why things are tricky. He won't thank you for keeping how ill his Nan is a secret. And he needs to know why it's important that DH works so hard for a while - that things are tight but you are alright.

I did have a chat with him about it today, so he knows that we are ok, it is just money work, and sick grandma, but WE are fine. He was ok about it. He did not seem worried about any divorce or serious illness on our part. But I thought he had to know why dad is so tired and absent minded.

We still do plenty of family things, and have quality time! We went mountain biking on Saturday, and a leisurely 20k cycleride along the Thames on Sunday. I took the boys to McD and Cinema on Thursday as an "end of term reports" treat (without dh as he was in work).

Alibabsandthe40Musketeers Fri 10-Jul-15 21:30:56

He needs to stay out of his brother's room that is unacceptable. What does he say when you tell him not to do it?

As for the rest of it, he's growing up. There is clearly a lot of what he will perhaps perceive as 'interesting grown up things' going on, he's also on holiday from school so has suddenly got loads of spare energy and so on. You and your husband need to learn to relax while he is still up, because he isn't going to get any younger.

WorkingItOutAsIGo Fri 10-Jul-15 21:54:15

Sorry stuff is so hard. To answer your practical question - my 12 yo DS has a realistically 10pm bedtime during the week. We get him to bed and then relax but usually have our 16 yo with us watching TV. The uni student goes to bed long after us but is good at tiptoeing. So you are on the cusp of no longer having evenings to yourselves I am afraid. The upside is we sometimes go the pub at 10pm for some downtime with each other. We really struggle to get time together alone.

olivesnutsandcheese Fri 10-Jul-15 22:11:04

Why don't you try an 'upstairs in your bedroom' rule by 9.30. Then he can read or listen to music in bed (headphones) until lights out an hour later.
By all means explain the situation but I think as a 13yr old he still needs a proper bedtime. You as parents clearly need some child free down time. Our DS is only 11 but there is not a chance he would be downstairs past 9pm.

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