Awhile back I was over at my nieces house, she is the I don't believe but kinda believe type and she has to amazingly adorable daughters who are damned smart. That day when I showed up at their house it was in complete turmoil her youngest daughter, 5, well her bird apparently died that day. Now my niece wanted to just toss it in the trash but the youngest wanted to bury the bird in the back yard. So an hour or so later here we all are out back, freezing, hole in the ground, toilet paper filled jewelry box and dead bird at the forefront. After we bury the bird the youngest turns to us all doe eyed and full of tears. Seeing as we are the all mighty and knowledgeable adults she says "Where did the bird go when he died? Did he go to heaven?". I couldn't answer because she is not my kid and my niece just suddenly went all mentally challenged, looking at me to come up with something. Before either of us could say a word her older daughter who was 8 at the time. Says "Really? he's in the box you just buried him in, heaven isn't real its just something people talk about to make themselves feel better about dieing, but at least you can come talk to him when ever you like because he is right there!" and she point at the freshly packed dirt. Apparently this was an OK answer for the youngest and we all went inside.
All I can say though is when I heard her say that I was ecstatic. Mentally I was doing back flips around the yard. Here she was, 8 years old and more mentally aware of reality then most adults.
I don't have any kids yet but I pretty much made the decision to be as upfront and direct as possible. I want to protect them and if not lying to them is the way to protect them then I will. Last thing I want is for them to go to the church for the answers I don't give them.
We havent lost any pets yet. I have 3 kids and a cat. We saw a dead cat decomposing on the side of the road when we were walking (no car at the time... walked everywhere and it was on the only road we could use). It was really disgusting and the kids saw it before I could shield them from it. They now know exactly what happens when a kitty dies. The cat stayed there for days and even though we crossed the street well before and well after the poor thing, they still tried to look. They dont seem too traumatized. Perhaps because it wasnt our pet. I think it helped that we had talked about it before, with silly definitions of what alive meant. To them, if you can eat and go potty, then you are alive. When you are dead, you dont do any of that.
I like this
you r 100% right.
Eh... I think honesty is the best policy with kids. Sure, you can fluff things up depending on their age, but I was more disturbed when I found out my parents were total hypocrites than when my mother was honest about Santa not being real. Most Christians don't believe animals go to Heaven, so they usually tell their kids that. That's what my parents told me. It wasn't traumatic. I was just sad they were gone... no matter how it was explained.
I just don't think it's healthy to shield kids from reality. Someone else posted that kids should be allowed to be kids, and I totally agree. I don't think we should rush them into things, but I also don't think we should lie when they ask questions. If they're asking, it's probably because they suspect things aren't what they've been told they are. Their intuition should be rewarded. How else can we expect them to turn into critical thinkers if we don't nurture their newly inquisitive brains?
All kids are different, but the truth never traumatized me as much as a blatant lie.