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How to handle those "big" questions

When you read the title of this blog, you may have thought this would be about the "birds and the bees." While that topic certainly classifies as something "big," it's not the topic I'm going to address today. Instead, I want to talk about a child's fear of loss. 

 

Within the last few months, my son (he's four, going on five) has been asking me about people dying and people deserting him. Also, he's been concerned about people getting hurt. Some of the questions he's asked me include the following:

1) What if something happens to you and dad?

2) When do people die?

3) Are we all going to die sometime?

4) What if dad gets hurt at work? I need to be there to save him. 

Now, it's important to let you know that my son is not asking me these type of questions every day or even every few days. Instead, every few weeks he may ask a question like this. His usually silly, fun-loving demeanor takes a turn toward the somber and serious. That's to be expected as he becomes more aware of things. 

When answering my son's questions, I try to be reassuring. When he asks if we're all going to die sometime, I tell him the truth. "Yes, we are all going to die sometime. But don't worry about it. Instead, live your life in a way that makes you and those around you happy. Keep yourself safe. Be kind and considerate....." As I remind him of my expectations, he forgets about dying. 

I think it's important to be truthful with your child, but to redirect his focus to things he can control. At least that's how I navigate those "big" questions.