Will Lodge – it isn’t all fun and games with children
- Credit: Archant
Superdad Will Lodge considers the difficult conversations we have with our children.
Children can be a lot of fun – you get to spend a lot of time playing games, being arty and running around the park as a grown man without feeling silly.
Indeed, you can be as silly as you like and still get nods of kudos and smiles of understanding from other adults as they recognise you, hopefully, as a fun dad.
But of course with parenting there is a deeper side, the one where you must impart knowledge and slowly and sensitively educate your children in the ways of the world.
This can range from tying shoelaces to cooking (and not touching hot pans), as well as some of the more unwritten rules in society such as not calling people fat or putting the toilet seat up and down.
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This week, however, we had one of those topics which requires even more careful handling – death.
The subject first came up when my wife and I were away one afternoon at my granddad’s funeral.
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Our six-year-old, on questioning my mother-in-law on our absence, was delicately told about the situation in very broad brush terms.
I completely agree this is the right thing to do. Though we can shield young ones from potentially painful topics I believe a honest and open, if somewhat limited, discussion is the best way forward.
Of course some things are quite simply for when they are older but in basic terms death is a fact of life.
This brought a new line of questioning for my wife when we got back that evening.
“Why do people die?” was the first toughy she faced. My wife carefully explained that when you get older sometimes parts of your body stop working.
“So which parts of his body stopped?” – this conversation was not going to get any easier.
There was some further more biological discussion, educational in a more factual way than just emotionally.
“I don’t ever want to die, or you and Daddy,” came the final statement.
This is the point at which six years’ old becomes too young for the truth, and my wife simply said “we won’t”. That one is definitely a question for another day.
Though the discussion was perhaps tricky and needed careful handling, it was not as awkward as the sex chat with our up-and-coming teenager son.
What can make such conversations hard is the indefeatable logic of a child.
For example, after drawing up an extensive Christmas list we told our six-year-old that he may not get everything as it would cost a lot of money.
“But Father Christmas makes the toys, he doesn’t buy them!”
“Well he can’t make all of them, he has to buy some of them,” I tried to argue.
“He uses magic.”
Of course he does. Good luck arguing with that one.
Sometimes, no matter how honest and open you try to be, “I’ll tell you when you’re older” or “Because I said so” is the only answer.