Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Explaining Suicide to A First Grader

I never thought I'd need to talk to my 6 year old about suicide. But on the bus ride home this afternoon, some of the older students told her about a classmate of theirs who is believe to have committed suicide this morning.

So, because I'm not afraid to tell my children the truth about life, we talked about what she heard. I didn't try to distract her from the story, leaving her with unanswered question. Instead, I used the opportunity to talk to her about broken hearts.

A while ago, after the Sandy Hook school shooting, she wanted to know why someone would want to hurt other people and then kill themselves. At that time, I told her about broken hearts and that when you combine a broken heart with a "broken brain" (my overly simplified phrase for mental illness), it leads some people to do bad things, things that hurt others.

Today, I used those same words to describe what happened to Rebecca (I'm not saying she was mentally ill, but if she did commit suicide, she was not thinking clearly). My daughter's bus friends told her Rebecca had been made fun of because she had pale skin and really dark hair. Charlotte thought it was silly to tease someone because of that, and I affirmed this. We do not judge people by their appearance, but rather by how they treat others. In truth, Rebecca was a beautiful young girl with a nice smile and dimples.

Rebecca had been bullied and, according to a comment left on the Ledger article, her parents were working on finding a school environment that would nurture her and protect her. That same commentor shared that some of Rebecca's friends knew she might be thinking about harming herself. Unfortunately, it seems this information came too late because they did not share the texts and screen shots with a trusted adult.

This led to a discussion about what Charlotte ought to do if she hears about someone wanting to hurt themselves or other people. We brainstormed a solution and this is what we came up with:
  • Talk to a trusted adult - parent, teacher, bus driver, anyone who might be able to help the hurting person.
  • Don't worry about upsetting your friend. Their safety is more important than you keeping a secret. This is not a good secret.
  • Love the person. Let them know you will help them and then, follow through on it.
  • Pray for them. Ask God to help them see that they are His child and that He loves them and wants to help them.
I hadn't planned to spend this Tuesday afternoon explaining suicide to my six year old, but I did. She is sad for Rebecca and we prayed for the family and friends she left behind. I can only hope that this lesson will stick with Charlotte and, if needed, she will be able to help a friend one day from making such a tragic choice.

Parents don't be afraid to talk to your kids about the news. Once you have previewed it, let them read the news article for themselves (but not the comments!). Give them an opportunity to ask questions and have an opinion about what happened when hard situations come up. We can't protect them from everything or keep them in a bubble, ignorant of the pain in this world. Let's be prepared to help them process these types of events so they can be world changers, one person at a time.

(Just wanted to add... it hasn't not been confirmed as of me hitting publish that Rebecca did take her own life. I made clear to Charlotte that we still didn't know all of the details, so our conversation was based on what might have happened.)

How do you talk to your kids about hard things?

Ironically, today is World Suicide Prevention Day. If you or someone you love is thinking of harming themselves, please seek help now! You can FIND HELP. Click here to donate and support TWLOHA's suicide prevention efforts. You cannot be replaced!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

2013 Father's Day Interview with Charlotte & Mary

The righteous who walks in his integrity—
blessed are his children after him! Proverbs 20:7

In honor of this special day for Dad's everywhere, I repeated my Father's Day Interview with Charlotte & Mary.
  1. What is something Daddy always says to you? - "I love you."
  2. What makes Daddy happy? - "Giving him hugs and kisses"
  3. What makes Daddy sad? - "When I disobey him"
  4. How does Daddy make you laugh? - "By telling me really funny jokes"
  5. What was Daddy like as a child? - "I don't know because I never saw a picture of him."
  6. How old is Daddy? - "How old are you Mommy?" "I'm 35." "Then's Daddy's 35."
  7. How tall is Daddy? - "Really, really, really, really tall. But not as tall as a giant."
  8. What is Daddy's favorite thing to do? - "Play with me and work."
  9. What does Daddy do when you're not around? - "Go to work. Work at home."
  10. What is Daddy really good at? - "Cooking eggs."
  11. What is Daddy not very good at? - "Making me sad."
  12. What does Daddy do for his job? - "Go to work and be a teacher."
  13. What is Daddy's favorite food? - "Nerds.."
  14. What makes you proud of Daddy? - "That he makes lots and lots and lots of money."
  15. If Daddy were a cartoon character, who would he be? - "Any boy in any show. A Duck Dynasty person because he loves Duck Dynasty."
  16. What do you and Daddy do together? - "Ride my new bike."
  17. How are you and Daddy the same? - "We are both in the same family. We both like TV. We both like cooking."
  18. How are you and Daddy different? - "He's a boy and I'm a girl. He knows more than me and I know less than him."
  19. How do you know Daddy loves you? - "Because he tells me and he shows it by making me breakfast."
  20. Where is Daddy's favorite place to go? - "That's a hard one. Out with his family."
Charlotte would also like the world to know that he is the best daddy in the whole entire world!

This is how Mary answered the questions.

  1. What is something Daddy always says to you? - "Don't go somewhere all by yourself."
  2. What makes Daddy happy? - "Staying home with his family."
  3. What makes Daddy sad? - "Sad things like hurting somebody"
  4. How does Daddy make you laugh? - "By tickling me and doing this" (she dragged her finger down my arm)
  5. What was Daddy like as a child? - "He was like Hudson and me and Charlotte"
  6. How old is Daddy? - "I don't know actually."
  7. How tall is Daddy? - "65 units"
  8. What is Daddy's favorite thing to do? - "Play on the iPad or do something else that I don't know."
  9. What does Daddy do when you're not around? - "Do things. Eat. Play."
  10. What is Daddy really good at? - "Whistling. I don't know how to whistle."
  11. What is Daddy not very good at? - "Running."
  12. What does Daddy do for his job? - "Work at school and do some things and he might go on the playground."
  13. What is Daddy's favorite food? - "Cereal and milk and pasta and everything else that you cook."
  14. What makes you proud of Daddy? - "Eating."
  15. If Daddy were a cartoon character, who would he be? - "Handy Manny because I want him to be." (Me too Mary!)
  16. What do you and Daddy do together? - "Nothing."
  17. How are you and Daddy the same? - "I don't know."
  18. How are you and Daddy different? - "I don't know."
  19. How do you know Daddy loves you? - "I don't know."
  20. Where is Daddy's favorite place to go? - "I don't know."
Mary would also like the world to know that she doesn't know anything. And you can see that she clearly lost interest in this around question 16. 

Fortunately for Bruce, we haven't lost interest in him!

And if you think Mary was uncooperative, all Hudson wanted to do was pound on the keyboard!

 Happy Father's Day Bruce!

You can read the 2012 Father's Day Interview too!