Do We Over Sugar-Coat To our Kids?

The other day I went to the zoo with my daughter’s Girl Scout troop. They’re mostly 1st graders.

We were in a huddled group together enjoying a snack, basking in the sun. Girls gnawing on pre-packed cookies and conversing about reptiles. One girl mentioned a certain white snake in the reptile house- to which a parent responded that the snake “went away.” I really absent-mindedly didn’t realize they were trying to gloss over the fact that the snake had died the year before. Did not cross my mind.

“He died I replied.” I really thought the other parent just wasn’t aware of what happened and didn’t think anything, anything at all of my instant response.

She, the other parent, scolded me for not sugar-coating or essentially lying aboutsugarworms the death of the snake. Not a beloved household pet mind you.

I don’t think I am an insensitive person, but I often feel an obligation/duty/ philosophy/interest in telling and explaining the truth in most (when I deem appropriate) situations.

I’ve introduced the concept of death to all my children. We’ve said goodbye as a family to friends and relatives and pets. I’ve never told them the “gone away” cover-up. I’ve explained that people we’ve known were all done living, answered questions and so forth. We’ve shared sad situations and cried together as a family.

The whole situation made me step back and think- am I insensitive? Should I have not told a group of 6/7 year olds (that were not mine) that an animal had died? The girls hadn’t really thought twice about what I had said in that moment, or at least nobody but the grownups had blinked an eye. Do we sugar-coat life experiences too much for our kids? Am I desensitizing my children to not value life? What do you think? What would you have done/what have you done in similar situations?


2 responses to “Do We Over Sugar-Coat To our Kids?

  1. Today, I went to the beachfront with my kids. I found a sea
    shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She
    placed the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched
    her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely
    off topic but I had to tell someone!

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