Wednesday, April 18, 2012

How Honest Are You With Your Kids?

Muddy Puzzler keeping an eye on Muddy Hubby crutching

Muddy Organiser in the wool at shearing time

Lately I've been thinking a lot about honesty with kids. Yesterday even more so when we were talking with the Muddy Pixie, Muddy Hubby was carrying a shovel and the conversation went something like this:
Muddy Pixie: 'Dad why do you have a shovel?'
Muddy Hubby: 'To dig a hole'
Muddy Pixie: 'Like to dig a hole to put Mr H in when he died'

Not - 'like when we plant flowers in the garden' or 'like when we're planting our veggies', it was straight to the big cemetery plot!

We have always been pretty upfront with our kids, when a friend and neighbour passed away recently we talked to them about what happened and the process of a funeral. We talked about how people age and some times people die young, we talked about how at a funeral we go to remember the person and say our final goodbyes. We talked about the coffin and the burial and cremation for some people.

In our house the Muddy Kids see life in all it's form. They help us put the Rams in the paddock and understand that they have to get together with the Ewes to make Baby Lambs. They've seen sheep get sick and die, they know that when we weigh lambs to find the heavy ones, that we then load them on the truck to send to the saleyards, and that most likely they're going to be turned into lamb chops or a nice roast.

Then there's the pet pigs that we fed up and then sent away to be made into pork roasts, ham and bacon. The girls knew they were going and when we picked the boxes up from town they asked to see them, we talked about how 'Bacon' and 'Chook Eggs' had been turned into meat that we could eat.

Is it too much honesty though. Should we be sugar coating it a bit more, letting them think that the lambs are going to live in a paddock with more feed or that the pigs have run away to another farm? Or is it better to be completely honest, so there's no surprises later on?

How honest are you with your kids? How do you explain death and funerals to them?
Do your kids know where their meals come from?


  1. I grew up on a dairy farm and we were always given honest answers. Age appropriate, never more detail than we needed to know at the time. It's a great way to learn! :)

  2. I think honest is the only way you deal with it.
    We haven't had to with animals of our own -except the puppy my husband ran over ...the kids say Jed went under the wheel and we buried him at the dam.

  3. I think this level of honesty/realism is part and parcel of a country lifestyle.
    It's great for the kids to understand the 'circle of life'.

    That said, I do have a bit of a 'thing' about young kids at funerals. Sometimes it doesn't seem appropriate.
    :-) xx

  4. We're inner city folk, so my kids could easily be wrapped up in an illusion about where their food comes from but I want them to know and respect the process.

    We tell them the truth about about meat, etc. I think it's important for them to know.

    Once we walked into a pet shop when my eldest was almost two she look at the tanks of fish and said: "Yum! Fish!" Maybe a little too much??

  5. Oh dear, I don't have the answers. My boys are 2 and 2 months and it won't be long till we need to figure out where the limits to "sugar coating" are. I am so not ready for the constant questions !

  6. I am all for honesty, age appropriately, but honesty. It can be hard sometimes, trying to be honest with our daughter has led to some expected results but still we try to make it as simple and as clear as possible.

    Sugar coating it doesn't do anyone any favours.

  7. Well, you know that 'I' still struggle with the home truths of farm life Nat. Sugar coat it, sugar coat it... for me that is. As for your little ones, I think it's great that they're learning about all of these things first hand. It will definitely instil a sense of maturity that a lot of children won't have. Keep doing what you're doing and I don't think you can go wrong xo

  8. My grandfather/father ran a farm and we always knew where Sunday lunch roast came from. We didn't "see" it happen, but the truth wasn't hidden from us either. So I'm pretty open with my children but it does prompt a lot of questions that need to be answered in a simple, straightforward way. I definitely don't think there's a right or wrong approach though... every child is different and the way they will respond to this kind of information will vary greatly so do what works for you. :)

  9. Hello, I think you're doing the right thing. I do tell my children where he food they eat comes from and explain that we're eating animals that have had a good life. We try to anyway, with the food we buy. And so good to be open about death. Am a firm believer in talking about death and then also keeping on talking about people who have died.

  10. There are some areas where things needs to be sugar coated, but others are a fact of life and they are bound to find out sooner or later. Best to ease them into it gently than them being shocked later on in life. I think you're doing a fantastic job! x


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