How (Not) to Share Bad News with Children

My dad has a tendency to be dramatic.  If I’m being honest, I’ve inherited that trait, and so in the heat of battle, we both jump to hyperbole and over the top analogies.  My extreme temperament was thankfully watered down by my mom’s DNA, my mom who is frighteningly calm in any and every situation.  My husband is fortunate to only have to listen to these sorts of outbursts without laughing at me on the rare occasion.  I could fill a book with stories about my dad, though…

It’s Spring Break here so my dad arrived this morning to hang out with my kids for a couple of days while I continue to work from home.  He talked to us about dinner plans, sat down and ate lunch, gave me zip ties for my hanging plants, changed into play clothes, told me about changes to his pond, and even gave me some financial advice from Suze Orman.  And then he said, “Oh yeah, I had to put Cali down this morning.” Who is Cali?  Cali is my outside cat back home that we got in the fall of 1990 when I was…oh goodness…twelve years old.

I can’t say that I’m surprised about either the way he told me the news or the news itself.  The average lifespan of an outside cat is only a few years, so Cali was a bit of a miracle.  I also remember my dad blowing up once and telling me in the course of the chastisement that my favorite farm cat had been hit and killed on the road. In the heat of our dramatic exchange, he had forgotten that no one told me about the cat.

I’ll save the rest of that story for the book.  Just be prepared for lots of hyperbole.

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  • Lindsay

    Your dad dramatic? Naaaaaaaaah:P On a more somber note, sorry about the kitty. I remember her.

    • Lindsay

      Now that I think about it my mom’s the say way when it comes to bad news. It must be a “valley” thing.

  • My grandmother had been dead for two years before anyone bothered to tell me. I had mentioned going to see her since we were going to be back in the United States. My mom said, “Oh, she died two years ago.”