I posted this in the toddler forum, but wondering if more appropriate here:
So my husband brings home this book from the library about polar bears and whales. Looks harmless from the front and it's not so bad, but my daughter is only 2.5 years old and some of the content I felt was inappropriate for her. She is very verbal and bright so perhaps the book is intended for kids more in the kindergarten range but she likes it. Anyway, DH brought it home without reading it and I was the first to read it. As I was reading it I told him that it talked about whaling ships killing whales and how there was one after the whales in the book. I decided it wasn't appropriate for her and I just skipped that part and made up parts of the story, which goes just fine with the pictures. Problem averted, right? Nope.
My husband decides to read it to her word for word. After the first reading, she is walking around parroting, "Killing whales!" In the car on our way somewhere she starts spouting off about "killing whales!" again. My husband heard it all and eventually I had to explain to her that killing whales is about giving whales big booboos and it makes the whales sad. That it's not a funny word. She was saying it in kind of a smiley way.
So, my husband continues to read her the book word for word. I decide that he must have a reason and let him go. He hates when I tell him what to do in terms of parenting so I just decide he is smart enough to decide what to do with the information. Well, part three comes in just now as my daughter runs up to me and says, "I'm killing you!" as in she is some type of animal killing another. We both say that is not a nice word and she starts crying. Basically she has figured out what this word means and she is trying to understand it by acting it out. I didn't know what to do but to hold her while she cried. It may have just been from both of us reprimanding her at once, but maybe also from just being confused trying to make sense of the things we are reading to her and showing to her.
I'm pissed at my husband to be honest. At least if you introduce something that you decide is appropriate for a child, then you make sense of it for them or explain it or whatever! He just sits there! I'm left with all the explaining from his mess.
In addition to all this, she watches the series "Planet Earth" with my husband all the time which he had decided was appropriate for her as he thought it was cool for her to learn about nature. That's all well and good but certain parts are just violent and I have always thought too much for her to process and handle. He has fought me on it and I let it go, but now I'm feeling like it is all too much. I would rather censor those parts where the crocodiles attack wildebeasts and the like.
Can anyone offer some wisdom here? I'm happy for you to take his side too. I just need help making sense of this all for my daughter.
Ouch - tough one. I too am uncomfortable with talking about death with my son and he's 6. He brought home a book from the school library. From the front it seemed innocent enough. It was about the bombing of Hiroshima! I didn't read it first (assuming the teacher helped him choose it) and stopped reading as soon as I realized and explained this wasn't a nice bed time book and we needed to pick something else.
It sounds like there is a power struggle going on between you and your husband and your daughter is getting stuck in the middle. Could you sit down with your husband and ask him where he is coming from? Not telling him what he can and can't read but rather framing it that you were uncomfortable with the subject matter and he seemed fine with it. You could explain what it is about the book that made you uncomfortable and ask him if he really felt it was okay, if so why and how you can both approach this delicate subject with your daughter as a team so that she's not frightened in an age appropriate manner (which is near impossible so if your husband is reasonable, you'll probably win out on this one). You really can't throw out "whales dying" without explaining what that means.
As much as I try to shield my son, life gets in the way. Tis the season of a lot of animals by the side of the road. His bus passed a dead deer and that's all he talked about for days! It was hard but we just answered his questions as gently as possible, used it as an opportunity to talk about being safe on the street, and why it's important to stay with his Mommy & Daddy when out and about. blech.
Actually, fear of death comes from lack of knowledge. Natural death such as animals killing other animals, or old age and illness are not bad thing to discuss. It will somehow make it into their vocabulary with or without your help. The thing is to guide them into understanding it. I had a strong fear of it when I was little and words associated with death were withheld in our home. I was told by my neighbor I could die from lightening or be killed by a cucuy (boogie man). Not something my parents discussed with me... and so I believed those things and fear for my life if it rained or I heard thunder.
I may sound extreme, but it's something to think about. Where will they learn about it if not from you and how do you want them to understand it.
I also meant to say that maybe he's not good at explaining things. My DH isn't and I don't get mad over it, I just explain what needs to be explained
My DD couldn't even watch some strawberry shortcake movies without crying but even she was fine with knowing that chicken nuggets were made of chicken and flat squirrels were not coming back to life. I wouldn't allow death play at any age but I don't see harm in kids knowing about the food chain.