Social Question

Judi's avatar

Would you tell your 4 year old if you had a miscarriage?

Asked by Judi (39850points) September 27th, 2016 from iPhone

I have a Facebook friend who posted about how her baby would have been due this month and her son asked her when the baby was coming. Apparently they had told him about the pregnancy but not about the miscarriage.
Would you withhold this information from your child?
I can’t fathom it. She didn’t have an answer for him when he asked her directly.

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20 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

If the 4 year old already was expecting a sibling, and the 4 year old was asking about the baby, I think I would have to say something. What’s her plan? To get pregnant again and hope her son just views it as a very long pregnancy?

I’d just say the baby stopped growing, if her son knows the baby was inside her tummy. The baby stopped growing, and so it isn’t in her tummy anymore.

Or, she could say mommy was wrong, and there wasn’t a baby, but she is hoping to get one.

Make up whatever, but I think you have to address it with the son so it makes some sense to him.

I’d also not tell my son I was preggers until about month 6.

Buttonstc's avatar

I would have to tell my child. If she thinks that in time he will just forget, she’s dead wrong. He won’t.

I would opt to tell the child something as close to the truth as possible but simplified for his level of understanding.

Something along the lines of the baby was born much sooner than normal. His lungs were not developed enough to breath propefly and he died.

I’m sorry I didn’t tell you the first time you asked but Daddy and I are just so sad that I didn’t know what to say.

Of course he will likely have more questions either immediately or for quite a while into the future. But at least he’s getting the truth from her.

This way the whole family can be United in mourning and it doesn’t become this big deep dark secret just hanging in the air.

Kids have an uncanny sixth sense for family secrets and it’s just not a healthy dynamic.

In the olden days, miscarriages or stillbirth were just kind of swept under the rug and forgotten asap.

But research has shown that it’s a very unhealthy dynamic for both the Mom and family.

Most hospitals nowadays, rather than simply discarding it with the medical waste. offer the option of a memorial service or whatever alternative the parents would desire.

I remember vividly how everyone in the public was jumping down Santorum’s throat about his and his wife’s decision to take home the body of their stillborn girl overnight to give their kids time to grieve and say goodbye.

(Granted, I’m no fan of his politically and think his positions are idiotic) but this has nothing to do with politics.

What most people overlooked is the fact that his wife works in the neo natal ICU and has a daily experience of dealing with dying babids and their grieving parents.

So no one should know better than she what the latest research has shown about the the most mentally healthy ways to deal with this most difficult crisis a family can face.

I also remember Rebel speaking of dealign with this in his own family and the on going melancholy which his mother went through because back in those days it was just covered over and never really dealt with.

I’ll see if I can find it. It’s been awhile. But Rebels post about it was poignant.

Seek's avatar

Absolutely, without question.

Death is a natural part of life, and I really don’t agree with this modern American notion of hiding death from kids, or glorifying it as some magical fairytale.

Every time I hear a kid my son’s age say that his pet goldfish is in Heaven I kinda want to smack their parents.

zenvelo's avatar

If the child knows about he pregnancy, the child deserves to know about the miscarriage. And, while it can be communicated in a manner understandable to a four year old, one doesn’t make up whatever.

Children can handle the truth if told to them in a manner that is told to them at their comprehension level and without anger. They don’t need a lie or a made up story.

Sneki95's avatar

I would.

The child would have to find out some day, you can’t hide these things.

ucme's avatar

Of course I would, can’t conceive of a single reason not to, that life would’ve been flesh & blood to the living child & they have every need & right to be informed, absolutely so.

JLeslie's avatar

@zenvelo “Make up whatever,” meaning reduce it to a child’s understanding. I don’t think the child has to be told the baby “died.” Or, necessarily call it by its technical name miscarriage. What the child needs to know is the baby that was anticipated no longer is. He can be told the pregnancy didn’t work out in whatever words the parent is comfortable stating it. I’m not for saying the stork changed his mind, but I am fine with minimal detail, and see if the child asks more questions or just accepts what he was told. The parent can be openly sad about it, all of that I’m fine with.

ucme's avatar

It did it again!!
My answer shows as 1 GA, yet in the news feed & my activity it has been clearly acknowledged twice…screwy shit

Seek's avatar

It’s been doing that to me, too, @ucme

Probably a bug from the server switch thing.

ucme's avatar

Ok, cheers for that @Seek thought I was going mad

ZEPHYRA's avatar

@ucme now thrice!

AshlynM's avatar

Yes, I would. it would be wrong to hide that from them.

Jeruba's avatar

I wouldn’t have told him about the pregnancy until after the danger of miscarriage had passed. (And in fact I didn’t.) But if I had to tell a child about a miscarriage, what I said would depend on my sense of the child’s maturity and ability to handle troubling information.

I think it would take extraordinary care and sensitivity to convey this information without seriously frightening the child. Being left to imagine that his mother might be walking around with a dead baby inside her—not just once but at any time—could really harm the child. He could even be retroactively scared at the idea that he might have died inside his mother, and think that women everywhere might be carrying little corpses. Nightmare stuff.

Not asking questions does not necessarily mean comprehension or satisfaction. It could mean that the child has arrived at his own idea of the explanation, that he thinks it’s obvious and everyone believes what he believes, or that he fears the answer. Kids put observations together and form their own conclusions, sometimes stunningly wrong but still beautifully logical.

I remember a story about a little kid who was told that his baby sister was crying because she had gas. Later and unrelatedly, he heard his dad say that the car died because it ran out of gas. The boy started crying hysterically and for days wouldn’t say what was wrong. Finally he admitted that he thought his little sister was going to die when she didn’t have gas.

si3tech's avatar

@Judi IMHO if the child was told/knew of the pregnancy, then yes.

Judi's avatar

@JLeslie, I have no idea what her plans are. She’s not a good enough friend to ask. I know she was hoping to get pregnant again but had some sort of medical complication involving chemo in its treatment

JLeslie's avatar

I agree with @Jeruba. This is partly why I said you don’t have to use the word “died” when explaining the loss of the pregnancy. A young child doesn’t really understand pregnancy. They probably picture a full fledged baby inside and often don’t understand how it got in mommy’s tummy or how it gets out. We aren’t in their 5 year old heads, and they might not let us know exactly what they are imagining.

@Judi Did you mean to direct your answer to me? I’m very sorry to hear she needed chemo. Chemo sometimes throws women into menopause.

Seek's avatar

Heaven forfend we teach our kids where babies come from and how they form, instead of relying on them to figure it out sometime between 5th grade and when they lose their virginity.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seek Is that directed at me? When I was 5 I was told the truth about where babies come from. I have always been told the truth about sex, pregnancy, everything. At 5 I still didn’t understand sex, life, death, pregnancy, and many other things in the way I understand as an adult.

Assuming children “understand” everything that is told to them is a mistake. Their perception is different, their understanding of the world is different.

Jeruba's avatar

@Seek, I taught my son where babies come from. He was 2½ and about to become a big brother. I used one of the most useful words in my vocabulary for my son: “special.” “The baby comes from a special place inside the mother’s body.”

“How does it get out?”
“When it’s time, there’s a special place for it to come through.”
“Can I see it?”

That was really sufficient until he was older.

I did have a miscarriage between #1 and #2, but there was scarcely anyone to tell at that stage.because I’d been very cautious with my news to begin with.

(By the way, I kept a careful awareness of my son’s vocabulary, practiced new words with him and knew when he’d acquired them, and didn’t rely for important information on words he hadn’t mastered.)

Dutchess_III's avatar

I was told about sex when I was 5. It sounded like utter nonsense to me.

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