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Old 09-11-2006, 04:08 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Best use for a dead sister?

I have two boys - 3 and 6.

They do not know that I had a sister and that she died a couple of years ago. My sister lived an utterly self-centered life and rarely thought beyond immediate gratification. She killed herself with drugs, food and late-term abortions(s).

I am of two minds as to what to do with this information.

1) Withhold it until the kids are MUCH older and discover the alcohol/drugs. I figure by then, they will have developed some sense of immortality and will be prone to doing stupid, dangerous things. (I did. My dad did. His dad did. It will happen).

Then I'll drop the bomb - "You know, there ARE consequences for your actions. You CAN die from this stuff. Did you know that I had a sister...?"

2) Allow them to grow up knowing that I had a sister and that she died. Dribble the information out over the years, as they are old enough to handle it.

What do you think the most effective way to use this information to help my kids stay alive and healthy?

Yes yes yes, I know it is important to talk to your kids about dangerous vices, and set a good example blah blah blah. I do that already and will continue to do so. But how should I use the tale of my dead sister?
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Old 09-11-2006, 04:22 PM   #2 (permalink)
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If the point of telling them is to discourage drug/alcohol use, dribble it out over the years, because chances are, by the time you think they're just discovering drugs/alcohol, they may have already started experimenting.

If the point of telling them is to just let them know that you had a sister, you could do it either way. My mom told my sister and I all of a sudden before my cousin's wedding that we had an older brother, and she had given him up for adoption when she was 19. Her point in telling us was just so that if a family member were to ever slip and let it out, we wouldn't be surprised.
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Old 09-11-2006, 04:24 PM   #3 (permalink)
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you're kids are still kinda young.. have they experienced death before - i mean relative friend family pet -though goldfish are a bad example cuz they get flushed...

Much much later would be the time to give details of how she died.. and how actions have consequences... and it's probably best to not spring it on them later that you've withheld the sister info...

i myself would prefer to keep kids as innocent as possible, especially little cuties like yours - even the hellion... at what age is too young to learn about death?

tough question... it's a good thing i'm not aparent
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Old 09-11-2006, 05:48 PM   #4 (permalink)
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number 2...

otherwise they may end up growing into a number 1 mode. they need to know the consequences BEFORE the actions are taken...
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Old 09-11-2006, 06:00 PM   #5 (permalink)
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First, I'm sorry to hear of your loss. Losing a family member is not easy.

Definitely option number 2. I wouldn't constantly refer to it, but I think if you 'drop the bomb', it's much more likely to be disturbing to them.

If you do any sort of 'memorial', or visit the grave, or anything, I would include your children in that.
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Old 09-11-2006, 09:01 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I would go with option #2. I think your children are old enough to know that they had an aunt and she died, and if they ask why, say she made some choices that impacted her health.

Option #1 is kind of a not so wise way to go, if you ask me... Teenagers can be funny about things like not knowing some very basic family history. I know if I were in your children's shoes in about 10 years from now, and you suddenly dropped a bombshell about having an aunt I was never told about who died of drugs and whatnot, I would likely be very offended that I'd never been clued in that my mother had a sister and also would not be very likely to listen to any moral lesson that might be attached to her death because my mother hadn't thought her important enough to mention sooner, thus what she did or didn't do probably wasn't that important either.
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Old 09-11-2006, 10:33 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Talk about your sister now and explain her death in what ever way you think is appropriate for your children now. I honestly don't think your kids will accept your sister's death in other than manipulative terms, if you present it for the first time when they are or have experimented with drugs.

My 2 cents Clavus, from a failed stepmother of a teenager on drugs.
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Old 09-11-2006, 10:45 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I am sorry for your loss.

Once they've become cynical teenagers (inevitable, as we all know) springing this information would probably lessen your credibility. Way too convenient, if you get my drift.

I'd go for dribbling.
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Old 09-11-2006, 10:50 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I agree with CalLiveChick. The drinking age is getting lower and lower; I knew some kids who were getting drunk at 13-14 years old. Its a shame.
Option 2 if definately your best bet.
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Old 09-12-2006, 07:26 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Either way will serve its purpose. I am much younger than my siblings, and there were 2 secrets that were kept from me, one was sort of dribbled, the other was a bombshell as a late teen.

Personally, the bombshell easier to understand, I guess because I was older and could understand it better.
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Old 09-13-2006, 10:32 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Some of the lessons that I still hold by were taught to me when I was barely 6...

I say dole it out while they're still young. It'll make more of an impression.
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Old 09-14-2006, 07:39 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I'd say that kind of information should be dribbled out so it eventually becomes another piece of family history.
My brother in law died of a drug OD when his sons were 3 and 5. He was a good man, it was a stupid one-time mistake that cost him his life. We never held back-the simplest terms at first-'daddy died from drugs' without details.
Kids have a right to know about their family. Actually, I'm kind of surprised that, if she died while your older son was here, it wasn't mentioned then.
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Old 09-14-2006, 09:04 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I would go with option two BUT if you DO go with option one (waiting until they are old enough to understand) DON'T wait until it's convenient to tell them in order to scare them away from drugs. Wait till they're old enough to comprehend the implications but not already wanting to try drugs and alchohol. As others have said, if you wait too long it will be viewed as manipulative.

Besides, if you wait til their a teenager. What teenager believes everything their parents says?? or even LISTENS??
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Old 09-14-2006, 04:50 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I had a hard time when a friends mother died when I was a kid... Imagine my shock when i was about 25 finding out that she was a certified crazy woman who comitted suicide.

I was crushed and felt betrayed for my parents lying to me... You may or may not believe what else ive found out they kept from me over the years. There was a long period of time I didnt believe a thing my parents said to me.
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Old 09-14-2006, 08:15 PM   #15 (permalink)
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You can either look at it as a bad example of how to live your life, or you can look at it as a perfect example of how NOT to live your life, and pass that on as a lesson.

I believe that "dribbling out" information is more along the lines of trying to marginalize it, whereas your option #1 is more about using the loss as a lesson, which I think would be much more valuable, and a "better use" of a deceased person's story.

Despite our personal feelings surrounding the nature of a person's death, sometimes the best thing they can do in death is serve as a cautionary tale to others.
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