Okay, I'll admit it. I'm scared to death of dying. I want to die in my sleep and go directly to heaven without feeling a thing. Do not pass Go; do not collect $200. When my father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer, he told his best friend that all his life he'd tried to teach his kids how to live. Now he wanted to teach them how to die. And he did, with courage and grace, just as the Holy Father did this week.
Why don't we discuss death with our kids? There's a terrible, frightening portal we have to walk through to reach sanctuary, and kids sense its' presence. "It is the blight man was born for; it is Margaret you mourn for," wrote the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, describing a small girl's grief over falling autumn leaves. The Rule of St. Benedict says: "Day by day remind yourself that you are going to die." Staying clear of morbidity and avoiding the fear factor, shouldn't we teach our kids to number their days? Here's a good article by Sharon Marshall to get you thinking about age-appropriate discussions.
The beginning and the end of our lives. Sex and death. Two subjects that make us squirm when our kids raise them, yet both must be explored with them if we are to parent well.
(Oh, and by the way, I did practice heroic self-restraint on Saturday. Here's what happened: about fifteen minutes after I turned off my screen and began doing something else, the boys got bored. They unplugged themselves as well and headed outside to find the neighbors. Not sure if this will always work, but it was an interesting development.)