Having difficult conversations with children can be a challenge for any parent. Explaining the concept of death to younger children is one such subject that some families have probably never had to address.
The pain of Chadwick Boseman’s death has been felt across the world, and the Black Panther actor meant a lot for many children.
For millions of families, this conversation is inevitable, while others are making the decision to skip it.
Like South African blogger Unathi Mbonambi of Our Kinda Family who shared an Instagram post as the news rocked the world. She shared: “I don’t even know how I’ll break this to our kids. Black Panther has been such a part of our family DNA.”
For a young child, it is more than just a character on the big screen. Many dreamed of being a king themselves, while others spent hours playing with their action figures, narrating their own Black Panther stories.
After his passing, many of them used those same action figures to show their respect.
Younger children who have built a strong liking towards Chadwick Boseman do not understand the concept of death yet. This might be the reason why some parents are refraining from having the conversation. These parents do not want to rock their children’s world, with some already experiencing havoc.
The pandemic has taken a lot from adults and children, and their superhero, parents are deciding, should not be one of those things.
For parents who are have decided to have the conversation, here is some advice on how to navigate the talk.
Dr Marilyn Mandoza, a clinical psychologist in the psychiatry department at Tualen University writes about grief for children in a Psychology Today article.
Here, Dr. Mandoza cites that a death experienced in childhood can cause trauma for children. In this case, children that felt closely connected to the Black Panther can be greatly affected.
She advises that it is crucial to have age-appropriate conversations with kids regarding death, dependant on their age.
“When children are not given appropriate explanations, their imagination often comes up with things that could be much worse than the truth,” Mandoza adds.
Children under 5
For this age group, mom or dad can tell the child that Black Panther’s body stopped working. Let them know that this means that they can no longer talk, think, breathe, or eat.
These children usually get the concept of death and how “final” it is. Dr Mendoza advises that parents need to reassure children that his passing was not their fault because these children usually blame themselves for death.