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Talking to children after a parent gets into a car accident

Your spouse gets into a car accident on the way home from work. By the time you get the call, they’re already in the hospital.

While the authorities have to break the news to you, you have an even harder job. You have to break the news to your kids. How do you talk to them about something like this?

The main thing you always want to do is to be honest. Do not lie to the children. Don’t assume you can keep them from finding out what happened. Just talk to them honestly and openly, inviting their feedback and letting them talk. They need to know that they can trust you, even when the situation is very tough.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you need to give them all of the details. Some things might worry them unnecessarily. But you don’t want to give them false information or false hope. Tell them what happened and stress that the doctors and nurses are doing all they can to help. Let them know that you love them and that you’re there for them.

Obviously, the severity of the accident plays a large role in how this goes. That’s a very different conversation if you think the other parent may pass away compared to if they just have a broken leg. But you can still use these fundamental ideas — compassion and honesty — no matter what.

As you work through this situation with your family, be sure you fully understand all of the legal options you have to seek financial compensation for medical bills, lost wages, funeral costs and more.