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Should Kids Attend Funerals?
Q: My daughter did not think that her seven-year-old should attend a recent funeral. I noticed that other children who did attend seemed to handle the service very well. My grandson is very curious and asks lots of questions. Is he emotionally capable of attending a funeral?
A: Most child bereavement specialists believe that children as young as three years old are equipped to attend both a funeral and a burial at the cemetery. Kids need as much closure as adults and these rituals satisfy that need. Parents or other loved ones should explain to the child what will happen at the funeral. A child shouldn't be left alone at a funeral service or ever be forced to go to a funeral. Children need to be able to say good-bye too, especially if they were close to the deceased. Earl Grollman's Talking About Death: A Dialogue Between Parent and Child is a superb resource for families dealing with this issue.
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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.