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'Kids, Daddy Was in a Plane Crash'

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How to explain tragedy to toddlers.

Rocker Travis Barker and wife Shana Moak
When we heard that Blink 182's former drummer Travis Barker was in a plane crash over the weekend, we immediately thought of his ex-wife Shanna Moakler and their two kids -- son Landon, 4, and daughter Alabama, 2. Travis also has a special bond with Shanna's 9-year-old daughter from a previous relationship, Atiana. How was Shanna going to break the news?

Although Shanna is not speaking publicly about the accident yet, we wondered what we would do if we were in her shoes. Should you tell kids the truth in times of tragedy, or will it be more than they can handle? Licensed marriage and family therapist Shannon Fox says, "Talking to children about death or serious illness is one of the most difficult challenges a parent can face. It becomes especially difficult if the parent is dealing with their own grief and fears about the deceased or injured person."

Whatever you do, don't rush it. "If it is an illness or injury, you don't need to hurry to tell them the news," Fox advises. "Wait until you have more information about the prognosis so you will be better prepared to answer your child's questions."
For six tips on telling your kids about tragedy, click go to 'Kids, Daddy Was in a Plane Crash,' Page 2.


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13 comments so far | Post a comment now
Joan Ronne September 26, 2008, 3:00 PM

My 26-yr-old husband Rob died suddenly in a car crash one night in 1981. I didn’t tell our 3-yr-old son Jon for about 2 days. I wanted to wait & think about what to say to him & to be very careful when I told him. I knew I couldn’t delay any longer, in case he found out from anyone’s conversations. I told him calmly, gently & simply. While I was telling him, I knew he understood, because he broke-out in hives.

LaDeena September 26, 2008, 4:22 PM



On Oct,3 2005, my friends and I were on our way to see a Cruxshadows show, and on the way out the door I got the same news that my best friend had just died in a accident. I had just spoke to him on the cell phone an hour earlier and told him to meet us at the club in Tempe, AZ. It was so hard to tell everyone that he was deceased.I remember all of us meeting at the Hospital and playing the music of the group we were headed to see for him on a Portable CD playerwhile he lay there dead.It was such a horrible tragedy and seemed so unfair. That year I lost 6 members of my life to death. I had to wonder why? How could life be so cruel? It didn’t stop there either this last year I lost my beautiful 19 year old Niece who was in a car crash. I had to take a business trip out of town the next day..I remember feeling numb from the death…but thought I could deal with it emotionally, on the way back to Phoenix I broke out in hives on my feet and body, that were a night mare in themselves. I guess what I am saying is there is no easy way to accept death. It hurts all of us. My Condolence to everyone who has lost to death.

LaDeena September 26, 2008, 4:24 PM



On Oct,3 2005, my friends and I were on our way to see a Cruxshadows show, and on the way out the door I got the same news that my best friend had just died in a accident. I had just spoke to him on the cell phone an hour earlier and told him to meet us at the club in Tempe, AZ. It was so hard to tell everyone that he was deceased.I remember all of us meeting at the Hospital and playing the music of the group we were headed to see for him on a Portable CD playerwhile he lay there dead.It was such a horrible tragedy and seemed so unfair. That year I lost 6 members of my life to death. I had to wonder why? How could life be so cruel? It didn’t stop there either this last year I lost my beautiful 19 year old Niece who was in a car crash. I had to take a business trip out of town the next day..I remember feeling numb from the death…but thought I could deal with it emotionally, on the way back to Phoenix I broke out in hives on my feet and body, that were a night mare in themselves. I guess what I am saying is there is no easy way to accept death. It hurts all of us. My Condolence to everyone who has lost to death.

Lynda September 26, 2008, 4:31 PM

On May 25,2008 I had to give the worst news possible to our 6 year old grandson that his papa had passed away(my husband and I have guardianship of our grandson and have had since he was born),he had been on an “adventure” with him just a few hours before he died, I sat him down(with the coroner) and explained that papa had become very sick in our summer cabin and now he was watching us and taking care of us from heaven. He understood that his papa was gone and had very few questions that night, the questions have come over the 4 months that he has been gone, as well as the tears and fears which creep up at different times through the day or night,I cannot stress enough that when little guys go through something as horrible as this that you take as much time to re-assure them that there is nothing that they did to have this happen and the person that has gone knew that they would be ok,and this is why God took them and they were ok with going . I think I have more questions then he has, but through Gods grace he has taken is this far.My heart goes out to anyone that has had a horrible thing happen to them that has resulted in the seperation of what we call the normal family.

michele September 26, 2008, 4:33 PM

i think you will known when the right time is .my prays go out to you and his family take care of your self your childen need you

Jo Ann Leifeste September 26, 2008, 6:40 PM

In Dec., 2005, my husband passed away. I was living with my son, his wife & 4 children. My son said he didn’t know how to tell his kids about his fathers passing. I told him I would tell them & asked for a Bible. I read from John, where Jesus said he’d gone to prepare a place for us & would come for us when he was ready. Ater I finished reading that, I asked if they understood what it meant. They all explained what it meant to me so I asked them to guess who got a new home that day. They of course said,”Poppa” & I told them they were right & Poppa would be waiting to show us his new house when we were ready to see it. Of course they were sad but accepted the news much better than everyone thought they would.

Nikki September 26, 2008, 7:36 PM

In April of 2005 my cousin Louis was beaten to death outside of a club. It was 5 miles from him home, and 2 months after meeting his daughter for the first time. He was murdered 6 days after her 1st birthday she will never know what a great person he was and the family has to cope everyday. His daughter will never remember meeting him, never know what it is like to hug or hold her daddy. She will only have pictures and stories from the family to hold onto. I am now a mother of a 3 month old. She will never get to meet my crazy fun loving cousin.I think about my cousin all the time. I hopefully will live long enough to have bond with my daughter. It makes me love life everyday, take the good with the bad, but I still wish things were different.

A thought for the mind: (The men who murdered him are only serveing 6 years in prison, they will get to go free, live, n love life. Have a family and be with friends. The justice system is horrible in the United States)

christina September 29, 2008, 1:06 PM


we’re prayer for tavis barker and his ex wife shanna and kids back together for ever to stay on firm/ kids really need daddy sake after the plane crash it’s very sad… we hope u guys enourage kids develop thier good condition behavior well and action postive life than confusing kids emotional feeling - we know it;’s very hardly on them right now.. keep good family shape well soon love u all our love/sprint/ we’re deaf/had 2 daugther/1 son smile :) take care xo

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