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Parent Sparks Drama By Having Daughter Include Dead Family Members In ‘Morbid’ Family Tree Project


Everyone thinks kids are so sensitive to everything.

Or is the world raising them that way?

Issues with lessons in schools has become a uniquely heated topic.

There seems to be no escaping drama there.

Case in point…

Redditor deadfamily88 wanted to discuss their experience and get some feedback. So naturally, they came to visit the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit.

They asked:

“AITA for having my daughter write a ‘morbid’ school family tree project?”

The Original Poster (OP) explained:

“My biological family is dead.”

“I was raised in foster care, and so my friends are my family.”

“I met my late husband in college.”

“He was just raised by his mother, who had abandoned him and later died (no adoptive family).”

“As an adult, I’ve looked into both trees and our biological ancestors are, to put it mildly, really dangerous people and/or dead.”

“My late husband and older son died in a car crash.”

“My daughter is in kindergarten and she, more accurately me, was supposed to do a family tree project for school.”

“I tried speaking to her teacher that this was not going to be a Pollyanna report.”

“But she is one of those people that can’t comprehend that sometimes family is a dark subject, and insisted that it needed to be biological.”

“So, I did it.”

“Some of them, like her father and my son, I have actual information for aside from that they’re dead.”

“But for most of my family and her paternal family, I literally only have birth date, death date, when they would have had their kids, and cemetery information, unless they were cremated.”

“It was supposed to have 10 pictures, but most of the pictures I have of any ancestors are just headstones.”

“I made a trip when my husband and I first married to take pictures of the headstones, so I included those in there.”

“I only have 3 pictures total of my biological family, and most of them are group shots where I could only label maybe 3 people.”

“I don’t have any pictures of my late husband’s family from before me and my kids, but I put some of the old ones in there too.”

“So while the other kids had long family trees, my daughter was basically introducing the concept of death to her kindergarten class.”

“Now I’m getting slammed with calls from other parents, the teacher, and the principal.”

“They’re appalled that I allowed such a ‘morbid’ report and are saying I traumatized their children.”

“I don’t think I did anything wrong.”

“They wanted a report on her biological ancestors, I gave it, and kept it G-rated.”

“I just didn’t lie that people were alive when they weren’t.”

“I don’t raise her to think that death is taboo or something to be ashamed of anyway.”

“Death is part of life.”

“Most of her/my family is dead, so talking about family just means talking about death, and it’s just something you have to accept.”


Redditors shared their thoughts on this matter and weighed some options to the question AITA:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Many Redditors declared OP was NOT the A**hole.

“NTA. The concept of life and death is complex for kindergarten age children.”

“However, you warned the teacher and she was clear about what she expected from the project.”

“Also, r/MaliciousCompliance might enjoy this story.” ~ Virulencer

“I’m a teacher and this was a lesson I had to learn while still in college.”

“My professor had us do family trees and we had to go back as far as we could.”

“My college was oddly diverse for a town so small, so we had a lot of different backgrounds participating in this project.”

“One guy traced his family all the way back to the Mayflower.”

“I’m Black, so it’s pretty obvious that I couldn’t go past 1865.”

“Several of my classmates come from adoptive/foster families or just have no idea who their parents are.”

“The assignment couldn’t be completed as directed.”

“When the next class meeting was held, he explained to us that we’re going to run into similar issues in our own classrooms.”

“Our students will come from all walks of life and we have to be mindful and respectful of that.”

“I do a family tree project every year.”

“I teach Spanish.”

“I make sure that the kids know that the purpose of the project is to have them work with the vocabulary.”

“It doesn’t have to be their actual family.”

“I show them my actual family tree as an example, and then I also show them the Lion King family tree as an alternative.”

“I’ve gotten some dope-a** projects as a result.”

“One kid did a poster with tinker bell’s family tree.”

“Another just decided that she wanted to use her own family, and substitute the members that she didn’t like with some of her favorite celebrities.”

“One child decided to make his family tree out of his favorite teachers and no-so-subtly demonstrate which of us he shipped.”

“We should always be sensitive to our students’ home lives.”

“That s**t is important.”

“Edit: Wow you guys.”

“I came home from work, (retail, not my teaching job) and I saw all of these lovely and encouraging replies in my inbox and now I’m crying!”

“You guys are so sweet.”

“I often doubt if I’m even a good teacher, but your kid words mean so f**king much.”

“I want to thank all of you individually, but there’s way too many and I’m super ready for a nap.”

“Thank you guys so much.”

“And if any of you have questions about teaching or anything, my inbox is open.” ~ theoretical**ckjokes

“Fellow teacher here, and I just want to say that I freaking LOVE this project!”

“Kudos to you for being sensitive and inclusive to your students while also creating a meaningful learning experience that allows their creativity to shine.”

“I’m willing to bet that you get to learn a lot about your kiddos through the way they approach this project (and not just about their family circumstances).”

“I am also willing to bet that this is an activity that really helps you build a positive and supportive classroom community; doing something like this is a clear signal that you value and respect them as individuals.”

“That sense of safety can’t be faked.”

“Your students are really lucky to have you!” ~ fuzzgirl619

“I’m going to recommend the book Signs of Safety as an amazing toolkit for how to do that kind of thing.”

“Totally changed how I practice, and really practical stuff not just theory.”

“It gives you questions like, Who would you call when you have to make a hard decision?”

“Who gives you the best advice?”

“If you couldn’t pick your child up from school, who would you call to come get them?”

“Lots of questions to help draw out who is in their lives.”

“At the end we have a big complex map and I get to say, look at all the support you have! Wow!” ~ RainahReddit

“I love how you made it clear and pointed what the purpose of the assignment was—to have them focus and work on vocabulary.”

“I work in education and I’d say the majority of teachers are good, and work so hard.”

“But many of them do not grasp that there is nothing wrong with letting the kids know what the ‘meat’ of an assignment is.”

“Some seem to think that the kids will intuitively know, or that the ‘good students’ will strive for it.”

“But I have observed that all it seems to do is create anxiety for students who then don’t know where they should put the majority of their time and effort.”

“Too many teachers spend too much time on Pinterest and want these ‘magical’ projects.”

“Sure—that’s great, and they’re nice for putting on the bulletin board in the hallway.”

“But it is far better to focus on making the aim clear, and letting the kids bring the creativity naturally, rather than forcing it.” ~ HappyLucyD

“Fellow Spanish teacher I do the same.”

“I even will let them make up everything as long as it’s labeled correctly.”

“Want Trump to be married to Michelle Obama with Joe Biden as their son?”

“Sure! Just use the correct words!!”

“OP NTAH. That teacher really needs to think about where her students come from.” ~ mlrst61

“Honestly, I find this hard to believe.”

“As a parent myself I’m somewhat surprised there are a bunch of 5 year olds that don’t have any concept of death at all.”

“My daughter is 4 and we’ve been talking about it since she was 3 and could, because death comes up in conversations, the news, TV, life.”

“Other people’s kids don’t ask ‘and who is your mom?'”

“‘And who is her mom?’ etc and you have to at some point answer ‘great grandma is dead, but her name was . . . .'”

“Or in my case, my mother, but she defiantly asked back generations.”

“But I’m more shocked at the idea that the teacher could do this project and expect no one to have dead relatives?”

“I feel like so many kids have at least one dead grandparents.”

“I dunno, half the class?”

“And the whole concept of ancestors is going to involve most of our ancestors not being around anymore, right?”

“How is this even discussed with no concept of death?”

“Anyway, NTA, obviously.”

“The only thing I can imagine is they are shocked/upset with the headstones as photos?” ~ TheHatOnTheCat

“OMG! OP’s kid’s teacher needed a nice mind blowing to comprehend that the world isn’t perfect.” ~ shynerdnextdoor

“Also, the teacher is lucky that the ‘biological family only’ comment didn’t blow up in her face and land her in the principal’s office for insensitivity.”

“Are there no same-sex parents with kids in that school? Or adopted kids?”

“The family tree project is kind of outdated, in that a lot of people still think of this as a ‘who shares my DNA tree,’ rather than a ‘who takes care of me and loves me and protects me’ kind of tree.”

“That teacher needs a wake-up call, and it sounds like OP delivered.”

“I just hope she listens and doesn’t push the snooze button on this.”  ~ NotSoAverage_sister

Well OP, Reddit is with you.

You gave warning and did the assignment to the best of your ability.

Plus “art” is subjective.

Good luck with the rest of the school year.