It’s easy to forget that not everyone’s life looks like our own.
But when it’s time to help our children with a kindergarten project, the truth very well may come out in the open.
Take, for instance, one mother who helped her daughter complete a family tree project, even though according to the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit, their entire family had passed away.
Redditor deadfamily88 explained that despite protesting with the teacher, her daughter was still required to submit the project.
But the Original Poster (OP) later wondered if she was in the wrong for how they went about completing it:
“AITA for having my daughter write a ‘morbid’ school family tree project?'”
The OP explained the situation with her family.
“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.”
Though the OP tried to explain the situation to the teacher, the teacher insisted the project be completed as it was originally intended.
“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 a 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.”
But the teacher and others didn’t appreciate how the OP went about it.
“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. AITA?”
Fellow Redditors wrote in anonymously, rating the OP’s project on the following scale:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some Redditors said the OP was not the AH for being honest about her family.
“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.” – Virulencer
“I would be giving each parent that called a piece of my mind. It’s total BS for them to harass OP when she tried to tell the teacher the family tree wasn’t a good idea.”
“But no, the teacher knows best, and said it had to be biological, which is indeed discriminatory against adopted children. I would also march down to the school and tear both the teacher and the principal a new one.”
“Don’t give me crap when I did exactly what was asked. So sorry not all family history is sunshine and lollipops.” – Cyclonic2500
“NTA How do you do a family tree report and Not expect death to be a pretty big topic? By kindergarten at least Some of the class is going to have dead grandparents. We do not all live in a happy movie and let’s be real – these are 5-6 year olds – most of them will have seen a Disney movie by now. Guess what happens in almost every Disney movie? A parent dies.”
“These people need to get over themselves. I’d tell the other parents to take it up with the teacher, tell the teacher you tried to talk to her but she wanted to Pollyanna her way through your concerns, and tell the principal that your child shouldn’t have to hide who she is and where she’s come from for the sake of other people’s comfort.”
“They assigned this report, this is your kids family. Are they telling you that you should teach your daughter to lie? Is having dead relatives something to be ashamed of?”
“They are being ridiculous.” – TimeandEntrophy
Most agreed and focused on the teacher, stating she needed to learn a thing or two.
“OP is NTA and the teacher should listen when people say their family isn’t a suitable topic.”
“The instance it has to be biological is BS anyway. She might have students who are adopted and don’t know anything about their bio family because it’s a closed adoption. Not every student will be able to complete the assignment as laid out and kids shouldn’t be penalized for it.”
“That teacher needed a cold hard dose of reality.” – LeadingJudgment2
“Honestly I want to have words with this teacher for the sheer lack of intelligence and awareness surrounding this situation. She needs a good whack upside the head!” – Hungry-Time-1485
“NTA, the teacher was highly insensitive. Also insisted it had to be biological? That sounds discriminatory against adopted people.”
“Tell the principal you attempted to address the situation with the teacher and were dismissed, and that she left your daughter with no options if she were going to turn in the assignment.”
“And why are parents calling you? Is there an open phone list? Did you authorize having your contact info shared with other parents?” – velvet_wire
Though it can be hard for us to remember that others’ lives are not like our own, it’s important to at least be accommodating to the concept of diversity.
Perhaps if the mother and daughter were given the opportunity to talk about family in another way, their project wouldn’t have given the other kids nightmares.