Lesley - posted on 01/10/2012 ( 12 moms have responded )
My 9 yr old daughter's beta fish died while we were away on a 2 week vacation. I had told her to clean his tank and put out some extra food but she did neither. When I learned of this, I contacted her aunt who went to our house to feed him. Sadly, when we returned home, the fish is long dead and decomposing. I believe it is more from the unclean water and the fact that she had placed a dead starfish in his tank (unbeknownst to me). In any event, it is very likely, it was not natural causes/old age that killed him.
My question is threefold.
1. Do I dispose of the smelly fish and clean up the tank before she gets home from school or wait and have her help me do it after.
2. Do I let her believe that the fish dying was not her fault or should I be honest with her that it was likely the lack of care and then support her and help her work through her guilt? My fear with complete honesty is that she'll be devestated that she caused his death; however, if I allow her to believe she did nothing wrong, her carelessness may be repeated.
3. I'm also feeling a bit of guilt/responsibility for not double checking that she had cleaned and fed him before we left, particularly because I know how scatter-brained and easily distracted she can be. Do I acknowledge my share of the blame with her?
She is a very kind-hearted and sensitive girl. She lobbied her father and I for over a month to be allowed to get the fish and did so primarily on the platform that she wanted to show us how responsible she could be.
Thoughts on how to handle this one?