(LOS ANGELES) — Actress Taraji P. Henson is recalling the time she had to go through a parent’s worst nightmare, telling her young son that his father was murdered.
A preview of Wednesday’s Peace of Mind with Taraji shows the 50-year-old speaking about the difficult decision she faced upon learning that her ex-boyfriend, William Johnson, was killed.
“My son’s father was suddenly taken, murdered, when he was 9 and I didn’t know how to tell him that,” Henson admits to co-host Tracie Jade Jenkins. “I couldn’t tell him he was murdered.”
Johnson, who was 34 at the time and Henson’s high school sweetheart, was stabbed to death on January 26, 2003. Police said a confrontation over a slashed tire escalated and led to his death.
Because the Empire alum was unable to tell her child, Marcel, the truth, she lied and said Johnson “died in an accident.”
“I just didn’t have the words. I didn’t know how to tell a 9-year-old,” Henson tearfully explained. “[His dad] was stabbed to death. It was the worst way you could die.”
Marcel, who is now 26, eventually learned what happened and confronted her, said Henson.
“He came back to me and was like, ‘Why didn’t you tell me my daddy was murdered?’ And so then we had to get therapy,” she said.
The conversation was then turned over to the show’s guest, therapist Sierra Hillsma, who provided tips on how to properly have a difficult conversation with a young child.
Hillsman advised that the best way to talk about sensitive topics with children is to use age-appropriate language and to explain “there are situations where people do evil things to other people.”
Peace of Mind with Taraji airs Monday and Wednesday at 12 p.m. ET on Facebook Watch.
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