I am the mother of two young, restless and inquisitive boys. They are curious about everything and very often ask difficult questions that I have to try to answer. Some recent examples: Why is water so wet? How does a baby get into a mom’s belly? or my favorite, Why don’t you buy yourself a new husband?
Every child asks these kinds of questions and it’s difficult to find a proper answer for them.
So how can we satisfy their curiosity without giving way too much information, robbing them of their childhood innocence, or finding ourselves cringing with embarrassment?
DEATH & SEX
For very young children, death and sex will be two of the stickiest topics. So just what is the proper answer when your kindergartener asks you, What happens when you die? If you feel trapped in this one, you can answer that nobody knows for sure, but that most people die when they are very old, though some people die because they are sick or because of an accident. If your child wants to know about the spiritual side of death, you can give him an honest answer by saying: Mommy thinks that… This leaves the door open for your child to ask about your beliefs and begin to form his own.
As for the sex questions, well, you have to be prepared to answer truthfully. If a young child asks where babies come from, he might be satisfied with a response such as: When two people love each other, they make a baby. But if he persists, it’s because he wants to know, so give him the information he needs (not more) and be ready for some other embarrassing questions. He will ask them but you want the information to come from you, not from some other source, right?
Read Related: Sex Talk: When and How to Educate Your Kids
DEALING WITH TOUGH QUESTIONS
Remember that children ask questions for two reasons: They are curious and interested in an issue so they ask to have information about it or they have created their own theory about something and want to see if adults confirm what they’ve imagined. They might even want to check to see if adults are lying about certain things they already know. So here are some ways to prepare yourself for tough questions:
- If the child realizes he’s asking a difficult question, he might not ask you directly but try to broach the topic mid-conversation. Be very attentive about what your kid is telling you, not just through words but with all his body language. Is he twisting his hands? Is he looking straight into your eyes? Is he mumbling, or speaking loud and clear?
- Make your child feel you are really interested in his curiosity and never dismiss him because his question makes you uncomfortable. Don’t avoid an answer even if it’s about a taboo topic. If you do so, he will be confused, and too embarrassed to ask you again. If you don’t know the answer, you can do some research with your child so you find the information together. This is also a good tip because young children cannot do research by themselves and older kids can find wrong or undesirable information when researching alone.
- Avoid saying Ask me later, to your child. This only discourages him from coming to you with future questions. And trust me, there will be questions that you’d rather he ask of you than ask of classmates!
- Don’t lie to your child. Give him age-appropriate information. Having adequate information gives the child the ability to make his own decisions and develop a good attitude towards new ideas and experiences.
Be a source of trusted information for your children and teach them to research from good sources. Ask them to come to you no matter how embarrassing the question might be. They need to know you always will be there for them, whether you’re blushing red as a beet or not!