Kids are inquisitive little things, aren’t they? The amazing number and range of questions they come out with on a daily basis mean you’ve got no choice but to stay on your toes. Some answers are a simple, short, yes or no, while some require a bit more explanation, and some are going to come at you straight from left field with no warning. They notice more than we realize, and hit us with questions we’d never even considered. Here are some of the usual topics, and ideas for how to respond.
The birds and the bees
The one everyone dreads: “where did I come from?” Nobody particularly wants to sit down and give their kid all the gory details, but it’s got to happen at some point. Long before it’s time to sit down and have The Talk, you’ll be bombarded with questions about babies, especially if you’re pregnant with a little brother or sister for them. While they’re still young, it’s best to keep it vague with something along the lines of “they grow inside their mothers” or similar – they won’t need more details until they’re older. Be honest, matter of fact, and try to avoid giggling, or at least suppress it until afterward.
Kids are pretty astute, and they’re very able to spot differences between their family and others’. If they come from a single parent family and the other parent isn’t in the picture, they’re going to have questions about where the other parent is, so it’s best to be prepared – using a paternity test kit is a good way to give them solid answers, so it could be worth pre-empting these questions. If they come from a two parent home, they’re going to have friends whose parents are divorcing or have split up, and this will naturally cause inquisitiveness and concern. Honesty and reassurance are the best responses here, but try to avoid offering an opinion on the relationship of their buddy’s parents – you never know what they might blurt out at an inconvenient time.
Life and death
“Mommy, what happens to us after we die?” is perhaps the most heartbreakingly difficult question to answer. People of a religious background will have all sorts of scripture and advice to be able to deal with answering this, but those who do not follow religion will have an altogether more difficult time. While telling your child that you don’t know goes no way to reassure them, it’s also not useful to lie. Winning their trust is all about being honest, so prepare your response ahead of time, and be prepared to repeat and reiterate the point countless times while they get their head around your response – after all, it’s a tricky subject even for adults. Talk about how everything eventually dies and returns to nature, but try to keep it lighthearted. This conversation could follow the death of a loved one and may be emotionally loaded. It could be easier to encourage it when walking in nature and spying dead insects and plants. Just be prepared to keep on answering questions as their intrigue grows.
Kids will always ask the most awkward questions at the most inconvenient times, so it helps to have your answers prepared before the time comes.