It’s a big topic today–how to answer your kids’ tough questions.
If you haven’t been hanging out with me over on IG (@thisaveragemom) or watching the Fools in Love Podcast Live show on Wednesday nights, then you don’t know about how REAL things have gotten over here since someone (cough cough Harlyn) turned FIVE.
It was seriously like a switch. At four, her questions were easy enough to handle, and simple answers satisfied her. And then, on April 24, she turned 5 and things haven’t been the same since.
Let’s just recap, shall we????? At bedtime (and ONLY once Brandon has left H’s room and I’m the lone parent), Harlyn comes to life with hard questions. So far, she’s asked for clarification on what happens to people who don’t go to heaven, where hell is, what cancer is, the different ways people can die, and the most recent: “Mom, how do babies actually come out of your body?” And friends, she doesn’t want me to sugar coat. Up until this point, we’ve always just said when it’s time for a baby to come out, the mommy just pushes the baby out. It satisfied her question up until last week, when she must have randomly realized there’s baby sized hole in my stomach or anything. So I asked her if she wanted the truth, and then I told her that babies either come through the vagina, or you have a C-section and they cut your tummy and lift the baby out. She was simultaneously appalled and intrigued.
Anyway, that’s how it’s all been. She didn’t appreciate my death answer of “you hopefully die in your sleep at 100 years old” and pressed until she got me talking. And then she’d say “and are those the only ways someone can die??” after each answer I provided.
I feel both honored and horrified that Harlyn has chosen me, not Daddy, to get deep with. I’d really like if she’d throw some Q’s out while the three of us are together, but alas…so far, that’s not how it’s going.
Alright. Now that you know all that, let’s chat.
- Answer truthfully but appropriately.
We operate on telling the truth, but only answering what has actually been asked and limiting based on age. For instance, I did tell her how babies come out, but we didn’t have a full on birds and bees conversation. She’s 5. Her knowledge of the topic now includes that God puts a baby in a mommy’s belly, and the baby comes out vaginally or by C-section. End of story.
- If you don’t know, say so.
There have been some follow up questions to the main topics I’ve mentioned. And a few times I’ve had to answer those follow ups with “I don’t know.” I think it’s important for kids to see that while we are always available to talk with them, we may not always have a perfect or perfectly accurate answer. We’re only human, and we don’t know everything. I’d rather tell my kids I’m not sure than make something up so I can be the smartest mommy ever.
- Be comfortable with discomfort.
I was shocked at the stuff Harlyn was asking when it started a few weeks ago. It’s not very comfy when your preschooler wants to chat about hell. But here’s what I know: if I don’t act like it’s okay to ask me anything, my kids will NOT ask me anything. If I act uncomfortable when death, sex, or other hard topics come up, they’ll make it the last time they ask me. Brandon and I want to be the FIRST people our children come to, not the last, so we know that the way we react to questions matters.
- Tailor your answer to your specific child
Listen, I know there are moms out there reading this post like, “Oh my gosh, she is telling her five year old wayyyyyy too much. Newly five is too young.” But my daughter is a younger version of me, so I know her brain and I know what she’s asking and what she can handle, just like you know your own kids. What is right for me/my family might be very different than what’s right for you and your family. And I’m sure we will handle Maverick’s questions differently than Harlyn’s because they are two different people.
How do you handle tough Q’s in your home? If your kids aren’t quite old enough, how WILL you handle it when difficult topics come up?