Addressing curiosity: How to answer the tough questions your child asks
Kids say the darndest things – and then they ask even more! Curiosity can lead to some uncomfortable discussions. If your child is still young, but has already developed into that egocentric independent self, follow these four steps to answer any curiosity question. What you say can have a lasting impact.
The number one thing you need to be with your kids is honest. Just when you least expect it, out pops that question that can be very uncomfortable to answer. Use proper terminology and age appropriate details. The answers to questions like these should all sound the same answer regardless of age. However the number of details shared may differ. Here are some examples:
Where do babies come from? Explain that when two people love and care for each other, they are intimate. The female has eggs and the male has sperm. You get the picture. Be very matter of fact, look your child in the eye, and give age appropriate details.
How did the baby get into your tummy? Same concept. It may be as simple as saying “The mom’s fertilized egg stays inside her body to develop into a baby. It’s quite miraculous how babies grow.”
Did you ever do drugs? Straight answer – yes or no. Follow it up with the consequences and the impact. Never hesitate to tell your kid “say no to drugs.”
Give answers that echo your values
When faced with curiosity questions, keep your core values in mind. It’s a perfect teaching moment for parents and an influential learning moment for kids. Answers will be dependent on faith, beliefs, and virtues. Keep in mind that not all people believe as you do. Big questions can be posed that touch on sensitive subjects like death, sex, and behaviors, such as:
What happens when people die? A good answer may be “Some believe your soul is reincarnated. Our faith believes your soul goes to Heaven.”
What does F*$# mean? Those nasty words can bring on many questions that give you an opportunity to say, “It’s a term that we do not use in this house. It is used in many contexts, but they are not ways that we choose to talk.”
Kids will notice anything not like their own: Jacob has two moms. Why is her skin so dark?
Why does that person talk funny? Kids are direct. Your answer can be too. Always make sure your answer is respectful. “Yes, he does and they love him very much.” “Her skin is darker just like someone’s hair can be darker than yours, or their eyes are a different color than yours. Regardless, you base opinions on how you are treated by others, not by how they look.”
Don’t avoid topics
Sometimes the easy way out is to just avoid the topic – switch to a different topic, abruptly change the subject, response with “What do you mean?” We know very well what our kids mean with these questions. Address them directly without emotion.
Why does that lady smell? “She may not be able to bathe every day.”
What does ____ mean? Insert any topic in TV commercials. For example “what does erectile dysfunction mean?” How does a parent answer that question? By simply stating what it is, and that it can happen as men age. Again, be matter-of-fact, answer the question and redirect attention.
Give answers that tell your child that they can trust you. Kids will seek out other sources if their mainstay seems to be clueless or impatient. Give them a reason to keep asking YOU the tough questions.