Why did you even decide to have another baby?
Wait, you’ve had sex?
If Grampie is your step daddy then who is your real daddy?
What are those for? (about tampons and pads)
Why can’t he walk? (about someone with a disability)
I think one of the most fun and interesting topics is how we can communicate with our children in a conscious way about complicated matters of the world. I feel that those small, incremental conversations we have on a day to day level, are what makes up our children’s belief systems and their outlook on life. It’s also what gives them the foundation for answering those questions themselves.
I have a formula of how I think we can answer almost any question our children ask. Although I do believe in nuance, and applying this to your situation as undoubtedly it won’t be for every single situation ever. One caveat is this: if you’re not yet calm and able to handle the topic at hand, then it might be something you have to put off or have another adult answer. In most cases, I think this formula will serve you.
There are really only two things our children need from us when they ask a complicated question like “Will you die?” or “Have you and daddy had sex?”
- [7:45] The bare bones facts. What are the absolutely indisputable (as much as possible) bare bones facts. For example, “Will you die someday?” The bare bones facts are that yes everybody dies. What about suicide? You could explain that Grandpa decided he wanted to die, so he made his body die or he took medication to make his body die. I think even in this situation it’s important to tell the truth, for which children need to know they can always depend on us for. We need to maintain ourselves as a trustworthy source of information. The truth will come out. Eventually they’ll hear about it, and it may become much more painful that they were lied to about it. That’s why I think keeping it simplified, and buffering it but still not lying is so important. As a third generation holocaust survivor, I do tell my children that their great grand parents died in gas chambers or were shot. In the time of childhood where there’s safety and loving arms, with your parents there to help you process and understand is where we develop the wherewithal and the ability to process that information. It doesn’t suddenly land on us at age 18. I personally believe children have the ability to understand anything that they have the capacity to ask, and I think they have the right to know the truth. Children have the ability to understand anything they have the capacity to ask.via @ParentingJunkieTweet ThisMaybe not ALL of the truth ( I don’t need to take them to the holocaust museum and show them Schindler’s List), but they need a capsule of truth. We must also ask the opposite question: what’s the benefit of withholding information? I believe it comes from a place of fear that our children can’t handle a difficult conversation. But I want my children to grow up being able to handle difficult conversations.
- [19:55] The beliefs that help us to understand facts. The bare bone facts might be, that Mummy and Daddy didn’t want to be married anymore so we got a divorce. The beliefs that help us to understand could be, “It was so wonderful that we were married because it meant that we had you. We’re always going to be a family, but it’ll be a bit different. Now we get to have two homes.” If a loved one has just died, my heart goes out to you and I send you my sincerest condolences. When It’s topical, it’s so much harder to talk about because you’re grieving. That’s why I would rely even more on these things: the bare bones facts and the beliefs that help us to understand facts. For example, “Daddy’s body stopped working and he died. He’s not coming back and we’re going to miss him so much. I believe that Daddy is going to live on in our memories forever. And we’re always going to tell amazing stories about him, and he’s going to live on in our hearts forever.”
I first introduced the Five T’s to help explain to children where babies come from. I’m confident they can help you with almost ANY tough question your child pops.
- [23:37] Timing – When your child is curious that’s the perfect time to answer. If they’re asking in front of someone, or in a busy place, or when you’re too tired or triggered – it’s absolutely OK to say, “That’s a great question! I don’t want to forget to answer so I’m going to write it down. Let’s talk about it at dinner time.” Answer questions as they arise. If a child is old enough to ask, they’re old enough to hear an answer in some fashion. If you can’t answer in that moment be sure to follow!
- [25:45] Truth – A simplified version is OK, especially if it’ s a scary subject like war. Keep it simple and digestible, but it must be the truth at all times. I passionately believe we have to tell our children the truth. You have to differentiate between the scientific facts and our belief systems. We want to be their go to source of trustworthy information, especially as they get older.
- [27:29] Terminology – Use real terminology like death, murder, sex, war, penis, and vagina. Don’t say someone’s body went bye bye, or that mummy and daddy hug and then get pregnant. Or worse, don’t say “someone went to sleep” when they actually died because the child could become terrified to go sleep.
- [28:59] Tone – We communicate even more with our body and tone of voice than our words. Our body language will subconsciously inform our children whether or not we feel comfortable with this topic. We want to channel our inner Yoda, to be their guide. Be just as calm as if they ask, “How does water get into our tap?” or “How do bees pollinate flowers,” or “Why does the sun set?” It’s just the way the world works, and they just need answers. If we can’t be chill in the moment, then wait. But we need to answer their question. If you say you’ll answer it and you don’t, they will seek answers elsewhere.
- [32:32] Tools – Books, videos, other experts, websites, or music. What can help us process and learn more? For example a scientific video to show how babies grown in the womb. Children will seek the information. We want in the moment to help them find the right information, that we can vet. It really sends the message that their questions are worthy of research, of going to the library, of asking their uncle who’s a doctor. Even questions that aren’t scientific in nature like those about divorce – there can be great tools out there. Draw a picture, get creative!
- [34:30] Questions about BABIES
Can I have a baby in my tummy? (from your son)
You know, as far as I know people who are boys can’t have babies in their tummy. You can have a baby in your partner’s tummy. If your wife is female, and if it works for you, you could have a baby in her tummy.
Why did you even have another baby?
I love being your mum so much and daddy loves being your dad. So we decided to have another baby! I loved having siblings so much (or I always wanted a sibling) and so I wanted to give you one.
Wait have you had sex?
Yes. I’ve had sex. Daddy and I have had sex and that’s how we got pregnant with you?
- [37:05] Questions about G-D
Who is G-d?
you know G-d is the name we give to whoever created the Earth. Some people as a person with a beard who lives in the sky. Some people think of him as a loving energy. What do you think? In our faith system we believe G-d created us, began the earth, guides us, etc.
What are souls made of?
I would say, I don’t know. I think of it as that special feeling that makes us feel alive. I think of it as who we are inside. What do you think?
Why don’t you believe in a specific religion?
I’m not sure yet. I’m still figuring it out. I’m still exploring and learning.
- [40:10] Questions about FAMILY
If you love daddy why can’t we live with him?
I love him, but living together wasn’t working for us. It’s best if we each get to enjoy you guys separately. I don’t live with everyone I love. I love Grandpa, and Joe, but I don’t love living with them.
If Grampie is your stepdaddy who is your real daddy?
Say something true. I never really knew him very well. I didn’t want to be connected to him anymore. He left my home when I was very young, etc.
Why aren’t my grandparents together?
They didn’t want to stay married. They’re both great. They both love you. But it works better for them when they live apart.
Why do we trust Noni but not Granny?
One grandma has mental health issues. We love Granny so much but she’s sometimes has trouble managing things. This would be too hard for her, or it’s not right for her to be looking after children.
Why are you sad all the time? (when you suffer from depression)
Sometimes it might be a straight up. I just am. I don’t really know. I don’t have answers for why I’m sad. OR you could say something like there are some chemicals in my brain that sometimes make me sad. OR there are some sad things that happened to me and I’m working through it still. There are some people who are making me feel better and i’m getting a lot of help. It’s an opportunity to unapologetically demystify mental health issues.
Why did they give me up for adoption?
If you know the bare bone facts – the woman who gave birth to you wasn’t able to be a mummy. Even though she loved you very much, she did not have any place to live, or was actually very sick and wasn’t able to take care of you. Or she had problems with scary people and the best way for her to love you was to make sure you had a mummy and daddy who could love you forever. They knew that you would need so much love and that’s why they allowed us to be your mummy and daddy.
[50:15] Questions about SOCIETY
Did you ask any questions as a child, and you were JUST not satisfied with the answers? What were they? Share in the comments.