Answering kids awkward questions has been creating uncomfortable silences and red faces from parents since … let’s say FOREVER.
I am sure it is part of the reason we insist on embarrassing them when they are old enough to finally grow a sense of shame. Kissing them in public, wearing socks and sandals in front of their friends and making lame jokes is all payback for those earlier years.
No doubt most of you can relate to a situation where you have had to use some creativity and censorship in stringing together an acceptable answer for your child.
Here are just a few awkward questions kids might ask. And I hope you are prepared with a response … because, you may just be caught off guard when you least expect it.
This opens up a whole other can of worms because if you aren’t careful it will follow with even more awkward questions. And, you may have to explain the whole reproductive system in an afternoon.
Can we just pretend a condom is a balloon?
Nothing gets past our little observers’ curious eyes.
So, how do you answer this question without showing that you are slightly hurt by it?
When this topic came up at home, I was caught off guard. But after I composed myself, I told my son that these lines are something that appears on grown-ups’ faces as they age.
I explained that wrinkles are like badges of honour, telling tales of countless smiles, a few worries, and a whole lot of life adventures. I also let him know that he will also get wrinkles when he becomes an adult.
Thankfully, he was satisfied with my answer. Phew.
This is one question many separated mums can relate to (as well as explaining an absent dad).
Even on a day when my ex is being particularly difficult, I smile and tell them” ‘No, I don’t hate daddy – if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have you’.
Hold. That. Smile.
This question popped out on all types of desserts – cakes, doughnuts, ice cream, the whole lot.
I simply told my little smarty pants that we couldn’t have anything sweet for dinner because they would give our tummies a boo-boo. I added that we can only have dessert after we finish our veggies.
There was still a bit of resistance but he gave up in the end. Mum – 1, Son – 0.
This is something all children think about at some point, especially if they know someone who has passed. If you aren’t religious this question is particularly difficult, because ‘I don’t know’ or ‘nothing’ offers little comfort to a child. This is one question you should be prepared for, because it will come.
This is one of the awkward questions that we get for complaining about our jobs around them.
Seriously, though, I didn’t realise I was talking about work a lot until my son asked me this.
I give him this short answer – “Because we can’t buy your favourite food and toys if I quit my job.” He pondered for a long time, and this question didn’t come up ever again.
Don’t worry, when they grow up, they’ll understand.
I suppose you could answer this and the condom question in the same sitting for a really interesting discussion.
Depending on their age, a watered-down version of the truth is probably the easiest option.
Telling them ‘Mummy has to grow a baby in her tummy’ is probably better than something creepy like ‘you go buy a doll baby from a special shop and it magically comes to life in the night’.
I can still remember how I failed to hold my laughter when these words came out of my little boy’s mouth. It was just too cute and funny.
Kids begin to ask money-related questions once they become aware of how money works.
You can answer this query by telling them that only grown-ups can use credit cards. Or you can tell them that you can get them one toy (emphasis on the “one”) using a credit card but they have to earn it.
Further reading: How to teach your children about money.
Children who hear about IVF from school or conversations might want to understand what it is and how it works. They might notice that some families are formed differently, such as having parents of the same gender, adopting children, or using reproductive technologies like IVF. They may ask questions as they try to make sense of these differences.
You can answer this question something like this:
“IVF is like helping seeds grow into plants, but for babies. Sometimes, couples who want a baby might need some help. The doctors take a tiny part from a mommy’s egg and a tiny part from a daddy’s seed. They put them together in a magic garden in a lab. Then, when the baby is ready, they plant it in the mommy’s tummy.”
As kids learn about stuff, they become curious. I mean extremely curious so they want to explore every single thing, especially when it comes to their bodies.
My child got interested in his boogers (and whether he can eat them) when he was 4.
Here’s a tried-and-tested answer (it worked for me). Explain that “boogers are like superheroes defending your nose from germs. Once they’ve done their job, it’s time for them to retire in a tissue, not on the snack list.”
This is most likely to come from a child who likes to play with baby dolls.
Breastfeeding is something we should all perceive as normal, so again – the best way to answer this question is with honesty.
And, when they are older, you can always blame them for the sacrifices your body made in order to give them life.
This question is made even more awkward when your child says it in a loud booming voice in earshot of the entire supermarket.
If this happens to you, you can use it as a teaching moment to enforce the power of words, and how easily people’s feelings can be hurt.
This falls into the category of all those questions you should know the answer to … but don’t.
Actually … why is the blue?
For these, there’s always the delay tactic of busying yourself with an inane task while you frantically think of a half-suitable answer.
And if all else fails, admit defeat and do what every self-respecting parent does … Google it. That is … if they don’t beat you to it.
Well, they kind of have a point with this one.
What you can tell them is, “You’re right about that, and kids like you should never talk to strangers whether on the phone or in person. But when you’re a grown-up like Mummy, talking to strangers sometimes can’t be helped.”
Add a reassurance in the end, “Don’t worry, Mummy is being extra careful so the stranger can’t do anything bad.”
You can even tell them that talking to people on the phone is part of your job. I’m sure a series of follow-up questions will come next, but you got this!
Kids come to a certain age when they want to know about anything and everything under the sun. This is a good thing!
Yes, we have to answer all their questions (including the inappropriate ones). Sometimes they ask these awkward questions in public and we just want the earth to swallow us whole. Most of the time these inquiries come up while we’re busy with work, cooking, or doing the laundry, and it can be exhausting. But that’s where the fun and the challenges are.
I love that my kid’s questions are so out of this world that I have to pause and think just to come up with an answer. It’s like a breath of fresh air in my hectic schedule. But whenever I don’t know how to respond (I’m only human, you know), I can always ask our friend, Google.
I know you want to satisfy your little one’s curiosity as honestly as possible. You can do that!
You can consider these questions as an opportunity to teach them a life lesson or two and instil good values in them.
Good luck and may your brain be switched on and in gear for the next awkward question.
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