10 Awkward Questions Every Parent Dreads
As soon as kids learn to talk, the tricky questions begin. Curiosity is a natural part of growing up and if your children haven’t yet started every other sentence with the word ‘why’, fear not – they soon will!
1. Where do babies come from?
Nowadays it’s less about storks, birds and bees and more about fostering a healthy attitude to sex and sexuality from the word go. Although few parents relish the idea of discussing this subject with their progeny, it’s our job to educate our children and prepare them for adult life.
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With younger children, follow their lead by answering only the questions that they ask; there’s no point explaining about lovemaking if the question was simply, ‘Did I grow in your tummy?’ Use terminology like ‘egg’, ‘seed’ and ‘womb’, and tackle questions in a straightforward, child-friendly way. Your son only needs to visit a farm or zoo to become acquainted with the animal version of events, so it’s not too hard a stretch.
You might also choose to use more grown-up vocabulary to describe private parts so as to avoid confusion later on – or playground teasing. If you foster a matter-of-fact attitude and avoid embarrassment, then this paves the way for the thornier queries of the pre-adolescent mind.
2. Why doesn’t mummy have a willy?
Most toddlers accompany their parents to the toilet at some point and this is a natural question to raise. The simple answer is that this is one of the differences between boys and girls. Handbags, spa treatments, and high heels come later.
3. Does God exist?
Religion may play an enormous part of your family and community life, or it may not feature at all. Hand down your beliefs but take care to acknowledge others may not feel the same and that that is normal: everyone is different and diversity makes the world a better place.
4. What happens when people die?
Your faith may answer this for you neatly, but otherwise, it’s OK to reply that nobody really knows. There are many carefully written age-appropriate books available that you could read together. Perhaps steer your child towards nature for a reassuring response, or discuss what happens when a beloved pet passes. Make sure that whichever answer you choose brings comfort to your child in some form, even if it’s only along the lines of having a well-deserved rest at the end of a long journey.
5. Does Santa exist?
There is absolutely no harm in following this treasured tradition, and much fun can be had in leaving out a mince pie for Santa and a carrot for Rudolph. Be aware that around the age of seven, playground banter begins to modify little minds, but only answer in the negative if it’s unlikely to result in floods of Christmas Eve tears.
6. What about the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny?
My son royally rumbled the tooth fairy when he awoke to find his father’s hand mid-switcheroo under his pillow. There’s a certain method of answering these questions with a nod and a wink that older children will notice but that will go over the heads of little ones. There’s a lot to be said for making older kids feel more grown-up by conspiring against the little ones together!
7. What’s a condom/lesbian/orgasm/prostitute?
Just as your toddler learns to talk, she learns to listen and this is when parents need to be aware of what can be heard, such as TV adverts during otherwise acceptable programmes. Before long kids learn to read and then the questions arrive thick and fast (unless you buy them a dictionary). You have two options:
Say, ‘I’ll tell you when you’re older,’ and create a cunning diversion.
Answer truthfully, succinctly and make it sound really boring.
8. What are THOSE?
What a joy: your daughter has found your stash of tampons/sanitary towels/sexual aides and wants to know their purpose. However honest you are, there is little point in going into detail until she knows the facts of life. Now is the time to explain about privacy and how everybody is entitled to some! Then invest in a lockable cupboard.
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9. Please, can I go on the Internet?
Here’s a question that turns the stomachs of most parents. For young children use a safe browser with parental control and insist on being present during computer time. Monitor exactly what your child can see – even some of the better kids’ gaming sites feature occasional inappropriate advertising.
Because as light travels through the atmosphere, the longer wavelengths, like red, orange and yellow, pass straight through, but blue light (which has a shorter wavelength) hits the air molecules and is scattered through the sky. This scattering means blue light reaches the observer from every direction. So there.
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