"Mommy, why would God give people disabilities, cancer, or food allergies?"
"What if I get cancer?"
"What are those plastic things (tampons) for?"
"Am I going to die too?"
"So, what's the deal with teen pregnancy? How's that happen?"
"Do I have to have surgery to have babies like you did? If so, I don't want to."
"Why is he in a wheelchair?"
"What is Heaven like?"
"Where does the baby come out."
"Why do kids need foster care? Why can't their families keep them?"
Have your kids hit you with any tough questions like these? Or have they blurted out something in the grocery store like, "Why is that man's belly so big?" Well, of course they have. I have had quite of few of the hard questions come up lately at my house. Usually, they ask me them when the bus will arrive any minute, we're with a lot of people, or I have too many coals in the fire to even process well enough to give a good answer. Sometimes they ask questions that I haven't really even figured out myself.
I have a few strategies that help me survive the ambush and I welcome your suggestions too. First of all, I tell the kids that they can ask me anything but it is usually best if we talk about it in privacy. I remind them that people may not like their differences pointed out in public even if we think that it is a good thing. This was true when my daughter stated loudly, "Look Mom! I think that girl is adopted. Isn't that great!" I tell them to "save it for the van." That way they don't have to bite their tongue for too long, just until we make it back to privacy of the van.
Strategy two is for the tough questions. I can especially thank my 8 year old for this strategy being necessary. She is very academically minded and she doesn't want simple answers. I have to be prepared not just for the question but also for the follow up questions. I have had to tell her, "You know what? That is a great question and it deserves a good answer. I need to think about that one a little bit. Can I talk to Dad and get back to you on that one?" I have also told her that "It is a little complicated so we need to talk about it when we have more time." She usually is okay with that, as long as we actually get back to it.
I want them to know that I'll be honest. I have told them that they will may get confused about a lot of things along the way but they know that no one cares about them more than Mom, Dad, and God. They can talk to each of us about anything. I tell them that if I don't know, I'll try to figure it out or look it up. Thank, God, for Google. I remind them as well that kids their age rarely have a clue either so don't automatically trust what they say. Otherwise it is like the blind leading the blind. I have also told them that some of the information we give them (i.e. childbirth) is not to be discussed at school because "Their moms and dads should have that discussion with them." or "Different families believe different things."
I have also said to them, "What do you think?" or "Why do you think it is that way?" or "What do you already know?" This way, it gives me a little insight into where they are coming from. My friend's dad suggested stating, "So what exactly do you want to know? What is your question?" Then just start right there. Good advice Mr. B.
I am trying to prepare myself for the initial "bird and bees" talk and "having your period" conversation. I know these are coming someday and I know that I'll be caught off guard. Any advice? Any good books for the little academically minded kid? How do you survive these moments?