Any parent will tell you that kids seem to grow up so fast. As quickly as life can seemingly fly by, it becomes even truer when you watch your children grow up in the blink of an eye. These cute bundles of joy will soon be crawling, then walking, then heading off to their first day of school. It’s in many ways bittersweet to see this transformation: to know that you’re doing everything you should be for your child but to also know that one day they will grow up, move out and start their own families.
Certain moments in a parent’s life illustrate just how quickly they seem to grow up – one such example is when one or more tough questions are asked. No parent wants to be caught flat-footed by a difficult, uncomfortable or otherwise sensitive question being posed, so knowing how to respond in advance just makes sense.
There are several common, tough questions that your children will inevitably ask: let’s look at them and help you prepare for how to answer them.
Death and Loss
While death may be inevitable, we do not come into the world with an inherent knowledge of our own untimely end. The concept of death and loss are particularly difficult for younger children to understand until they experience it first-hand, but there’s a decent chance questions about this subject will arise beforehand. They can arise when a loved one passes, or even when you and/or your spouse are pre-planning future funeral arrangements. If you are planning for a funeral in advance,then browse these options.
In these cases, it is a perfect opportunity to give them insight into the process and potentially make things easier to understand if/when a loved one, friend or other family member passes. Depending on your specific religious or spiritual beliefs, answering this question may be simpler than some others on this list. However, regardless of belief system, it’s important to be clear in the answers.
Psychologists recommend affirming that death is indeed forever; anything that leaves this world does not return to it. Providing simple explanations of death (without being overly graphic or grotesque) can also be helpful and can easily be explained by summarizing that everybody passes at some point once they reach a certain age.
Children may also feel profound sadness or even guilt in some cases. By explaining that it is not their fault and that their sadness is not permanent, you can make the process easier when it involves a parent or family member.
Sex, Sexuality & Gender
Many parents will tell you that answering questions about the birds and the bees is among the most uncomfortable and awkward experiences they’ve ever had. Explaining perfectly normal yet sensitive biological processes to children can be tough, but we often underestimate the ability for children to understand and process information. In short, they’re not going to think of it as a big deal in the same way you do.
While sex, sexuality, and gender are not always related to each other, a question about one certainly presents an opportunity to cover all of these subjects in one fell swoop. With this subject, in particular, it’s always advised to use age-appropriate terminology and explanations. Children as young as toddlers can be made to understand issues pertaining to sex, sexuality, and gender – and there’s a good chance that they are going to ask about one or more of these things by the time they’re ready to get on the school bus.
A variety of age-appropriate sex talking points are available to guide you, depending on how old your children are when they ask. You may even wish to take the initiative and proactively bring this topic up. After all, it’s only a matter of time before he or she asks what is the difference between private parts on boys and girls, why two men or two women are holding hands while walking down the street, or how he or she got here in the first place.
Children have wild imaginations – and we as parents (and society at large) contribute to that immensely. Children will naturally make up their own stories and adventures, but when it comes to stories about Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny, we have full control over when and how to address this information.
Even for parents who don’t tell these stories to their children, they will inevitably hear about it at school and from other friends. In many ways, deciding how to handle this issue early on will make all the difference in terms of whether this is a tough conversation. An increasing number of parents are choosing not to mislead their children regarding these mythical beings – which can put them at odds with other children who do not believe the same.
Many parents who do have to have this conversation use it as an opportunity to connect it with growing up. You can also explain that the nature of these beings – loving, given creatures – actually lives within each of us and that it’s our responsibility to make these things happen.
Divorce and Separation
Immensely tough to talk about among any family, the nature of divorce and/or separation can be a traumatic experience for children of any age. Whether you and a spouse are in the process of separating or have recently parted ways, children are bound to ask questions about this upheaval whether you bring it up or not.
While the youngest of children may not innately understand what is changing, even toddlers will quickly figure out that something is happening. As a parent, it is your responsibility to convey first and foremost to the children that the divorce or separation is not their fault. It’s imperative that both parents convey a uniform message to the children in order to avoid any unnecessary trauma.
Depending on age, answering why this is happening should be as straightforward as possible. You can explain that people grow apart, and sometimes they are no longer capable of living together amicably. Life is filled with tough questions, and growing children are bound to ask many themselves. You can be prepared for the most commonly asked tough questions: by knowing what to expect, you’ll be better prepared to field any inquiries from those inquiring minds with less awkwardness and better clarity.