Where do babies come from or what happens when we die?
These type of questions are the ones that many parents dread. Once your kids are old enough to put some thought into how the world works their curiosity will cause them to ask deep philosophical questions. The times that I make an answer up is rare. I don’t mind trying to explain these things on an age appropriate level to my kids. I enjoy the opportunity as a way to glimpse how their little minds work. This is the chance to teach them to be thoughtful people.
I prefer giving them a simplified version of the truth as opposed to a well-meaning falsehood.
I don’t like to lie to my kids. We, my wife and I, tell the standard lies: Santa Clause, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, etc. The big questions that they ask are important to them, and I want to be honest as possible without introducing any biases. I don’t want them carrying around my baggage. I want them to make up their own minds and think for themselves. I have met people that have had all their thinking done for them. They are shallow and severely co-dependent.
I encourage free-thinking.
My 7-year-old is quite the little thinker. She will hold onto a thought and mull it over for days. Then, out-of -the-blue, she will ask a question, and it will make you stop and think before you can deliver an answer. The subject matter can be heavy, but I try not to shy away from responding. Last summer when she was only 6 she asks me where does your mind go when you die. That’s a whopper. I don’t want to traumatize my kids, but I also want to be open with them. After chewing on my words for a few moments I told her the truth as I see it.
I told her that I don’t know. That no one has proved anything one way or another. No one knows what happens when we are gone. She asked me what I thought, and I said that it’s like a TV turning off. You just aren’t there anymore.
The next day she asked me why earthquakes happen. I was much better prepared to answer that question.
The questions I hate the most are the hurtful ones.
Why is one of my classmates mean to me? Why do other kids make fun of me I get made fun o?
These are harder to explain. I remember those feelings and the self-blame that goes along with them. I usually ask for more information. If my kids tell me what happened, and they were somehow in the wrong I use this as a teaching moment. The worst is when they don’t know why someone is being mean to them. I want my kids to be better than me with emotion and dealing with others. I try to convey to them that sometimes when someone is nasty to other people they may not like themselves very much. Then they project their negative feelings onto others. I try to make it clear to my kids that if they didn’t do anything to that person, then it isn’t their fault.