“Where do babies come from?” Yup, when you have kids, tough questions like this are bound to come up at some point, and in many cases, the simplest answers are always the best. In order to help you out, we scooped out the best resources and expert opinions out there. From questions like what happens after you die, and where babies come from, here’s what you’ll need to answer the hard questions your kids are totally going to ask you.
1. Where do babies come from? Yep, this one might come from your three-year-old when his new baby brother arrives, or from your elementary school kid whose friend has already had “the talk.” We recommend getting an age-appropriate book to help out. If your kid is under the age of seven, It’s Not the Stork! by Robie H. Harris is a best bet. For older kids, try It’s So Amazing, another book in Harris’ series, meant for ages seven and up.
2. What happens when you die? It can be hard for kids to grasp the concept that death is permanent, especially young kids. Whether or not you are religious, a basic answer will suffice with this one. Simply explain that when something dies, it no longer grows, breathes, eats, etc. It might help to use things like flowers, animals and insects when explaining.
3. Why does my friend have a different skin color than me? This is a perfect opportunity to talk about race. People often times think that it’s better to not talk about it at all, but Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D. and author of Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: and Other Conversations About Races states, “While I think it is necessary to be honest about the racism of our past and present, it is also necessary to empower children (and adults) with the vision that change is possible. Concrete examples are critical.”
4. How much money do we have? It’s hard for kids to recognize that money does not, in fact, grow on trees. It’s also best to skip explaining how salaries work and try something like, “We have enough to live in our house and provide food and clothes for us to live.” Jayne Pearl, the author of several financial parenting books, urges parents to have an on-going conversation with kids about money (and remind them that this information should not be shared outside the home), even if it’s an uncomfortable topic.
5. Why do you have to work? The easiest answer is that going to work helps the family earn money to live. But rather than make it all about money, you can also explain that mommy works at the school because she likes being a teacher, or daddy enjoys helping people. This helps kids learn at an early age that working is more than just money.
6. Why does Taylor have two daddies? The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy reports that at least one in nine kids comes from a same-sex household, so it’s likely your kid knows or will know someone who does. Explain that just like mommy loves daddy, some daddies love other daddies. Or mommies love over mommies. And, don’t be afraid to use the words “gay” and “lesbian,” because it’s important for your kids to hear an accurate definition from you, rather than in a hateful way from someone else.
7. Is the Tooth Fairy real? Whether it’s the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny or Santa Claus, keep it simple and say, “They are real as long as you want them to be.” And, when your kid is ready for the truth? We especially love how SPOKE contributor Leslie Rush handles this tricky topic.
8. Why are Sam’s parents getting divorced? Non-profit Healthy Children suggests two things: to keep the explanation simple (his parents wanted different things, this is an adult decision, and it has nothing to do with the kids) and assure your kids they are safe and loved.
9. Why did you vote for one person and Bobby’s parents voted for the other person? This question inevitably comes up during presidential elections, especially if your little one is of elementary school age. Simply explain that having a different opinion than your friend is not a bad thing. Healthy Kids also suggests to stay positive and to suggest your kids get involved!
10. Why is the sky blue? We suggest sticking to science on this one. And, we found one of the best resources around, NASA. Check out their easy-to-explain answer. Use it to tell your kids, or better yet, show them!
11. Why are some people mean? This is a question that even us adults ask on a regular basis. The truth is we don’t know why people behave the way they do. So perhaps the best answer is simply, “I don’t know why people are mean. But I’m really glad you’re a kind person.”
What tough questions have your kids asked you? How did you respond? Tell us in the comments below.
— Leah R. Singer