Kids are naturally curious beings, and as parents, it should be our goal to raise children who are continually thinking about and questioning the world around them. That’s how people learn and grow and how changes are made — with questions.
But often a child’s curiosity can mean a big-time hot seat for those careful and well-meaning parents.
What do you do when your sweet little one asks totally inappropriate, completely embarrassing and awkward questions at the absolute wrong time? What do you do when your child makes innocent but hurtful comments out loud about subjects that should be reserved for your home only?
What should you do? What’s the best way to handle it? There’s no easy, cut-and-dried answer, and every situation should be considered differently.
One thing is certain, however, and that is that we’ve all been there. Every parent I know has one story —or ten — about a time when their kids have been kids and created a situation that was less than comfortable around friends, family or strangers. And we all get through it, and we all reach a point, sometimes days, months or years later, when we can look back and laugh at it.
Here are some possible scenarios and some helpful tools to keep in your back pocket — a few statements that can be used to defer tough questions without further embarrassing the child — or the other person.
The infamous but dreaded: “Mommy, is that man pregnant?” when she sees a heavy-set gentleman at the grocery store OR the big “Why does that mommy look different than her baby?” at the playground, when she sees a child whose appearance may differ from the parent’s.
“You have such strong eyes. Isn’t it amazing how we are all created differently, but we are all so very special?”
The heavy topic of “Where do babies come from?” (asked often at Sunday school or in the middle of a church service)
“That’s a really good question. Let’s talk about it on the way home.”
That awful, but honest “Why were you and daddy fighting this morning?” during the morning play date.
“I know it’s hard to hear adults you love disagree, but daddy and I love each other very much and just had a disagreement this morning. We still love you and each other very much.”
The gut-wrenching, “Why are we at (insert person’s name) house for dinner when you always say you can’t stand her company?” while at (insert person’s name) for dinner.
“You have good ears and are a really close listener, but you must have misunderstood, sweetheart.”
If all else fails, you can always throw out a white flag:
- “Did you say you needed to go potty? Super — let’s go!”
- “WOW! Look over there — did you see that squirrel zip up the tree? Let’s go see if it’s still there!”
- “You know, I’m not quite sure. Let’s do some research together and find out this afternoon.”
- “Let’s ask daddy what he thinks. It’s always good to have a few opinions.”
Have you ever been in a situation when your child asked an awkward question at the wrong time? How did you handle it?