How to answer kids’ questions isn’t something that comes easily to parents, even those like myself with a 19 year old down to a 4 year old, and 6 in between. In fact, sometimes I’m just as stumped now as I was when my first tough question from the first one was asked. Maybe it’s not as often, but it still becomes an issue quite a bit. Here’s where I found an article in my Parenting School Years September 2010 issue very helpful, with a few of the suggestions they made regarding commonly asked questions by kids.
What happens when you die?
Starting out with very literal explanations about medical types of things is helpful. Once you’ve done that you can then bring up some of your traditional, religious and cultural beliefs with regard to the soul, eternity, and the afterlife. Parents that are reflective and listen to their kids are always a plus, as stated by James Brush, Ph.D., a child psychologist in Cincinnati. In fact, he states that sometimes just letting your kids witness you reflecting their question is enough for them.
Have you done drugs?
If you have, be honest and tell them so. You can also include your own consequences for those actions to demonstrate the negative aspects of getting involved in drugs. Lying will ruin your credibility with your kids and you want to protect that no matter what. They need to trust you, as stated by Michele Borba, Ed.D., an author of the Big Book of Parenting Solutions. In fact she makes mention in this article of kids telling her that the worst lie they ever heard was the one their parents told them!
Why are you two fighting?
Let your child know that you still love each other but that when two people spend a lot of time together they disagree about things sometimes. Myrna Shure Ph.D., author of “Thinking Parent, Thinking Child” suggests letting them know that at these times, your voices may become louder and that some emotions may be shown.
Who do you love most?
This statement usually indicates that one of your kids senses that their sibling may have an upper edge in something like their grades or athletic ability or whatever the case may be. This article suggests to be reassuring at a time like this by praising the things that that they’re good at, coupled with letting them know how much you love them.
Getting stumped by some of these questions is inevitable. However, putting some thought into appropriate answers with some reflection on your goal when answering will help to steer the conversation in the right direction.
Parenting School Years September 2010