Let’s be honest. Kids ask hard questions.
They do not notice when their curiosity turns our cheeks red, when good words are held captive in our throat, and when we stutter and stumble for answers we have not yet rehearsed.
It is this way with me when my son asks me the first of many hard questions, one I do not so soon expect.
What does it mean to be gay?
He asks, innocently while digging his toe in the carpeted floor, saying he just heard it at school.
My mind, wracking and rattling about, is empty. I am live, on a stage, with lights and the probing eyes of a 7-year-old audience, and I do not know my lines.
I pray, the super quick kind, in my head, and ask Jesus to help me say it right.
I probably don’t, but my son listens, anyway. I am still speaking when he interrupts my thoughts with a random stray thought about cars, which is my cue that the conversation is now over.
It is my first experience with a hard question, but years later, there have been many more.
And I have learned [and am still learning] mostly the hard way, what not to do and what things to remember when the next hard question comes.
- You aren’t expected to answer perfectly or know everything. Really, our child just wants us to respect his curiosity, engage in a conversation, be honest.
- Boys don’t want a super long speech. He just wants to know his mom has a handle on something he doesn’t yet understand and is willing to talk to him about it. A few words with a boy go a long way.
- It’s not about you. If we remember this, numbers 1 and 2 will not be a problem. 🙂
- Curiosity is natural and not bad. A child asking questions about sex and his body and how that relates to others is innocent. It is not the same as adults having an adult discussion. [More detailed questions and knowledge of sex at an early age should be carefully looked into, but that is potentially a different issue.]
- Avoidance is not the right approach. Children ask hard questions for a reason, as their mind is trying to process something they have seen, experienced or heard. When we avoid hard questions we invalidate them and the child feels it. Age appropriate explanations are the key, but always attempt to answer even a hard question. If in doubt, be brief.
- Expect the unexpected. Though we can’t anticipate or plan for every question our child will ask [because trust me, it will be the one we don’t think of], we can ready ourselves to be asked things we’d rather not have to answer. It is why prayers for wisdom in our parenting are so important and knowing what we believe and why we believe it, based on the Word is vital as mom.
As moms, we will never escape the hard questions our children ask.
But what a privilege…that they ask us, first.