Answering tricky questions!
Answering tricky questions is just part of the parenting gig! My personal philosophy is to be truthful, which has its challenges and really relies on words being chosen carefully. Here’s a taste of some dialogue between me and my four year old in recent times – no doubt many parents/ carers (and even teachers) can certainly relate!
Daughter: When will I be killed mum?
Mum: Hmmm…Hopefully you will die peacefully.
No she is not exposed to the news on the television or the radio. There have been no overheard talks in the home of any crimes/incidents. So what has sparked this question?
Disney princesses! Snow White’s evil stepmother wants to kill her. Ursula is killed, in The Little Mermaid. They try to kill the beast in Beauty and the Beast. An attempt is made to kill Elsa in Frozen! The list goes on… as does the search for understanding the ways of the world.
Daughter: Why are Cinderella’s stepsisters so mean? Her stepmother is mean too. That is not nice.
Mum: It isn’t nice. There are people that are not nice. People can be mean sometimes. What is important is to know what to do if that happens to you. (The conversation continued…)
Parents really are such important teachers to children; and sharing their entry into understanding the world is both wonderful and potentially overwhelming.
Daughter: Why does Mr Tod (fox) want to catch Peter Rabbit all the time?
Mum: Because he wants to eat him.
Mum: Just like you need to eat, foxes need to eat something too; and they like eating rabbits.
A child asking questions is a wonderful way for them to learn. My only rule is that I tell the truth, and in the simplest way possible. If I don’t know the answer to something; I tell them I don’t know; and actively seek to find out the answer (if circumstances allow; with them witnessing how I came to the answer).
As important is giving attention to what my children ask; listening to them; and responding. Yes it takes patience. Isn’t that part of parenting? Don’t answer that question!
This blog post was published in Shire’s Children Magazine (Summer Issue 2015) www.shireschildren.com.au