Children are as curious as cats. They also have the uncanny ability to shock you by simply being the way they are – inquisitive, outrageous and extremely persistent! Furthermore, they can leave you red-faced, by asking the most awkward questions during the most embarrassing moments.
For example, sample these –
1. Why do women have squishy chests and men have flat chests?
2. Why do you wear nappies, mumma? Aren’t you a grown up?
3. Why do men hide stuff in their swimming trunks?
4. What is sex? Should I whisper the word? Why does everyone whisper it? Is it against the law?
None of these are figments of our imaginations. These are all real questions that kids have asked their unsuspecting parents.
A part of the struggle lies in framing an answer which is appropriate for a four-year-old or 14-year-old, as the case demands. However, a more significant concern is that most parents feel too embarrassed to talk about these things openly. Some parents don’t want to reveal to their kids more than they should know at their ages. Others are embarrassed to talk about these matters because their own parents and elders had always hushed them up. In this manner, the concept of shame is passed down through successive generations.
Let’s face it – as parents, sometimes, we feel like we should simply pretend to be deaf and ignore all the embarrassing awkwardness. But, does that help? It doesn’t. By choosing to ignore our kids’ curiosity, when they ask us something to which we don’t have an answer, we also effectively shut down long-term communication.
Every time we ignore a peculiarly weird question, or react to it with annoyance or anger, we convey the following message to our kids – your voice is not important, I refuse to hear you, and therefore, you are not important. Seen this way, it does indeed seem like a very damaging thing to do – as a parent, a teacher, or a caregiver.
So, how does one explain these awkward and tricky questions? The secret lies in keeping it simple. Do keep it real and try to look at the problem from a child’s perspective – while disregarding your own inhibitions and assumptions about ‘morality’ or ‘propriety’.
For instance, when your kids asks you how babies are made, they may not be curious about the act of sex itself. Perhaps, they are just curious about the ingenious miracle of birth which they notice everywhere. While it is important to lay down the basic facts straight in an ‘age-appropriate’ way, the best way to do this is drawing analogies with nature and stories from the world around us.
Children love stories and the visual medium. So, using books, videos and animals is a great way of connecting with your kid, while simultaneously addressing the questions. We should focus on laying down facts in a calm, easy and non-authoritative manner, so that our kids feel warm and welcome.
After all, in a world which is speedily losing its innocence, our relationship with our kids can majorly protect them. Talking openly and freely lays down a solid foundation for kids to safely explore the world – and yet, return to the comfort of home and family. Therefore, our only choice is to inspire a sense of trust in our kids and encourage them to share what they think, feel and experience, openly with us, without fear of ridicule or rejection.
Furthermore, our kids will be much safer if they try to find answers from us parents, than trying to find them on the internet. Also, they are better-off having their confusions from adults who understand these things, rather than depending on some ridiculous and often-dangerous explanations shared by equally-misinformed peer groups.
We, at Candidly, thought that we need to talk more about this with fellow parents, teachers, uncles and aunts – but not in a way as dry and boring as the post above. In this way, our first digital series, “Awkward 101 – Things Kids Ask”, was born. It’s a three-part series with a light-hearted take on the questions (of intimacy and identity, perhaps) our kids ask and drop on us like an #awkwardbomb!
Recently, we went live with the first two episodes. If you enjoy watching this series, do share with your friends and families. Have your kids asked you a similar, awkward question? Please do share. Let’s end the silence and bury the shame. Let’s defuse these #awkwardbomb!
To know more about all the awkwardness we deal with, visit us here.