Today we went and picked out a foster dog from our local Humane Society. The kids have been asking for one but I’ve been to busy with kids and travels to consent. So my answer has always been, “We’ll get one when the youngest is 8.” Then I had another baby. And another and another. NOT on purpose of course but it has been convenient!
Basically, I’ve put off our getting a dog for almost two decades.
But my youngest is soon to be 9 and they kept bringing up the topic.
When we went to pick her up I asked if she was neutered and the kids later asked me, “What does that mean?”
And do you know what? I truly had no words for a definition. For a second the image of a dog furiously humping on someone’s leg came to mind and I thought, “I can’t say that.” I’ve heard stories of dogs in heat and howling all night and jumping out of windows to go “get some” but again I thought “I can’t say that!”
So I had no words except, “I don’t know how to explain it.” My children’s faces were in shock! The professional speaker who reads a book a week and explains math, grammar (or whatever topic) ad nauseum couldn’t explain this?!
But I truly had no explanation.
What about other questions that our children ask and we have no answer for them? Maybe it’s because they are too young to understand. Maybe you DON’T want to answer because the answer is too complicated and when you finish with your eloquent synopsis they are just going to follow up with “Can I have a cookie?” Or maybe you really don’t have the answer.
In either case here are some great phrases to stall for time:
- A. “Hmmm, I don’t know how to explain it. Let’s look it up.”
- B. “Good question, I need to think about how to answer that. Ask me again tomorrow. Want a cookie?”
- C. “That’s interesting, why do you ask?”
- D. “That’s a great question! What are your thoughts?” Followed by either A, B, or C and then “Want a cookie?”
When you are ready to address the question just come back with, “By the way I was thinking about the question that you asked me. Do you still want an answer?” Some children will and some will not, but in either case you’ve respect for your child by returning to the subject.
BTW, the question, “Want a cookie?” is a great question to follow up with any kid of any age!
Have you had any difficult questions from your children lately? How did you handle it? Leave a comment below