Children are naturally curious, so there will come a time when your child wants to know: ”Where do babies come from?” It can come from nowhere. Maybe your friend just had a baby, maybe one of their friends is getting a sibling, or maybe they are getting one—regardless of how the question is planted in your child’s mind, it’s a very important thing to address.
An important thing to remember while coming up with your answer is that your discomfort is not your child’s discomfort. Embarrassment, and even shame, with talking about body parts or sex is learned. Your child is asking you something he or she doesn’t know, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of!
Also remember that it’s okay to take a few minutes to compose yourself before you answer them—that’s much better than blurting something out or simply feeding them a fairytale. Here are a few things to consider when you’re forming your answer.
You Can Pace Yourself
If the question comes out of the blue—or even if it doesn’t—you are under no obligation to answer everything all at once. You can pace yourself in explaining these things to them, and you shouldn’t be afraid of telling them you need more time to consider their question.
If you’ve spent some time thinking about it, and you still aren’t sure how to explain it to them correctly, do some research! You can find success (and failure) stories from other moms either online or in your own circle of friends and family. Not to mention, there are tons of books out there that were written for this exact purpose. It could be very beneficial to your child to having something they can refer back to, something that speaks to them on their level, and explains things fully and accurately.
Answer Their Question
This one seems obvious, right? It can be incredibly tempting, especially when you’re caught off guard, to skirt the question if you don’t feel ready to answer yet. Before getting overwhelmed, though, really listen closely to their question and think about what answer they’re looking for. For example, your three-year-old asking “where do babies come from” might really wonder how a baby gets out of their mom’s tummy. Your six-year-old, on the other hand, might really be wondering how babies are actually made.
You know your child better than anyone in the world—really listen to what they want to know, so you can answer their question directly, and in an age-appropriate way.
Context is Key
Pregnancy involves a lot of scary, messy, often graphic things. Try your best, while answering their question directly, to avoid anything that might scare them or make them worry about you if you’re pregnant. For example, explaining a c-section can be a minefield of things that would sound very scary to a young child.
You can, and should, however, be honest about how things work. You can explain to them what a uterus is, how it’s different from a stomach, how long the baby will be in there, how it gets out, etc. Again, you know your child, so choose your words accordingly.
Another good rule of thumb when considering your answer is to take into account what your child already knows. Chatting casually about the subject opens up the conversation and makes them feel involved, and it also establishes what you do and don’t have to explain. Use vocabulary that your child already understands, too—the simpler your response, the more completely you’ll answer their question.
Honesty is the Best Policy
This conversation can be uncomfortable, especially if you weren’t expecting it—but avoiding the conversation or lying in your answer will only tell your child that something is wrong with their question. They might feel embarrassed or ashamed for asking, but they shouldn’t. They should feel comfortable coming to you for just about anything!
Even still, your comfort and your feelings are just as valid as theirs. Remaining honest is the best way to ensure that your discomfort doesn’t alter your response. Telling the (age-appropriate) truth and avoiding fairytales with your child is the best way to make sure they develop a healthy relationship with their bodies, pregnancy, and sex.
Looking for more maternity tips? Contact RMC today.