Create the family you want to have

How to answer tough questions from your kids

The sex talk!  Did you ever try drugs?  How old were you when you first….?

We all dread these questions as parents but we all get them.  So, what to do?  Let me give you the quick 4 step system that I use to help navigate those sticky questions with my children and that I teach to the parents of my clients.

1.  Think through what you would want to say to your child about any things you did that you are not proud of.  Think past denial, denial- your kids know you aren’t perfect and when you lie to them you look bad and they trust you less.

2. Think about the developmental age of your child (this may be different from their chronological age).

3.  Make sure you know what the question is!  How many times have parents had a child ask where babies come from, then launched into a whole developmentally appropriate conversation about where babies come from, only to have their toddler then say they just were wondering if you got babies from the hospital or whether the stork brings them?

4.  Once you have determined the questions, answer only the question your child asked.  See my second step for part of why you want to do this, but another reason why is that with sticky questions, your child may not want to really know all of the answers.  They may ask if you ever tried drugs but they are not ready for a whole conversation about who, what, where, when and why…A simple- I did try them in college but I don’t do them anymore and hope you don’t either- will suffice, unless they ask for more and you are ready to give them more.

As you can see, I am an advocate for honesty.  Children are like little bs detectors.  Their little antennae go up when you lie (just like yours do when they lie to you).  I advocate matter-of-fact honesty with kids.  They will appreciate you for it and will listen more to the part of what you say when you say- I did that, I tried that and I’m so glad I don’t do it anymore.  Or, I never did that, I never tried that and I’m so glad I didn’t.  Be sure to watch your tone- you don’t want to glorify the behaviors or demonize them either.  In many cases your child may be gearing up to tell you something they or a friend have done, or witnessed and by telling a child all the evils, you shut down the next, most important conversation- what if I…?  You know the conversation where you tell them about how to stay safe, and how even if you were disappointed in their choices you would still love them.

Please stay tuned for more parenting tips.  To find out more about me, or my practice please visit my practice website:

March 29, 2012 - Posted by | help for parents | , , , , , , , ,


  1. I have always been honest with my child and step-children (appropriately of course). It’s hard getting the tough questions lobbed at you, but satisfying when they can walk away with an answer that you know will increase their own knowledge.

    Comment by Karaboo | March 29, 2012 | Reply

  2. […] How to answer tough questions from your kids ( […]

    Pingback by Chronological Age vs. Developmental Age | help4yourfamily | April 13, 2012 | Reply

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