Answering Our Kids’ Questions Honestly....an audience favorite from a recent talk.
A couple of weeks ago, I had an incredible experience where I got to speak to about 60 business leaders from Kenya. My favorite part was the Q&A where they not only asked questions but ended up sharing their favorite parts of the book.
One of their favorite parts was when I share how Holly and I learned from a mentor to 'always be the source of truth for your kids'.
Basically, if they ask a question - give them the answer. Don't sugarcoat. Don't deflect. Don't change the subject.
Once we avoid giving them the honest question, then they will no longer come to us, but instead will go to Google or friends.
These Kenyan leaders shared great stories of how they have already started to implement this idea in their own life. They also mentioned vulnerability was not typical for men in their culture, so it is great to hear these leaders are making changes for good!
Below is the excerpt from my book, 'Win at Home First', that sparked this discussion. Hopefully, you find it helpful as well!
SOURCE OF TRUTH
Answering Our Kids’ Questions Honestly
Holly and I heard somebody say we need to tell our kids the truth when it comes to their questions; otherwise they will no longer come to us with them. They will ask their friends or just Google it—especially if we as parents scold them for asking difficult or uncomfortable questions.
Knowing what to do is often easier than doing it. Such was certainly the case the night my daughter learned about the birds and bees and a few other life lessons.
Holly and I always thought three kids was the right number for our family. We both came from families of three kids, so it just felt right for us. Our third child, Kaleb, had just turned five months old, so we felt we were in the clear for me to go ahead and get a vasectomy.
I scheduled the vasectomy to happen in December, so it would qualify in that year’s health insurance. Unfortunately, I received a call from the doctor’s office saying the doctor decided to go on a vacation, so they were going to reschedule the appointment for a few weeks later, in January.
Now my December appointment was being pushed into the next year, so our strategy of saving on medical benefits was lost. When I got home, I walked right into the kitchen and, not thinking about who was within earshot, I said, “Hon, I am so bummed because they rescheduled my surgery!”
Before I knew it, Kiley, our oldest who was seven at the time, came running into the kitchen, “Dad! Dad! What surgery do you have to have? Are you OK?” I didn’t want Kiley to worry, and
Holly and I made eye contact in a way that I knew she agreed we should tell her.
“Well,” I said, “Dad is having a surgery called a vasectomy, so Mom and I can’t have any more kids. Mom and I are very blessed and grateful to have three kids, but we don’t believe we are being called to have anymore.”
Kiley replied, “Well, Dad, what do you have to do with making babies?”
I did not see that question coming, but I wanted to honor our honesty value. So I explained how the male body part goes inside the female, and then the male part releases sperm into the female body, which is how the baby is made.
I told her the doctor will cut these things, like wires in my body, so the sperm does not re-lease, thus Mom and I can no longer make babies. I got through that part and was feeling a sense of relief, thinking I was done, and the conversation was over.
Not so fast.
Kiley connected the dots on that idea to another question bouncing around in her head. “Well, then how will Cassidee and Ashley have a baby since they don’t have a penis?”
Cassidee, my sister, is a lesbian and is married to Ashley. We had discussed the lesbian topic in our house, but never about how they would have children.
Still wanting to continue the idea of always speaking the truth, I said, “Well, you are correct, lesbians are not designed to have children naturally. So there are a few ways for homosexuals to have kids, one of which is adoption.”
Now the questions were nonstop. “What is adoption?” she said.
“Adoption is when a woman gets pregnant and doesn’t want to keep the baby, so she puts it up for adoption. Then someone else can adopt the child.”
I don’t know if she was satisfied with that answer or not, but she was already moving on to the next question in her head. “So is that what Abee’s friend will do?” she asked.
Say what? I thought.
Abee is our niece, who was a freshman in high school at the time. What was going on with her?
This conversation was moving way too fast! I still had my sport coat hanging over my shoulder because I had just walked in the door. As I was trying to navigate this conversation, I looked over Kiley’s head and saw in the background Holly pacing back and forth holding Kaleb on her chest, and she was biting her lip, doing the best she could not to laugh out loud.
“So what is going on with Abee?” I asked. Kiley shared that when she was with Abee recently, Abee saw on Facebook a friend of hers from high school was pregnant and planning to give the baby up for adoption.
“Yes, if Abee’s friend gives her baby up for adoption, then couples like Cassidee and Ashley can adopt. Does that make sense?’
“Yes,” Kiley said, “I think that is enough for now,” she walked out.
Holly and I just stared at each other: What just happened?! What we thought was going to be a quick conversation about a vasectomy turned into a conversation covering the birds and bees, homosexuality, high school pregnancy, and adoption.
The very next morning I took the kids to school, and that day we were also taking the eighth-grade neighbor girl. As we are driving to school, I see our neighbor has a very thick book on her lap. I ask her what the book is, and she says it is about the Holocaust. Inquisitive Kiley asks, “What’s the Holocaust?” and our neighbor gives a great, brief description of the Holocaust.
From the back of the minivan, Kiley looks in the rearview mirror, so she and I are making eye contact, and then says, “Well, Dad, I have learned a lot these last two days.” I started tearing up right then and gave a quick laugh of relief, “Yes you have, babe.”
Did Holly and I do that perfectly? No. Should we have waited or done it differently? Maybe. Yet we are so grateful we did it on the spot because not only have we had some great laughs since then about that conversation but also because Kiley knows we are a source of truth for her. She knows she can bring questions to us. I am blown away and humbled by the conversations we have and the issues and topics she shares with us.
There are numerous benefits to being a source of truth for your kids. You control the answer they get and how it is communicated, and you can respond to any follow-up questions they have. You also understand what they are processing and going through as kids or young adults. I also love that we can add parental wisdom if needed, as well as support it with biblical truth or have them think about it with a God filter.
I know other parents who have the same idea of always speaking the truth. My cousin has what they call the “safe couch,” where his boys can talk to them about anything and they are “safe” from getting in trouble.
Thanks for reading, supporting, and passing along to others!
Do you need a speaker for an upcoming meeting?