Awkward Questions: The Downside to Inquisitive Kids


The great thing about your children learning to read is that they start reading everything they can get their hands on. That’s also the unfortunate thing, as any parent with inquisitive kids learns eventually.

"Mommy, Daddy: What’s this for?" my (seven-year-old) son asked, all innocence. We were in Target, and my wife and I were chatting with a friend for a minute while the kids waited. We hadn’t stopped near anything too unusual…I’d thought.

"What’s what for, bud?" I asked, turning from my friend to see what my son was looking at. Oh, no. Why the heck did they put that next to the endcap?

"It’s called ‘Yours & Mine,’" he said, and I could see he was about to read more. I quickly glanced at my wife, who was glancing at me. Take evasive action, I said with my eyes, since she was closer to where he was standing. She gently turned him away as I spoke.

"That’s for grownups only," I said, trying to keep my voice even.


"It just is," my wife responded. "You know that some things aren’t for kids, and that’s one of them."

"But I want to know why," he said, whining a little. I sighed inwardly. We keep telling him that it’s good to ask questions, to be curious about things. But there was no way to tell him the truth right then, right there in the middle of Target, even if we’d wanted to. So I did it—I used the phrase I absolutely hate to say to my kids.

"You’ll understand it when you’re older." He’d heard us say that before, and didn’t press the issue any more. We quickly moved away from the endcap in question, and that was that. Thankfully, he hasn’t brought it up again, and of course we’ll take better care in the store from now on.

I’ve written about unusual questions from my kids before, but those were different, because it wasn’t that we didn’t want to answer them, just that we weren’t prepared to do so to kids so young. My kids are seven and (just about) six, and while my wife and I believe in teaching about sex early, that’s too soon for us. And even with the sex talk, I think pleasure-enhancing lubricants really don’t need to be a subject we discuss with the kids. Ever.

So, what are your strategies for avoiding answering the questions you don’t want to answer, whether they’re something you expect to answer when they’re older or something you never, ever want to talk to your children about for the rest of your life?

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