Many young children will start to wonder about and question where they came from, sometimes triggered by meeting new friends at school or learning that new little siblings will be coming into the family, while other children may have hardly any interest in the topic. Whatever your child’s level of curiosity may be, it’s helpful to think about what your answer will be in advance so that you’re not thrown whenever the question is asked.
- Be honest with children. Explain things as simply as possible but always truthfully. Give them just enough age and developmentally appropriate information. Over time you can add more detail.
- Try telling younger children that an egg and seed make friends and then it grows into a baby. They don’t have to know just yet how this actually happens. Sex discussions can come a little later.
- Tell children that the baby is connected to Mum inside and when ready to come into the world, the doctors help the baby to be born .
- Remember that families are diverse. Children are created in many ways. Explore this with your child. Don’t presume that all of your child’s classmates are all children of two biological parents. Some children will have same sex parents.
- Your child may be adopted and may not know whose egg or seed they came from, but you can tell them that they have parents who love them and feel very lucky that some other person was able to share their child with them.
- Explain to children that sometimes Mums and Dads don’t have eggs or seeds themselves so they have to be received from a kind person.
- Talk with children about relationships. Explain that babies are usually made when two people care about each other a lot and want to have a special person. Explain also that sometimes only one parent is ready when this actually happens which is why some families are one-parent families. Sometimes a Mum and Dad might not live in the same house. Assure your child they are loved and wanted and special.
- Use books to support your conversations with children. There are books for all ages to help explain all issues in life from making babies to death. Check out your local library and book shop.
- Children often wish for more siblings. Maybe you have chosen not to have more children. Children grow out of this and really they long for more relationships, not necessarily siblings.
- Grow things with your child, such as flower seeds. This helps them to understand that everything comes from somewhere. There is a process to everything that grows, just as there is to making babies.
This article is part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips, and is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly. Coming soon: 10 Ways to Make the Most of Halloween and 10 Ways to Encourage Toddlers and Young Children to Eat.
One Family offers specialist support in explaining about an absent parent to a child. For support and advice on this or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent mentoring service here.
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