Mom’s Journal: Do I Really Have to Answer That?


Some of the most important (and embarrassing) conversations I’ve ever had have begun with the curiosity of my kids. There have been many moments when I have just wanted to disappear but have instead been trapped by the innocent curiosity of my children!

Questions like…

  • “Why does that girl talk so funny all the time?” (referring to our neighbor’s little girl, who is deaf)
  • “How come he has that up his nose?” (watching an elderly man carrying an oxygen tank)
  • “Where are that boy’s legs?” (watching a mother push her son in a wheelchair)

We recently walked into an office building elevator along with a three-foot-tall woman.  My daughter Emma turned to me and loudly asked, “Mommy, why does that lady look like a little kid?” At that moment I was stuck, and there was no way of ignoring my daughter. I wanted to exit the elevator immediately, concerned that I may say the wrong thing with the woman intently listening. I was forced to answer the first thing that came to my mind: “That’s just the way God made her, sweetheart.” The woman could see and hear the anxiety in my voice, but she looked at me, smiling, and said, “Thanks. That’s the best answer you could have given her.” Silently, I prayed, “Thank you, Lord, for getting me out of that one so easily!”

Another time was not so easy. My husband and I took the kids out for a nice Saturday morning breakfast, and while waiting to be seated at the restaurant, a couple sat down on the bench next to us, holding hands and cuddling. Emma looked over and innocently asked, “Mommy, is that a girl or a boy?” She was obviously baffled by the two women together.

“Lord, how do I answer this question that I am not prepared to explain to my five-year-old? Where is this going to lead?”

I stumbled a bit, acting as if I didn’t hear her, but that only made her ask again even louder and more clearly, making things worse. “Um, well, that’s a girl,” I answered quietly, hoping that that would be the end of the conversation. Fortunately, Emma responded, “Oh.” She stopped staring and walked over to join her sisters on the other bench.

I know I could have reacted to this situation in a way that could have marked this event in Emma’s mind forever, but I wasn’t quite sure how to answer. She’s five! Do I explain it all? Do I skirt the issue and scold her, saying, “That’s not polite; don’t stare!”? Or do I simply answer what she asked? I chose to do the latter, and it worked for the moment.  God used this situation to show me that children don’t miss a beat! Fortunately, she mentioned the two women later that night at home, where my husband and I both were able to think through the answer and explain to her that “some people think they love each other, and the only one we really need is Jesus. Everyone needs Jesus just like we do.” She, again, was fine with this much of an answer and didn’t ask again.

This world will unavoidably confront our kids with situations that lead to questions. It is almost impossible to completely shelter them from these times. The Bible says we are to be in this world, yet not of it (John 17). When the opportunity is presented, we can use it as a chance to instill in them the godly values and promises we hold onto. If we don’t answer their questions, they will look for answers wherever they can, and those answers may not be what we know God says

Since we never know when we’re going to be put on the spot, all we can do is our best to be prepared for these awkward situations. The Lord has shown me a few things about being prepared:

  • Always confront the question; ignoring it will only raise curiosity.
  • Answer honestly and appropriately, even if you’re embarrassed by the question.
  • Don’t think you have to go into a detailed explanation; it’s usually simpler than we think.
  • “I’m not sure” or “Let’s see what the Bible says about that” are almost always safe in order to buy some time while you think of a better answer.
  • Pray and ask the Lord (before it happens!) to give you the words to say so you can turn these awkward and embarrassing moments into teaching and learning opportunities for you and your kids.

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