Before I became a Mom, I knew I would have to answer some tough questions from my kids. Stuff like, “Why is the sky blue?” or “Where do babies come from?” I was ready for those. However, I had NO idea how many tough questions kids can ask.
I am a full-time stepmom, and fortunate that my 6-year-old stepson finds me the kind of confidant to go to for these questions. To see the story of how our family came together, check out my first article I wrote for Rocket City Mom. In a step family, we get all of the normal questions like “Why is that man’s tummy so big, is he having a baby?” and “Is that person a boy or a girl?” (all actual questions asked in the past three weeks) plus some really interesting step family questions. (Some quick pre-clarifcation: Mommy refers to his birth mother, while he refers to me as La La.) “Why did Daddy decide not to be married to Mommy anymore?” “Did you know me when I was a baby? Why not?” “Did Daddy love Mommy like he loves you?”
Those questions, my friends, are tough. For some reason, I’m the one who always gets asked these super tough questions about times I wasn’t around for, and have only heard about from one side. How do you explain to a 6-year-old about divorce and heart wrenching decisions? It’s really, really hard. And you can’t fully explain. Not to a 6-year-old.[pullquote type=”2″ align=”right”]Fortunately, the only thing we seem to have more of than questions is love.[/pullquote]One day while I was facing a barrage of these questions, I had a flash of inspiration. Really, it all comes down to choice. I had been working with my son on realizing the difference between good choices and bad choices, right and wrong. I explained that people make different choices. Sometimes they make choices that affect others. This explains things like why Daddy gets mad at a certain politician; he makes choices Daddy doesn’t like. Why sometimes kids at school will say or do something mean; they are not making a nice choice. And sometimes, in situations like Daddy and Mommy, those choices have consequences that change people’s lives.
However, my son (like most kids) doesn’t stop with questions. They keep coming. Questions like “Why did Mommy get sick and die?” or another perennial favorite “Why don’t I have a baby brother or sister?” How do I explain those? Unfortunately, the answer is: sometimes life just isn’t fair and bad things happen to good people. But to a 6-year-old, that doesn’t fill the void the question has left behind. I read an article about children and questions written by Dr. Laura, and I really love something she said:
In each situation, you must fill the vacuum of the child’s lack of understanding with something that makes sense – or they will fill it with ideas that are far more destructive than the truth. Always be reassuring that they are loved, will be taken care of, and that because something happens to someone they love, it doesn’t mean it will happen to them.
Fortunately, the only thing we seem to have more of than questions is love. We are fortunate to be surrounded on all sides by loving family, three sets of caring grandparents, supportive friends and co-workers. We’ve made sure to explain to him that just because Mommy’s body got sick and stopped working, it doesn’t mean that his will. And just because he doesn’t have a baby brother or sister, it doesn’t mean he’s alone. And even though he didn’t “come from my tummy” he’s still my baby.
I know in the future the questions will keep coming, and our answers will have to get more and more detailed. Until then my husband and I strive to maintain a loving and supportive environment where he feels comfortable to ask these questions and when the answer is hard, is able to find reassurance that he and our family are still okay.
Have you ever been asked a question by your child you weren’t sure you knew how to answer?
Lexie Robinson Austin is one of the few born and raised Huntsville natives. She is a stepmom to one, a librarian to many, a reader of books, and baker of cookies. She likes ridiculously impractical shoes and the color pink.