We all have those awkward moments in public or private when young enquiring minds do just that , they enquire and they seek information, however the subject matter or the phrasing of the question can be simply direct and highly embarrassing.
Embarrassing to us as parents or should I say awkward, let me give you an example that happened the other day, I was sat in the front room with my girlfriend and we were watching a recording of ‘Four In A Bed’ (For those who haven’t seen this it is a competition based programme where four sets of B&B owners visit each other’s establishments, rate them and pass comments to find the best value B&B). My five year old was showing some interest asking a few general questions, then as they were looking at bathrooms he asked … …” What’s a pube?”
Now my girlfriend had been answering some of his questions and she looked at me awkwardly and I looked at him and just said, “it is body hair …” The reply came back “ Oh “ and he went back to what he was doing, and I sighed with relief …awkward moment dealt with.
The point is, I remembered a similar situation watching TV as a child with my mum and a room full of teenage cousins, which led to an embarrassing few minutes for her and amusement for others present. So these awkward moments come to us all, so how do we deal with them?
As a parent, the way we react to the question dictates how a child perceives the subject. If we get flustered then they have found a trigger. Try to stay calm as if you’re talking about the weather and it’s not an issue. So here is my way of dealing with it.
- Take a breath, and be calm, they are looking for information not to upset you.
- Do NOT lie, misinformation is bad news to your child – someone might correct them later and the way they see you will change if this happens…BE HONEST even If it’s awkward.
- Explain in their language and appropriate to their age, “It is body hair” is fine for a 5 year old, but a 9 or 10 year old “It is body hair that you get as you get older” may be more appropriate.
- Too much information will confuse. Remember the KISS rule applies – Keep It Simple Stupid/Silly. If a child wants to know more they will ask.
But most of all anticipate and plan, it can be a chat with your partner or just a bit of reflection on terms and things you and your child may get exposed to, and think what would I do If …..
How many times have you been in a situation and when you think about it afterwards you come up with lots of things you should or could have done? Reflecting on how you might deal with things is a great planning tool. What would I do If…? Also think about how adults and people around you dealt with situations when you were a child and how did you feel. You may never need it, but it helps to be prepared.
Here are a couple of ideas, all I have seen or heard happen…
In a male changing room from a 3 year old, daddy why is that man so fat?
In middle of a crowded supermarket … from a 5 year old “Why has that man only got one leg?”
But remember a golden rule in planning, as the SBS has in their operations manual…
“No plan survives the first contact with the enemy.”
What you might think you say may not happen but at least you have thought about it, if you have a funny moment or embarrassing one, please share. In retrospect, these are some of the moments we look back on as parents and smile about.
Also as a final note these interactions when they are young will set the tone for how approachable they see you when they have to deal with bigger personal issues in life, if you can be open and honest when they are 3, 5, 9 or 13 it makes it easier when they are 16, 19 or 35!!
Hope to hear from you, and till next time… enjoy the parenting roller-coaster