It’s important for children to feel OK about coming to their parents for reliable information. So when Reddit user u/sprinkle862910‘s son asked her where do babies really come from, she gave him an honest, age-appropriate answer. Or so she thought.
After the woman told her boyfriend about the conversation she had with her boy, the man immediately gave her the cold shoulder, saying the way she handled the situation was “weird.”
Lost and confused, u/sprinkle862910 turned to the subreddit Am I The A**hole, asking other people to share their thoughts on her parenting style. Here’s what she wrote.
Image credits: Halfpoint (not the actual photo)
According to Robin Elise Weiss, Ph.D., MPH, and adjunct assistant professor at the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Informational Sciences, it’s natural for a child to be curious. So if they ask you “Where do babies come from” and you are caught off guard, take a few minutes to compose yourself. You don’t have to answer immediately. Make a cup of tea and find a place where you and your child can sit comfortably without making it a big deal.
“Start the conversation by establishing your child’s baseline comprehension of where babies come from before launching into a discussion,” Ron Elise Weiss wrote in Verywell Family. “Ask a few questions to determine your child’s level of understanding and what they may think pregnancy is all about. Chatting casually gives you an idea of which words to use and how to employ your child’s understanding to fill in the blanks cohesively.”
For example, the professor said you can explain that a baby grows from sperm and an egg in the way fruit grows from a seed. “At this age, it can be helpful and fun to explain how the baby in your belly is doing all the things babies do once they are born: eating, sleeping, and even sucking their thumb. Younger children may need reassurance the baby is safe and comfortable in the womb.”
Use short, direct answers and choose your words carefully. Children’s understanding of the world is different at different ages and stages of development. When talking, always try to use vocabulary that relates to words and concepts the child already uses and understands.
The phrases that worked for u/sprinkle862910 may not work for you. “Always keep your child’s age and maturity level in mind when relaying information about where babies come from. Using the wrong words or phrases can sometimes scare children. If you are asked, for instance, how the baby came out and explain a cesarean section with the words ‘cut out,’ it’s possible that your child will be alarmed,” Robin Elise Weiss explained.
At the end of the day, honesty is the best policy. It’s natural to find these conversations awkward or uncomfortable, the professor said, but they definitely aren’t inappropriate, and parents should not avoid these talks just because they’re difficult.