A decade ago, the only uncomfortable conversation parents of teens and pre-teens had to worry about was the inevitable sex talk.
Today, the range of potentially uncomfortable conversations is a minefield. You never really know what random, thought-provoking question your kid is going to throw at you as you pass the broccoli during dinner.
Boogie comes up with some doozies. It's natural for kids to question the world around them and, in turn, question their parents and test their boundaries.
We had the sex talk a long time ago, so I don't have to worry about that one. I occasionally bring up some boy-girl related topic to keep her on her toes and test the waters as to where she is when it comes to boys. As long as I still get an "Oh, gross, Mom, don't say that! Ewwwww!" response from her every time I utter the anatomically appropriate terms for male or female sex organs, I know all is still fairly innocent in her world view. That's a good thing.
It's difficult to embarrass or shock me, especially when it comes to questions asked by kids. If it's a question I have an answer to and something I can explain, I do so without making something up just because I'm uncomfortable with it. Kids armed with accurate information are for more likely to make good, informed decisions than those whose parents make up stuff to avoid talking about difficult topics. Kids who know the truth, the whole truth about how babies are made are far more likely to make wise and educated decisions. I want to be the one doing the informing, not rely on the school or her friends to pass along accurate information.
Our most recent uncomfortable conversation revolved around gay marriage and gay relationships. It has been in the news quite a bit, so I wasn't shocked by the subject matter. Her question wasn't about why some men love men or why some women love women or why they get married. Those are easy, and we've talked about people's choices and relationships in the past. She pretty much has the same viewpoint on it as I do: Each to his own, no harm done. Love is love, end of the story.
Her question revolved around the, ummm, more intimate details of homosexual relationships. How does a parent answer a question about how two women have an intimate relationship without the whole conversation becoming inappropriately pornographic?
These are the tough questions because I don't want to feed my child false information. I don't believe in purposely lying to a kid; it undermines her trust in you and eventually, she stops coming to you for the answers. Not a path I want to start down with an almost teenager.
My super lame answer was simply "Ummm, they do a lot of really close snuggling and kissing in private," because delving into anything more descriptive than that bumped me up to teetering on the edge of my comfort zone. While it may not have been exactly the answer she was looking for, I do believe it satisfied her curiosity enough ... for now. As she gets older, I'm sure she'll figure out these things on her own. What she can't figure out, I hope she comes back to me for more answers and conversations.
I don't know how other parents handle questions like that. My mom never had to answer anything even close to it. As with everything parenting, you never know if you've done the right thing, but you always hope you don't mess them up too badly.
I don't think my answer or my philosophy to tell her the truth as I understand it, is messing her up too badly. But, you never know what will cause them to seek therapy 20 years from now.
New name: Some people noticed last week that my byline changed. No, the BND didn't get it wrong, Schaaf is my new married name and I decided to reflect that recent life change in my byline.