Parenting Cheat Codes: Answers to the Unanswerable

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Image Credit: N Engineer
Image Credit: N Engineer

Where readers pose to GeekDad/GeekMom the questions their kids have asked (and are sure to ask again) that they were unable to answer.

Sometimes as parents we coast. We’re in the car, actually on time, reveling in the fact that were managing to adult, thinking that maybe we’ve got a handle on this parenting thing. And then, the minion speaks. And that moment of overconfidence is paid back tenfold as we have no idea how to respond. For those moments, cheat codes would be nice, right? So here we go. I posed my questions to my fellow GeekDads/GeekMoms to see if our collective wisdom can steer you right.

Q1: My five year old daughter asked me “Will my body decompose when I die?” How am I supposed to answer that?

Who’s going around teaching five-year olds about decomposition? Sure, it starts innocently enough, talking about plants, and gardening, and compost. But then you discuss the life cycle of animals, and before you know it, boom!

GeekDad Jamie Greene fielded this one deftly. “I’d be honest. Yes, your body will decompose. All living things do. If the kid is mature enough to use the word decompose, he/she can probably handle the answer. ”

On the other hand, you could use this as a great segway to teach your child the difference between vampires, zombies, and other undead creatures.

Q2: 7yo asks, Is Heaven real?

You’re welcome.

GD Jamie: Some people believe it’s real
GD Shiri: We told [our son] the same thing when his great grandmother died. He had recently seen Book of Life. He decided everyone hung out together somewhere and had a churro party. *shrug* Sounds like a decent after life to me

Q3: 5yo asks, How does the baby get inside the mommy?

GD Shiri: Honesty and science with detail appropriate to age

Try this: When sperm from the daddy combines with an egg from the mommy, they combine into one cell, then double to two, then again to four, then eight, and so on (go ahead and focus her on the math for a while here if you need a break) and eventually grow into a full baby. Feel free to bring out old ultrasound images to show the progression and distract her until you’re ready for followup questions.

Because here’s one that’s not helpful to introduce confusion (unless your child is already well-versed in sarcasm). They can get their fair share of misconception from Dumbo and other cartoons where storks literally drop babies off on doorsteps.

Image Credit: N Engineer
Image Credit: N Engineer

Q4: 5yo asks, How did animals start?

GD Shiri: basics of evolution
GD Jamie: My daughter got the basics of evolution at 4 or five when she asked (she went to a Christian preschool and was asking all the right questions). She got it then.

Q5: Do you have to be married to have a baby?

GD Shiri: No you don’t. It’s much better for the family if the mom and dad love each other, though.

There is, of course, the temptation with all of these to either avoid answering or worrying about dumping too much information on them (and having to field even more uncomfortable questions). Answering exactly what they’re asking, in as few words as possible, tends to satisfy them.

What about you? Any questions your kids have asked that you could use a second opinion on?