A Summertime Education.
by Leslie Morgan Steiner
Most of us have heard educators’ maxim that kids lose one to three months of academic learning during summer vacation. But in contrast to this “summer learning loss,” moms know another dirty little secret about summer: kids pick up a whole different education during summer, gleaned from new friends at camp, older cousins, those nights around the campfire during your cross country RV trip. Witness the August 23 “Mad Men” episode when Don and Betty Draper’s 10-year-old daughter Sally gets caught masturbating at a girls’ slumber party. The hot topics are as timeless as s’mores: sex, drugs, divorce, alcohol, and what did Tiger Woods do with all those women anyway?
So today’s topic: how do you answer the tough questions kids come home with at summer’s end?
New York psychologist Dr. Debbie Magids gave smart, no-nonsense advice recently:
+ Be honest
+ Answer with brief, age-appropriate, accurate information
+ Don’t shame your child for being curious
I would add that it is never too early to start answering kids’ tough queries. At age two, they may not understand what you’re saying in response to “where do babies come from,” but YOU are getting good practice answering questions that would make any adult gag. By the time kids can actually understand your words, you’ll be grateful that you’ve developed a high comfort level with these tricky topics.
Here’s a sampling of questions my husband and I have fielded most recently from our kids (ages 13, 11, and 8; both genders).
1. Why were two women and one man talking about having sex together in that movie?
2. Why are you two fighting?
3. Where does the pee come out?
4. What is heroin?
5. Are you ever going to get divorced?
6. Why aren’t you going to have another baby?
7. How much did our house cost to buy?
8. How old do you have to be to start swearing?
You need a Ph.D. in parenting to answer these kinds of questions. Especially when you get asked them in the supermarket aisle or a quiet movie theater. But following Dr. Debbie’s advice, here are the real-life answers I gave -- while my husband blushed crimson and looked to me beseechingly: