The 8 Toughest Things to Explain to Kids

Love & Learn 34

Being a parent certainly has its moments. All you can hope for is that the good ones outweigh the bad.

Now, when it comes to teaching your kids all sorts of life lessons (fire = bad!), some are easier than others. A quick slap on the wrist and a loud "NO!" will suffice when your 3-year-old tries shoving a fork in the outlet on the wall. But there are a number of tough topics every parent must deal with at some point or other.

Explaining the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus to your youngsters can be fun and easy. It's the really tough topics that parents fear. Here's a look at 8 of the Toughest Things to Explain to Kids.

  1. Death. Hands down, this one's the hardest thing to explain. Heck, you can't even truly explain it to adults. Depending on your child's age, you may really delve into the reality of death, or merely touch upon it with a more cheerful discussion of the afterlife. Word of advice: Taking the kids on a field trip to the local morgue is surprisingly not the best of ideas.
  2. Cancer. The Big C can be tough to explain to kids beyond "so and so is very very sick." There's also the radiation, chemo, and a slew of other tests and medications. Just get across two important points: it's not contagious and laughter is the best medicine.
  3. Being Gay. Back in the '20s, this one was super easy to explain to kids. Everybody loved gay kids because gay meant happy. These days, it has quite a different meaning. Nothing wrong with explaining it to kids (in fact I encourage it), but don't be surprised if you get some laughs or chuckles from the younger crowd when you mention two men (or women) getting married to each other.
  4. Drugs. Last year, my first grader came home from school repeatedly saying, "Say no to drugs!" I praised him for that. And then he said, "Daddy, what's a drug?" So yeah, teaching drug prevention is great, but explaining drugs themselves seems to be something left out of the school programs.
  5. Sex. Whether junior's curious as to why mommy and daddy are "wrestling in bed" or he overheard someone talking about it, sex is a tough one to broach with kids. Thankfully, my two boys still think you only kiss someone when you love them, and then you get a baby in your belly somehow.
  6. Booze. Similar to explaining drugs (alcohol is one, after all), it can be even tougher to explain since it's legal. "Silly juice" seems to be a common phrase amongst parents looking for a way to briefly explain it.
  7. When Daddy's in Jail. Thankfully, I've never had to deal with this one personally! But I can't even fathom explaining to my kids that daddy did something so horrific that he has to go away for a very long time.
  8. Divorce. If you're explaining divorce to your kids because you're going through it, well, that's just rough no matter how you slice it. If you're just explaining it in general, you can hopefully get away with emphasising that the two parents are still a mommy and daddy. They still love their kids tremendously. They just don't like each other anymore. Try to keep the sordid details out of it. No need to mention the 22-year-old secretary in the red stilettos.

Which topics are tough for you to explain to your kids?

Photo via Sam Howzit/Flickr

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court... courtneycatt

Deployment should be on this list.  Trying to explain to a child that their dad has to go protect other people instead of being home and protecting them isn't easy.

nonmember avatar Kristi

I agree. Deployments should be on there too. Toddlers and young children don't understand this.

amand... amandabananda

My Mom's dog died not too long ago.  It was harder for me to explain that to my 2-year old, and she took it just fine.  "He's not going to be a Nanna and Poppa's house anymore honey.  He died and is in heaven, like in the Bible"  She was sad that she wasn't going to see him anymore, but that explanation was good enough for her!

EmmaF... EmmaFromEire

@courtneycatt i never even thought about how difficult that must be. You don't exactly hear stories about irish soldiers being deployed, it's just not a thing that happens here really, so it must be so tough on families that live in a country with very active military service!

I think maybe trying to approach the topics of death and illness are ones that are better off talked about when they're younger. Other things can come later, but death is such a  tough topic that I feel it's easier to gradually introduce it when they're still young.

GypRo... GypRoseLee

It's not sad io tragic but my seven year old granddaughter who drank only water asked me what the water treatment plant was, notice I said did drink water.

ethan... ethans_momma06

Anti Semitism.

I'll take the gay issue, or sex talk over that any day. It's hard to explain to your kid why some people who have never met him, have those feelings toward him.

nonmember avatar Wondra Woman

My favorite was, "Mommy, what's an orgasm?"

April... AprilJune

I recently had to explain to my 2 year old daughter that some people are bad after a man took way too much of an interest at her at a restaurant we were at for lunch. It's hard to explain to a young, innocent 2 year old that there are people in the world who will hurt her without scaring her. When it was confirmed that he did indeed have a history of inapppropriate behaviour with children, I took the trust no one approach and risked scaring her, but I still wonder if that was the right thing.


worms... wormspoop

I've explained numbers 1-6. And 7 kinda, me and my son's father were never married but we split up when son was 2 1/2. I have to say death was the hardest considering it was my son's father who died. I don't believe in god however I did use the whole heaven/god thing, as I found that it gave him some comfort. Even though it's been almost 2 years my son still asks me when or if his daddy is going to get a new body so he can see him, breaks my heart every time.

jalaz77 jalaz77

Death is hard. I don't believe I'm life after death or heaven but like wormspoop said it does make it easier for now.

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