Category Archives: Kid Questions

The Secret Language of Our Family a.k.a. Talking About Farts

You know what I’m talking about, Ladymoms and Gentledads. I’m talking about when dad rips one and the kids crack up laughing and mom gives dad the side-eye but cracks a smile anyway. Then a conversation about digestion ensues when the 6-year old asks why farts smell so bad.

It’s the stuff we talk about in our home, when it’s just parent and kid. When we are comfortable educating our children about the wonders of reproduction, what being gay is and why we believe love is love, what being racist is and why we have to leave the room when my 81-year-old grandfather starts talking.

And conversations about why we don’t wipe our boogers in certain places, what cat hairballs are made of, and all manner of bodily function questions, all involving Google or Siri for facts.

Sometimes we talk about not-so-gross stuff. I mean, I do have two girls. So I get the occasional “why do people wear makeup and bras?” or “why do you shave your armpits, Mommy?” type questions.

I don’t know about you, but I love these conversations. I love that my husband and I are the ones answering these questions for them instead of their peers (or, in the case of many of their friends, churches.)

We allow our girls to talk more openly about these things at home, and we specify that home is the best place to discuss these types of things at their age. They seem to get it, and they never hesitate to ask questions.

I know a lot of parents who feel nervous talking about sex with their kids, and while it isn’t my favorite thing to talk about, I think it’s good that we’re teaching them because we know it’s information based on actual facts.

Talk with your kids. About everything, all the time. About how farting works, about skunk stink glands, about their fears, your fears, and current events. Give them the education they need to face a world of loony politicians, angry people and hurting people, heartbreaks and emotional rollercoasters. Arm them with knowledge and they’ll be naturally more curious.

Try it and you’ll love it. You’ll bond over it, I promise you that. And I’m hoping that they’ll be more likely to come to their parents to talk when they’re older. We’re building the foundation now.

How to Deal with Religious Bullying and Spiritual Abuse

My oldest daughter, L, is now in the 3rd grade. Recently she brought home a Chick tract, which a girl in her class brought to give everyone in the 3rd grade. The tract is a “comic” designed to appeal to kids and get their attention, turning the story into the story of how to be “saved by Jesus.” Never mind that the school is allowing the tracts to be passed out to the entire grade (and probably the entire school)! That’s a battle I want to fight. But I digress.

L says this girls bugs her regularly because she knows L doesn’t go to church. It turned into bullying in my view when L asked the girl to stop talking to her about it and the girl refused.

I decided to look up the website on the back of the tract for some background information. I won’t post it here, but let’s just say this girl’s dad is a few fries short of a Happy Meal. His website claims that the “power of Jesus” healed his mental illness and it can “do the same for anyone.” Yikes. Shit just got really real.

My husband and I told L to respond like this: “I’m not interested, so please stop talking to me about it.” And if the girl refuses, we’ll take further action. We were clear with L that she should not respond hatefully, nor should she tell the girl that she’s wrong or try to engage in any kind of argument with her. As we often tell her, you can’t argue with stupid. Probably not the nicest way to put it, but just look up a religious Facebook or YouTube comments argument and you’ll understand.

Anyway, it’s been about 2 months since the last time L came home saying that this girl was bothering her, so it sounds like the kid got the point.

The moral of the story? Respond firmly, but kindly. It’s not this little girl’s fault that her dad is pressuring her to bully. But, I hope L can help her understand it’s not ok to do so.

Two posts in one day…I must be coming down with something…*cough*…

Bee

Guest Post on Parents Beyond Belief

I am honored to be a guest blogger on Parents Beyond Belief! Check out my post, Death and Secular Parenting: Overcoming the Fears. Enjoy!

Encouraging Choice

I like to think I’m playing my part in phasing religion out of American life. One of the biggest changes I can see between my parenting style and that of my (divorced) parents is the emphasis on making good choices. I was never encouraged to make good choices. I was never asked to weigh the alternatives and examine the information to decide what course of action to take. I was simply told that the Bible is the end-all and be-all of authority and what is contained in that book is the absolute truth.

Therefore when it came to making choices about having sex, drinking, or pretty much anything, I fled to the Bible to find my answer. This made me a fearful and anxious person. I was constantly afraid of sinning, lest I bring god’s wrath down upon my head. Even though I knew I was saved, I didn’t really feel anything – except fear.

But, I digress. My parents never explained how important choices are in life. They never encouraged me to go to college (How dare I broaden my mind!) and they never encouraged me to make choices because I thought the choice was the right one to make.

Now that I have kids of my own, I find myself asking them questions constantly. When my oldest asks, “Why?” I always ask her, “Well, what do you think?” She spouts off her thoughts and then I explain the whys and why-nots to her. And most importantly, the I-don’t-knows. It seemed like my parents were afraid to say that. “What makes rain?” I would ask. “Rain is just god’s tears,” my mom would say, “and thunder is god bowling.” Yep. There’s nothing wrong with not knowing. Just because the answer isn’t obvious doesn’t mean it needs to be explained by something someone made up.

Ask my 4-year-old what makes thunder and she’ll tell you how lightning cuts through the air, causing it to slap back together to make a loud boom. It’s beautiful, and it helps me feel good about my non-religious parenting. My girls will grow up being able to analyze information and make proper choices, and I will always encourage learning and curiosity in their precious minds. I can only hope that they realize the value of this and pass it on to their children. Maybe someday the real truth – the provable truth – will prevail in our society. Maybe someday the person who believes in the imaginary man in the sky will be the weird one instead of the other way around. We can only hope.

Kid Question: Where is Jesus?

I had it easy as a kid. I was given my answers to all of life’s big questions and was told, “This is the truth. Accept it or be damned to hell.” So, being afraid of living my life burning (but never able to die) in hell, I accepted the “truths” given to me. So if anyone ever asked if I believed in god or if I was going to heaven, I knew exactly how to answer them. I never questioned that Jesus died “just for me” or that he rose from the dead. Therefore, in Oklahoma, I was considered quite normal.

My children will not have it so easy, and I’m ok with that. I must admit, my kids attend a Methodist day school. We enrolled them there because they went to a summer program once and had a great time. They are getting a wonderful education at this school, the hours are perfect for our work schedules, and, as Christian schools go, the kids are not having god shoved down their throats the way they would at other schools. They learn about science, how to explore their world, and how things work. It’s really a very good school. However, it does present a challenge.

We don’t talk about god or Jesus at home because my husband and I don’t believe in god. But my oldest, who is four, is starting to ask questions about what she learns at school. Her first question: “Where is Jesus, Mom?”

Now, since she attends a Christian school, I must choose my words carefully. Can’t have her running to tell her teacher that mommy says Jesus is worm food. I simply said, “Some people think Jesus is in heaven.” To which she replied, “Jesus is a sweet little baby.” And that was the end of that.

It struck me in that moment just how close we are to the age of curiosity about these kinds of things, and I decided I’d better be prepared. I’m figuring out answers to as many questions as I can so I can give her a good response that encourages thinking and curiosity. I don’t want her believing something just because mommy does. That’s the beauty of my life stance.

How would you answer this question if your child asked it? Or how have you answered it?