Embarrassing Questions You Wish Your Kids Wouldn’t Ask

Every parent is going to face an embarrassing question they’re not quite ready for. Check out these questions you might hear and smart ways to answer them.

Medically reviewed in November 2021

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There comes a time in every parent’s life when your child asks a question that turns your face completely red. “The content might embarrass you, who it's in front of might embarrass you or what it says about your kid might embarrass you,” says Deborah Gilboa, MD, family physician and parenting expert. “Communication with our kids is good for parents and kids, so we want them to bring us their questions, even the tough ones,” she says. Click through to check out uncomfortable questions you’re bound to hear from your child and smart strategies for answering them.

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“What’s wrong with that man?”

You’re walking down the street and pass a person with a disability and your child loudly asks about it. While reprimanding your child may be your first instinct, Gilboa says to treat your child with empathy. You might say “I understand why you asked, but I don't want to make that person uncomfortable so let's wait.”

If you meet someone you know with a disability—and forgot to prep your child beforehand—it’s fine to ask your friend "Would you like me to answer that or would you?" Then, you might lead the conversation in a way that creates an opening for your friend to talk about his life. “That way we can encourage kids to be curious about people and look beyond labels."

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"Why were you and daddy making so much noise?"

A little alone time might lead to this question, but it’s important to know how to answer it—and it all depends on the developmental age of the asker. Gilboa says that if you’ve discussed sex with your child, it’s important to tell the truth—for instance, “Remember that time when we were talking about intercourse?”  “If you lie it teaches your kids that they can talk to you about anything except sex,” she says.  If they’re not ready for the birds and the bees talk, relate to them on their level. “For a four-year-old that means “Daddy and I were just playing,” says Gilboa.

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“Where do babies come from?”

When your child gets curious about where her baby brother came from, don’t rely on the stork. Again, the key is to answer in a way that’s appropriate to your child’s developmental level. For very young children, that could mean being as literal as “from the hospital.” Gilboa cautions against sharing more information than your child may be ready to understand. “If your child has a follow up question, she’ll ask it,” she says. For an older child who doesn’t know the facts of life, the answer may be "Making a baby is something that two adults do together." “I always advise parents to figure out the one sentence they want their children to remember about this topic right now,” she says.

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“What’s puberty?”

Gilboa recommends giving honest information and then seeing what your child says next. It can also be valuable for you to find out -- in a casual way --  what prompted her to ask. “Maybe it’s something she heard at school,” says Gilboa. “That's the information you need to have a good conversation with your child.” Another tack is to ask your child what she knows about the topic, giving you an opportunity to correct any misinformation or misconceptions.

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"Is it okay if I have a boyfriend?”

“I think the first thing is to be glad your child told you,” says Gilboa.  Say "I'm so glad you wanted to talk to me about this." The next step is to find out what that actually means to your child. “Their names may be linked together by friends or at school, but they may never spend any time alone together,” says Gilboa. “Don’t assume that they skip math class and make out in the supply closet.” Ask open-ended questions so that your child can tell you what they’re hoping for and how they feel about it. “Then you'll know how to guide them in keeping with your own values,” Gilboa says.

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“What’s that?”

Don’t be nervous if your kids ask this around the ages of two or three when they first become aware that boys and girls have different private parts. Gilboa says this question is easy to handle since you can simply explain that private parts are different for boys and girls. “That way it's a judgement-free zone,” she says. Many parents are comfortable providing their children with the proper names. For instance, “You have a vagina. Your brother has a penis.”

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“Why are you so fat?”

This is a question that can strike a nerve in any parent that struggles with weight or any other body issue. What you don’t want to do, says Gilboa, is go into a tail spin and spew about any body image issues you might have. “It’s not a mean-spirited question,” she says. “For biologic moms, they have the advantage of saying this is my body and I'm so glad it's been able to help me have you,” she says. For dads, it’s fine to give a simple answer such as “This is how I look. This is how I am today. It helps me play with you.” Whether or not you want to go beyond that to discuss diet, weight loss or anything else is up to you.

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"How much money do you have?”

Just because your child asks an awkward question doesn’t mean you have to answer it. “One uncomfortable question is ‘How much money do you make?" Dr. Gilboa says. And if you’re not ready to divulge that sensitive information? Money experts suggest that you put your family income in context, explaining how your salary is used to pay for things the family needs. Hearing a number will have little meaning to a child whose idea of “a lot of money” may be a $20 bill. If your children aren’t interested in these details, let it go. And if it comes up again, let them know you may decide to share this information when they’re older and better able to understand what it means.

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