Children are naturally curious, so it can be difficult for them to accept that sometimes, the answer to one of their questions is “I don’t know.” These five tips will help you patiently explain to your children that no, you don’t have any idea where babies come from.
Make it clear that just because reproduction is something that happens to adults doesn’t mean you understand it at all
One way to help your children understand this concept is through an analogy. You could say something like, “Some grown-ups know how to build rockets, but Mommy and Daddy don’t, because they’re not rocket scientists. It’s the same with where babies come from—that’s just not something Mommy and Daddy are able to figure out.” Let them know, as gently as you can, that everyone can’t be an expert in everything, and there’s nothing wrong with not understanding what babies are and how they come to be.
Tell them the story of how they appeared in your life mysteriously and totally unprompted
Kids respond well to stories, especially stories about themselves, so it’s a great idea to center your child in the narrative when you describe your confusion about where babies come from. Help them understand your experience by telling them, “I’ll never forget the day I saw you sitting there in your car seat for the first time and thought to myself, ‘Who the hell is that, and how did he get here?” Let them know about all the exciting questions that rushed through your head when they came into your life, like why they were so small and wet, and what their purpose was in general. This will help your child grasp that you were just as bewildered as they are on the topic of babies.
Use visual aids and metaphors to explain how babies sort of pop up out of nowhere
There is no shortage of figurative comparisons you can use to teach your child about where babies come from: For example, you might say babies “explode into your life like a firework in the sky—they’re beautiful, but there’s no way to tell exactly where they originated.” Or, you could explain that babies are like buried treasure, which you had no clue existed until you happened upon it, and even then you didn’t know who put it there or why. These metaphors will give your kid a sense of how much exactly you know about where babies come from, and also remind them that you love them despite their confusing, mysterious origins,
Assure them that you are trying your hardest to figure out where babies come from
Your child may get frustrated at your less-than-complete answers about where babies come from, so it’s important to remind them that you’re trying as hard as you can to learn about the topic. Make sure they’re aware of the time you’ve spent at the library poring over reference book after reference book to no avail, and even all the instances when you’ve begged your own parents to explain where babies come from, only to find out they don’t know either. As long as your kid understands that you are making a good faith effort to figure out whether babies get issued by the U.S. government and delivered in the mail, or whether the appearance of a baby is more of a spell-cast-by-a-witch type of thing, they will feel satisfied by what you are able to tell them.
Let them know that there are some big life questions that are never meant to be answered
It’s important to prepare your child for the possibility that they may never find out where babies come from, even after they have babies themselves. Remind them that we don’t know how cars work, but they still get us from point A to point B, and we don’t know what cows are, but we kill them and eat them nonetheless—so the fact that we don’t know exactly how babies get here or why they exist doesn’t make them any less cute and lovable. All that information may be a lot to take in for a young child, so when you’re done, make sure to give your kid a big hug and assure them that wherever they came from, it was clearly someplace awesome.