I often hear parents tell their kids, “We’ll talk about it later” or “I’ll tell you when you are older.” How unfortunate for those kids. If a child is wise enough to notice something and ask for a situation to be explained then go ahead. You can certainly shape the details to make them more suitable to their age level but dismissing something is nearly as bad as lying to them. Children can pick up on deceit quicker than you think. In fact most kids learn to lie before they can count. So isn’t it better to set a good example even at a young age?
I would suggest telling them the facts right away. And don’t wait until they ask. If you see something on TV that displeases you, don’t turn the channel and forbid them from watching. It only mystifies their mind and allows them to make up their own stories. Their stories based on little experience could be far worse than any revelation you may bring to them. This also gives you a chance to influence their thoughts and explain your understanding. It’s a part of sharing values and opening their mind to decision making. Maybe they don’t agree with you but at least you have the chance to hear both sides of the situation.
For me I was ruined a bit early in life with the truth about Santa Clause and the Tooth fairy. While it wasn’t life shattering news it certainly could have been handled better than my older brother using the information to make me cry. But what came of it was that I didn’t have this misinformation. I wasn’t told where babies actually came from until I was in 3rd grade. Before that I was just blissfully ignorant. But this ignorance gets shared between kids and soon they think you can’t get pregnant in a hot tub.
Some people may say that they don’t want to expose their kids to something before they are ready. And I am saying. They are already being exposed, if you let them watch TV or movies or if they go to public schools. It is better for you to be there to answer their questions then let them make up their own mind based on incomplete details.
We as parent need to be role models by telling the truth we are removing the shame we may have with a subject and showing kids how to face up to something uncomfortable in an honest way. And when we are all being honest we are setting the example we want for our kids. And in turn they will be honest with us when they have questions the next time they come up.