Jun 212013 10 Responses

No Lies/No Slang: How to Raise Healthy Kids that Make Grandparents Uncomfortable

One of our foundational rules for parenting is we tell the truth. No matter the issue, situation, or age of the child, we are honest. We answer the questions which are asked in an age appropriate way. We don’t tell everything we know. But we do not lie.

An aspect of truth-telling is calling body parts by their proper name.

In our house, there are not any “snakes,” “tails,” or “pee pees.” Boys have a penis. It’s what you’ve got and it’s what you call it no matter where you are.

Girls do not have (ok, I’m not listing any slang terms here. I don’t know enough terms and anything listed will just sound weird. And to my friends, “no, I don’t need you to text me possible terms.”). They have a vagina.

There is no need to laugh when using these words. There is nothing to be embarrassed about. It’s life, say what needs to be said and move on.

Of course this absence of slang can lead to some uncomfortable moments.

A few years ago my son was trying to figure out the difference between boys and girls when my 88–year-old grandmother came to visit.

In our open discussion, no lies, no slang house, my son calmly asked in front of everyone, “Does Grandma have a penis?” I calmly said, “no,” as my Missionary Baptist, no lies, no need for slang because we never talk about those type of things grandmother gave me a look of complete indignation.

Yet this was an important question. Having this information might save my son from the embarrassment of a friend of mine. My friend, having had nasal surgery, had some swelling he thought was unusual. He called his doctor and said, “Doc, I think my vulva is swollen.” The doctor calmly replied, “I bet you it’s not.” He then went on to explain the difference between a vulva and a uvula. (Censored: the writer’s uvula/vulva joke has been censored by the editor, aka my wife).

Telling the truth, especially in a preacher’s home, means children will deal with death much earlier than many. “Daddy can’t play because I have to go to a funeral,” brings the topic of death up quite often. Although I think my 5–year-old believes it’s simply an excuse to get out of real work. The other day I ask him to pick up his toys. He left the room, came back with a black jacket on and said, “Sorry, Dad, I can’t pick up my toys because I’ve got a funeral.” 

A few years ago my dog died in a tragic Thanksgiving weekend ham accident. I was intrigued to see how my children would react. I assumed my youngest wouldn’t care, but my oldest would be heartbroken. I was wrong.

Walking home from school, I told my daughter our dog had died but we would get a new one. She shed no tears. With a seeming glee, she spent the next 48 hours telling everyone she met, “My dog died, but we are going to get a new one.” There was such coldness in her words it made me wonder what she might say if something happens to me—”My Dad died, but I’m going to get a new one.”

My son was heartbroken. I thought he was too young at the time to understand, but he understood it all to0 well. After being inconsolable for a few minutes, the wailing subsided and he tried to make sense of it all. In a moment of sincerity he asked, “Dad, is our dog in heaven with Jesus and grandma?”

Of course we don’t tell a lie, so I simply answered, “I’m not sure about grandma.”




10 Responses to No Lies/No Slang: How to Raise Healthy Kids that Make Grandparents Uncomfortable
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