They Ask, But Should You Answer? Tackling the Tough Questions With Kids


“When di pickney dem growed.” This was my grandmother’s (rest her soul) response to being asked if children should be told about something heavy happening in the family. Translation: “When they get older.” She was a firm believer that you loved and cherished children, but they were in no way “lickle adults.” She set the tone in our family that kids were only informed about serious subjects when she thought they were ready. Death? Between 10 and 11 years old. Uncle Grenville’s male roommate being more than just a roommate? Thirteen. And I’m still waiting for the sex talk.

This was the conundrum I found myself in—how to broach serious topics with my daughter—until a set of situations made the decision for me.

It was a beautiful day. My daughter and I were getting along amazingly. We were both dressed fly; bills were paid and there was extra money in my pocket. I was really feeling my Huxtable. A homeless person approached us with heartbreaking humility and asked for some money. I gave her some and we continued walking.

“Daddy? Why did that woman ask us for money?”

“She was homeless.”

“What does that mean?”

“She does not have a home to live in, or money to get what she needs?”

“Why is she homeless? Does she not have family to love her? Can she come and live with us?

I was stuck as to how I should answer, but my grandmother’s voice in my head told me, “Bwoy, she nuh ready. When di lickle pickney growed…”

On our way home, it took a lot of effort to not listen to my grandmother’s voice attempting to persuade me not to engage my daughter around something so serious. Hell, I thought. If she’s old enough to ask, she’s old enough to receive an answer…

Read the rest of Shawn Taylor’s [Father/Hood] post, “When Do Kids Need To Know,” on

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