Principle 5: Accurate and explicit messages are best

There is an old joke about the child who is looking around the parent’s bedroom with a curious but doubtful look on his face. The puzzled father asks, “What are you looking for?”

“The shovel,” replies the son.

“What shovel?” asks the father.

“The shovel you use when you have sex.”

“Come again?” asks the father.

“You told me that having sex is when you plant the sperm inside mother’s body, and you plant things with a shovel, so where’s the shovel?” replied the boy.

Accurate messages are always best. Being straightforward tells children you care about them, that you respect their questions, and that you are a trustworthy source of truth. Being explicit does not mean being graphic or crude. It means that you give direct, truthful answers in an age-appropriate way. As we move through the ages in this book, we will give numerous examples of how to give such appropriate messages.