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Facts of Life

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How might a parent field questions about pregnancy from a young child?

Q: I'm pregnant with our second child, which has raised all sorts of questions for our daughter, who just turned 5. Her questions include, "How did the baby get in your tummy?" and "How does it get out?" I think too much information is not good for kids this age, but what's appropriate? Is it OK to tell her things consistent with our very conservative values?

It is absolutely right and proper for you to make your family's values clear to your daughter. These days, when people talk about bonding, they're referring to an emotional bond between parent and a young child. But the importance of bonding doesn't end there. That primary attachment is prerequisite to a child looking "up" to and bonding with his or her parents' value system, their definitions of right versus wrong.

Very few parenting professionals talk about this "second level" bond, but it's vital to the child's developing a sense of family loyalty as well as the child's successful socialization (assuming the parents' values are in fact pro-social).

As for specific answers to her questions, I agree that too much information is not only unnecessary, but can also be confusing, even anxiety-arousing for a child this age. Keep your answers simple and basic. For example, in answer to her question about the baby in your tummy, you can say, "A man and a woman get married and they love each other and their love makes a baby." That's about as deep as you need to get with a 5-year-old.

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