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Answering Kids' Toughest Questions

Early on in parenthood, our jobs are clear: We protect, we provide, we cuddle, we change diapers, and we subconsciously coax our runts to inherit our inherited appreciation of Mr. Marvin Gaye. But soon—namely, the minute they learn to string together a sentence punctuated by a question mark—the job changes. We're expected to become encyclopedia, philosopher, or Dr. Ruth at any given moment. They ask, and they ask, and they ask.

Just in the last week, my 9-year-old twin boys have asked me questions I could answer with a few sentences ("Why does the offensive line tackle the defensive line?"). They've asked me questions I could answer with one word ("Do women get paid to take their clothes off in movies?"). They've asked me questions that made me laugh, squirm, and retreat all at the same time ("Is poh-jine-uh a bad word?").

That's the thing about kids. They don't want us to lie, to stall, to evade, to ignore—and they come to us, expecting us to tell them that the proper pronunciation is indeed vuh-jine-uh. It's just that we're not quite sure how to bridge their expectations with our instinct to be a bit coy when delicate issues arise. Here, a guide to helping you navigate some of their trickiest inquiries.