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Answering Kids' Toughest Questions

Q: "Why do you have to make such a big deal of everything?"

A: "Great question, honey."

Maybe you flipped because you didn't approve of her walking around the neighborhood by herself or wanting to create her first Facebook page. And in the grand scheme, your child may be right—it might not be that big of a deal. And that's exactly why you should tell her that it's a very fair question. But then follow up by telling her that at this time in her life, there are a lot of issues that she may not understand when it comes to her safety. "Sometimes parents just have to take the fall for being overprotective," Brush says.

Q: "What's erectile dysfunction?"

A: "This is about the body and how blood runs through the body. Sometimes old age means that the system doesn't work the way it should, and you need medicine to deal with it."

Now that my kids are allowed to stay up a little later on weekends and watch football games with me, we know there's a chance they're going to be exposed to some off-color content—namely, in the form of George Lopez's show and ED commercials. "You better be ready for that question," my wife keeps saying to me.

I am. I'll give the facts. The real reason you need to come clean on these types of uncomfortable questions is because it establishes that you're open to talking about tough topics. "Teenagers and preteens want to go to their parents about sex, drugs, and alcohol—they want to talk to their parents, but they can't," Kazdin says. The reason: We tend to fail to establish open lines early on. "Your explanation about erectile dysfunction isn't needed as much as a genuine response is," Kazdin adds. "Instead of thinking 'Oh hell, honey, I think he has a question for you,' think that it's good that they're coming to you."