How to navigate existential preschooler conversations…

Somewhere in the mix of discussions I have with my kids, wedged in between the debate about what show is better to watch (SpongeBob or Woody Woodpecker?) and the rebuttals to dessert choices, my kids pull some existential questions out of thin air that make me feel inadequate as a parent.

existential convos

The most difficult one occurred with my daughter, about where, EXACTLY she was before she was in my tummy.

My first answer was that she wasn’t anywhere, yet.  She hadn’t been created.  She didn’t exist.  In general, this is a pretty hard concept to understand.

If you’ve had this discussion, you KNOW this answer isn’t satisfactory.  She had to be SOMEWHERE, right? So WHERE?

She kept on asking.  Pleading.  Almost to tears.  For, if she wasn’t in me, then obviously, she was being left out.

I stammered.  I looked to my husband for help.  I tried skirting the issue and pushing more watermelon.  Yet, my daughter wouldn’t relent until she knew an exact location of her whereabouts before I carried her around in my abdomen.

To tell her she was just a glimmer of hope, a thought, etc, didn’t suffice.  Those were too vague.  Not specific enough.  She wanted an address, preferably in my body cavity..

So, I caved and gave her some cheap answer like “you were in my heart.”

And wouldn’t you know it, that worked.

Sometimes these complicated conversations can be frustrating, having no firm answer to provide my kids when they ask something I don’t know the answer to.  But sometimes we can mull that complicated question over and over together.  Answering questions with questions, we can create solutions that work for everyone.

The key is giving just enough information to get them thinking for themselves, without imposing your own opinion or bias.

Tricky territory, believe me.  Sometimes that age-old “Well, what to you think?” just doesn’t work.  Because, sometimes, my kids just want an answer that will make them feel loved and secure.

I’m being hit with them a lot lately.  My son has been asking me about what heaven is and what it looks like.  Do they have snacks there?  A pool?  Comfy beds?

Yes, I realize my son had just described heaven as a Westin.  Or some fancy, all-inclusive four-start hotel.

And who knows, perhaps it is?  I don’t have a concrete answer to this one, but it is fun to lie in bed and ponder the accommodations and amenities of the afterlife.  Usually, once my son hears that Mommy and Daddy will be there with him, he’s content.

What’s phenomenal about these conversations is that I get a little glimpse in to how my kids’ brains are working.  What they’re thinking.  How they’re processing their world.

It’s a nice change of pace from some of our other, less pensive conversations: rehashing scenes from the last movie we watched, flushing out who needs to clean up various piles of toys, or rating farts based on longevity and volume.

While I usually feel inept at answering some of these harder questions, it’s in these conversations that I feel like I’m parenting at my hardest, and hopefully my best.  In the midst of these discussions, I try to provide enough guidance so that my kids can come up with their own solutions, but also help steer them towards something that seems like truth.  Or at least, to what I know to be true.

All the while, keeping my fingers crossed that I’m at least half right.

The other day, several months after we’d had the “where was I before I was in your belly” chat, my daughter chirped her “Mommy?” from the backseat.  The one that usually indicates her desire for a snack or a Macklemore song.

Instead I got hit with a statement so adorable I almost had to pull over, weakened by its cuteness.

“Mommy, it was fun to be in your heart before I was in your tummy.”

At least there’s ONE answer I nailed.


  1. I love these type of conversations, though I confess they can leave me baffled too. Especially the heaven ones! I love that your daughter was happy in your heart!! xo
    Kathy Radigan recently posted…Remembering What MattersMy Profile

    • As much as I find myself scrambling during these conversations, I do love them as well. They’re just so innocent and curious.

  2. OMG, that final statement just about melted my heart… Your daughter is obviously a cutie-pie and needs hugging, STAT! So if you haven’t done it already the day you read this reply, stop what you’re doing RIGHT NOW and give her one for me. Heck… even if you HAVE already hugged her, do it again anyway. There can never be too many hugs. And anyone who thinks it was fun being in your heart before your tummy needs lots of good hugs. If I sound overly gooey, it’s only cuz I am.
    Andi-Roo (@theworld4realz) recently posted…Race CampMy Profile

  3. Hi, Neat post. There is a problem with your webwite in web explorer, might
    test this? IE still is the market leader and a huge component to
    other people will leave out your wonderful writing due to this problem.
    Men Nike Blazer Mid recently posted…Men Nike Blazer MidMy Profile



  1. […] a nice warmth to a song about spreading love.  The first time I heard it, I was reminded of a conversation I had with my daughter when she asked where she was before she set up camp in my uterus.  Surely, Suzi Shelton probably […]


Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge