kate sutton


There has been a worrying development at Sutton HQ.


As regular readers will know, Dexter is now ten years old and, overall, a really good boy. He’s polite, well-behaved and good fun to be around. I’d say I was lucky … and I am, but I also like to think I may have had a hand in how lovely he is.


Modest much?


However, there are definite signs that he is in the midst of pre-adolescence. Suffice to say, if he dares to slam his bedroom door once more he will have to get used to living in the shed. Fact.


Thankfully, the one thing he would never dream of doing, at least in front of me, and at least for now, is swear.


I’m well aware he knows most swear words. It’s difficult to completely avoid them and he probably learnt a few of them from me when I’ve suffered from a major case of road rage (no F’s or C’s though, don’t worry) … and I also know some of his school friends say the occasional swear word. The friends I never invite round for tea that is.


He’s at the age where hearing a swear word is not just funny, it’s absolutely hysterical and I totally get that. He’s ten, of course it’s funny, so as long as he knows not to say anything like that to me (or to anyone else for that matter), we’re good.


But one thing has been troubling me, and a good friend of mine.


There are certain words that both of our boys have mentioned recently that have us, as mothers, not only concerned, but a little unsure how to deal with.


The most notable questions were, ‘What does rape mean?’ and ‘What’s a pedo?’


I know right?


As far as they’re concerned, they’re just innocent questions aren’t they? I mean, they have no understanding at all as to quite what they’ve said but inside I’m feeling a mixture of sadness and horror.


With most subjects, I tend to employ the same approach that my Mum did, which is … however cringe worthy and embarrassing you might find it, be honest and upfront about what you tell your kids, and always try to keep a straight face. This tends to relate primarily to any questions about sex … don’t forget, I’ve been doing this parenting lark for nearly 20 years now!


But when it comes to subjects like ‘rape’ and ‘pedophiles’, I know that ten years old is way too young to be told the truth.


I have to wonder where on earth they pick up these words because I still believe Dexter is too young to be subjected to most things in the news, so I always turn it off if he’s around, but no doubt they are terms that kids have picked up along the way and ‘helpfully’ shared in the playground.


I hated doing it but I just explained it was something very horrible but that he was too young to be told what it was. I think he could tell from my face not to push the subject and, no doubt, we’ll end up having the same conversation in a few months time.


But for now, when he gets annoyed, the worst I’ve heard him shout is ‘flip’ and ‘fudge’ … how long that will last, I’m not sure.


Has anyone else had to deal with really awkward questions like this?



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Published by Kate Sutton

Writer, Mother, Dater.

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  1. The 10yo I looked after had these questions. She’d heard it all over the news which her parents let her have on. (I always turned it off to avoid such things!)
    I guess it depends on how much your child already knows as to whether you tell them or not. She already knew about sex, so was just explained that it was sex when you didn’t want it. She was happy with this answer at that point, but probably has more questions now!

  2. Sad that they have to worry about these things at their young age. They really shouldn’t have to – I agree with your approach though. Honest and up front, if they are able to understand and not get seriously scared and worried by it. I think you did the right thing by delaying the conversation a little as well 🙁

  3. The trouble is that they can read at this age, they will see newspaper headlines,they will want to know. I think I would answer honestly on a level he can cope with. These are things that he will come across, especially when he gets to secondary school. Do you want him to be the child who has the wrong idea completely or the child who can put others right? As much as we want to protect our children, we have to protect them in the right way, by arming them with knowledge, facts and truth rather than leaving them to find out by themselves.
    When your elder son was at this age, was there honestly as much in the papers about child abuse? rape? paedophilia? I don’t think so. My youngest is 22 and I don’t remember having to explain these things.
    Next week he will be asking different difficult questions, like why does he have to have a bath! You are doing brilliantly, there are no easy answers. If there were, we would have world peace and every body would be happy!

    1. You make a good point, you really do … and I think that maybe in 6 months time, as he approaches ‘big school’, I will tell him in very very simple terms what those things were. I am honest about 99% other things he asks and not telling him does go against my nature. However, I just don’t feel the time is right, and I guess I only have my gut instinct to go on. But thanks for saying I’m doing a good job – it’s hard to know when it’s just you! You just keep putting 1 foot in front of the other 🙂

  4. My son is only just eleven and started asking these questions also at ten but towards the end of year six (he’s just started high school) As he knew what sex is I was honest with him and told him what it is. I took it as an opportunity to tell him its wrong and to talk to him about respecting women and girls.
    i guess its different for us because his dad was abusive so he’s already had to deal with adult things and is really quite mature. This experience though has made me determined to raise three boys who are respectful towards women and teaching them healthy attitudes to sex is something important to me and something I take every opportunity to do albeit in an age appropriate way. For instance with my four year olds i talk about how nobody is allowed to hurt them and that if someone doesn’t want to hug/kiss/hold hands/whatever that’s ok and we don’t make them…. I hope it sows the seeds ready for when they cone home and say “what’s rape?” hope that helps

    1. Thanks for commenting Sally. Dexter knows what sex is … that is, the basics. I just wonder if he has the emotional maturity to handle knowing that there are horrible people out there that do bad things. Although, like your son, mine has witnessed stuff that’s made him grow up fast too so maybe he’s more mature than I give him credit for. Still think I’m going to wait though … but the chat will happen before he goes to big school, no doubt.

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