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Turning an Awkward Situation into a Learning Moment

My daughter turns round and screams “monster, monster” pointing at the woman and looking absolutely terrified.


We have all experienced situations that could be described as awkward or difficult because we were probably ill prepared to handle them. Things can get more interesting when they involve kids.

As a parent, you are torn between moving away from the situation or dealing with it there and then. This was the case with one of our NMO mums. Read on.

I usually help out in the Sunday school class for pre-school children in my church. Last Sunday I was one of three leaders on duty. My younger daughter is in this class and was with me while we were waiting for a couple of children to be picked up after the service had finished. During a period of silence, I saw my daughter move close to one of the other teachers, stare at her with a very serious look and said “your face is dirty”.

This lady had freckles on her face and my daughter had probably just seen freckles for the first time. I tried to correct her but she insisted (as younger kids do) that “the face was dirty”. I thought it was best to let it go for that moment, especially since it seemed the lady involved wanted to move on from the conversation. However, she did not seem to mind a child getting it wrong.

I remember when something similar happened with my first daughter. We had gone to an out of town shopping outlet (frequented by a lot of visitors from abroad) with her dad and a friend. We went into one of the shops and her dad and our friend popped upstairs to the men’s section. There was a lady wearing a burka behind my daughter and the moment I saw her, it occurred to me that she had probably not seen a burka before (she was only about two at the time and we live in a smallish village).

As I was still trying to think of when she might have seen one, my daughter turns round and screams “monster, monster” pointing at the woman and looking absolutely terrified. Needless to say, I was really embarrassed, but good thing is I did not freeze or freak out. I calmly explained to her that the lady was not a monster but that was a form of dressing and one that the lady chose to wear. The lady said to me, she was glad I handled it that way. She said hello to my daughter and had a conversation with her.

The friend that was with us now works in the Middle East where burkas are the norm and I suspect his daughter does not blink when she sees the locals dressed in them. Exposure.

As parents, we will often be faced with similar situations. Rather than shy away from them, we should see them as opportunities to educate our little ones. I have seen cases like the two described where parents are so embarrassed that they just laugh them off.

Education and Exposure creates an Enlightened mind.

Please share with us similar experiences you’ve had.

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