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Our 3-year-old son noticed his mother's scar from the cesarean section and wondered what it was. We didn't really give him an answer but diverted his attention instead. Now we're talking about how should handle that question.

On one hand, we don't want to tell him exactly what it is because we don't want him to think all babies are born that way (even though both our kids were). On the other hand, it's a reasonably natural thing - but he's too young to understand it.

When's the right time to explain this? I figure there'll be a point where we feel he's mentally ready to grasp the idea.

What answers can we give until then? We need to provide something when he asks because we don't want to avoid the topic as if it were a taboo.

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

You know the scar is about a birth, but your little one doesn't. Children ask about scars, birthmarks and such all the time. Mine have never really wanted the whole entire details all at once. They indicate their interest by continuing the conversation after your first simple answer. Imagine if it was from your appendectomy or from a burn you got when you were a teen. How much detail would you include in the first sentence of your answer? I would answer that "it's a scar from an operation." Having an operation is really fairly normal. If you've never discussed surgery before, you can go on "the doctors gave me something so it wouldn't hurt, cut my skin so they could get to my insides, and fixed something, then sewed the cut back up." That's almost certainly what the question is about.

You might get a followon question: "were you sick?" and you could answer "not exactly. But I needed some help from the doctors to make things right." Or you could end that "to get you out" (or your brother or whatever). But I wouldn't start with that. It's not what you're being asked. This is someone who's still working on what's a scar and how do you get them. Far more likely followons are "did it hurt?" "did you bleed a lot?" "were you scared?" and so on. A three-year old will have plenty of questions and doesn't need the whole answer all at once.

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When my daughter asked about my c-section scar, I told her that's the mark where the doctor removed her brother. Then again, he spent a few weeks in NICU and she was nearly 3, so she was a bit more aware of what was going on.

She often asks for her baby story, and part of me telling her about her birth is when I tell her that Daddy cried when she was born, and Mawmaw cried, and Pawpaw cried, but Mama didn't cry 'cause I was so exhausted because having babies is hard work (she was not c-section). She can understand at 4 that babies grow inside a mother and have to come out, and knows that her brother was born in a different way that left a mark, and that seems to be enough for her. Mostly her concern has been whether it hurt then, or hurts now.

Were I in your shoes, I'd just tell him it marks the spot where he and his sibling came out of mama, and leave it at that. Let him guide you with what else he wants to know at this point.

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