I had a very important discussion with O. the other day.
O: What does paint taste like?
O: Does yellow paint taste different from green paint?
Me: They both taste bad.
O: But a different kind of bad? Or the same kind of bad.
Me: I think the same kind of bad. I don't think the color changes the taste.
O: Is the paint I paint on paper with the same kind Papa is painting the house with?
Then I explained that no, they are not the same kind. Paints are different by what is used to make them spread around. Some spread around with water, some with oil, some with other things. What makes them spread around is probably mostly what makes the way they taste, etc. By the time we arrived at church he seemed to be pretty much satisfied that he had gotten the whole scoop.
I think one of the most important things we can do is talk with our kids and take their questions seriously. Do our best to give them direct, honest answers (keeping in mind their age and ability to handle some information) and not just brush them aside. This is a way of earning their trust, so that when they do have some more serious things they may need to talk about, they won't think they will be brushed aside. This takes time. It takes paying attention. But I think it is one of the most important investments we can make.