Parents we have to talk about ALL THE BIG STUFF! It’s time to get comfortably uncomfortable.
So many parents are uncomfortable when I bring up BIG topics: sex, porn, body image, masturbation, social media. I get it! I mean these are BIG topics and so much easier to just not talk about.
You see for many of us, along with not being taught about something as basic and integral as the bodies menstrual cycle, we were also not given information or conversations about sex, drugs or rock and roll. Right? If it was often it was a sit down, formal lecture on all the things we SHOULDN’T do. No conversation, no information “Just say no”. That didn’t work then and it’s not gonna work now.
The thing is most of us adults would of loved to have had that This is Us (if you haven’t watched the show I highly recommend it) conversation that made everything seem comfortably uncomfortable.
Our kids want this information! They have SO MANY QUESTIONS and we don’t really want them going to youtube or social media for the answers do we?
Kids “know” about things earlier and earlier! They are exposed to so much more information than we ever were at there ages. They have questions and we have the answers for them. We just have to be willing to get uncomfortable and go there!
Here’s the thing:
More than likely it’s gonna be uncomfortable! Parenting in general can often be uncomfortable. I don’t know about you but I never got use to wiping the snotty noses or cleaning up the puke filled beds (why oh why could they never make it into the bowl!). Now that they are older they can thankfully do those things themselves but they have a new need; conversation!
You many stumble across some words. You may even get emotional and it’s okay!
You may not “do it right”. I am not sure that there is a “perfect” way to have these conversations; but if you put thought into them, have chats with friends and actually have the conversations you are stepping in the right direction!
You may not know everything and that’s okay!
More than likely they are ready for the information well before you are ready to give it to them.
You gotta start somewhere and then keep going! Opening the dialogue on BIG conversations like: sex or consent is the hardest part. Once you start the conversation it gets easier to keep going. It isn’t a once and out affair but a continual check in as they grow older, have more questions and real life experiences.
None of that “sit down we need to talk” nonsense. I don’t know about you but if I personally hear the words, “Sit down we need to talk” my adrenaline is released and my defenses are up. This isn’t a great way to start a dialogue or open conversation around big topics. Instead start the conversations on a walk, as you are driving in the car, playing a board game or some other flow moment when you aren’t uncomfortably staring across from one another. This will immensely take the pressure off the conversation! Set up the listening as if this conversation is normal and natural to have (p.s it is).
Keep connected! It is easy as kids grow up to let the natural process of individuation occur. Our lives get busier, as does theirs and in general some tweens/teens get attitudes and they aren’t always as fun to be around. Here’s the thing though. They need us (even and especially when they say they don’t)! Establish early some sort of weekly ritual to stay connected. It doesn’t have to be time or money consuming; something as simple as a walk for 15 minutes every Wednesday or a cup of tea before bed once a week. Something that is planned and non-negotiable. Something that occurs every week and they can count on. Of course some weeks will be filled with silly talk and some weeks may present the opportunity for something bigger to come up.
Keep it age appropriate and if you don’t know what that is then check out one of the resources listed in the end of this article or heck reach out to me!
Try and make it a conversation! Basically kids this age don’t want to be lectured at. They want to be a part of the conversation. So saying things like “this has been on my mind, what do you already know about it, what questions do you have”, are all great starting points (even if they say nothing, it shows that you were honoring and respecting them).
Make it as short as you can. You don’t need to go into every intricate detail and this probably wont be the last time you talk about this topic. It will come in layers. Try and keep it short and sweet so that they stay with you.
Over to you! I would love to hear how you are starting the uncomfortably comfortable conversations in your family!
Common sense media: Along with being a great app/website for guidance around the age appropriateness of media there is also a wide bredth of great advice on age appropriateness for BIG topics like: sex, body image etc.
Ah Ha Parenting: Multitude of articles on age appropriate behavior and advice for parents of tweens/teens.
Sex Ed Rescue: Age by age appropriate guide on when developmentally appropriate conversations should begin.