One of the hardest parts of parenting is learning how to handle those inevitable, uncomfortable, and ultimately important tough parenting talks. It’s those things you don’t want to talk about, but you really need to talk about, that test your parenting abilities, strengthen your relationship with your child, and prepares your child for the future. Conversations about topics like divorce, death, puberty, bullying, sexuality, and abuse are unavoidable; unless you want your child turning to their peers, the Internet, social media, or other unreliable sources for information and comfort. It’s best that you are prepared so when these tough topics come your way you will pass the oral exam with flying colors.
As a parent, I have an open communication policy with my boys. They know they can ask me anything & no matter how much I cringe & want to run from the room in tears I will give them straight forward & honest (age appropriate) answers. Kids will have questions, they will have big feelings they don’t always understand, & they need someone to confront & confide in-as a parent, you need to be that person. You need to be prepared for the tough parenting talks so when your child throws you a curve ball you are ready.
How To Prep For the Tough Parenting Talks
You need to check in with your own emotions before you attempt to check in with your child. Make sure you are calm, clear headed, and objective prior to the conversation commencement. Be aware of your biases, feelings, thoughts, vulnerabilities, and weaknesses regarding the topic on hand. Is this a topic you are comfortable with and knowledgeable about? Do you need to do little research or reach out to a support before talking it out with your child? You may not be in the right mindset to handle the conversation at hand. It’s okay. Don’t be afraid to tell your child you value their question and that you will give them a full answer soon. You are best able to take care of your child’s needs when your needs are cared for.
2. Assess Your Child
Try to anticipate how your child may be feeling regarding this topic and plan your response accordingly. Is she curious? Scared? In need? Be conscious of your child’s maturity level and make sure your answer is age appropriate. Most of the tough topics cannot and should not be covered in one conversation. Often times, you will introduce the topic and continue to build on the initial address in conversations to come. Pay attention to your child’s emotional responses as you converse. Be ready to adjust the conversation to meet your child’s needs and comfort level.
Listening is one of the most important things a parent can do. Your child is going to need someone to talk to, and you can only hope that outlet will be you. Make yourself available to your child daily. We live in an extremely busy world that is constantly piling more & more on our to-do lists. It’s important that you carve out some down time to allow your child the opportunity to approach you, and when she does, give her your full attention. Your child may not always verbalize his concerns. Pay attention to non-verbal cues. Watch for changes in mood, routines, energy levels, friends, behaviors, and emotions. Let these cues dictate what you say to your child, when you say it, and how you say it.
Don’t always wait for your child to come to you. Sometimes these tough talks are handled best when you confront them directly. If you are paying attention to your child’s emotional cues, life changes, & maturity development you will know if it is a good time to bring up some of these inevitable discussions. Sometimes the best way to bring up a new topic is with a granulized question. When you regularly engage in conversations and questions about every day dealings with your child she will feel more comfortable and confident answering the tough questions.
Be sympathetic in your responses to your child. Remind her that whatever she is feeling is okay. It’s okay to be sad, scared, angry, and hurt. Sometimes these big conversations can be earth shattering for young minds that thrive on consistency. When you tackle a tough topic it is important that you take a moment to remind your child that nothing has changed, life is the same, it is only their understanding that has expanded. Be sure to be honest, straightforward, & clear. Remind your child that you are there to help.
Discussing mature concepts with little minds is scary, overwhelming, and intimidating. But it is important. Life is confusing, it is your job to guide your child through the difficult phases she will face. You want him to turn to you as a source for information, especially when it comes to these tough topics. So follow these tips and be ready for those oncoming tough parenting talks and keep your children from running the other way when you say, “puberty”.
Helping our children maneuver through this world is a challenge not for the faint of heart! Here are a few more ideas to help you win at this parenting thing: