Talking Through Tough Topics

Sex. Drugs. Alcohol. Violence. Aids. Relationships. All tough topics but important ones that must be discussed with our children. How do we approach these difficult topics and handle them in an age appropriate manner?

Make it a priority. Make the time to talk to your child a priority. Sometimes life can get too busy and talking time becomes hard to find. Take advantage of everyday moments to talk. Use time in the car, meals, or even television time talk about things that matter. These easy conversations will lay the groundwork for more difficult conversations later on.

Start early. In today’s society, our children are faced with more access to knowledge than at any other time in history. They are forced to process information on difficult and sometimes adult subjects at a young age. By talking with them, you give them the benefit of your knowledge, experience and wisdom. Also, increasing research shows that children, even teens, really do value the opinions of their parents. So, before they hear the information from a source that does not share the values you want to instill in your children, talk with them early and often.

Make the first move. It would be wonderful if our children came to us every time they had a question or wanted to express a concern. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes, you will have to take the initiative. Take advantage of normal occurrences and use them as ice breakers to broach difficult subjects. Discuss the television shows you watch or the movies you see. Discuss situations that occur at school or in afterschool settings. Ask your child his/her opinion. Asking a few simple questions can open the door to an important conversation.

Stay age appropriate. Do not overwhelm your child with words, phrases and subject matter that are beyond their understanding and level of maturity. For example, a detailed discussion of adult sexual behavior would be inappropriate for a six year old. However, at the age of six, a child can know proper hygiene and how to recognize inappropriate touching.  This is especially important if you have children of various ages. Try to have individual conversations so that each child receives the benefit of your individual attention and a conversation that caters to their stage of development.

Share your values.  Take advantage of this opportunity to give your children your side and instill your values. If you start talking with them early, you have a better chance of getting your principles in before they are bombarded with the media images and uncensored conversations they will hear later.

Be prepared to have important conversations more than once. During their lifetime, you will have several opportunities to strengthen your relationship with your child as you converse about many different topics. The more you talk, the easier it will become.

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Talking Through Tough Topics