How to Talk to Your Kids About Embarrassing Topics.
Just because you’re comfortable discussing certain topics with other adults doesn’t mean it’s easy to have similar discussions with your kids. Having an open point of view about a subject may not automatically translate into a relaxed attitude when trying to find the words to explain things to young people. As a parent or caregiver you are your child’s most important source of information, but being embarrassed is understandable. Allow yourself the room to have these feelings, even while recognizing that talking with your children lays the foundation for healthy communication and informed decision-making as they develop and are exposed to certain situations.
Consider these tips when you’re faced with discussing subjects with your kids that are a little embarrassing:
- Do not wait until your children ask questions. By identifying opportunities for discussion and bringing up topics yourself you won’t be caught off-guard.
- Start out by knowing what messages you’d like to share, and be your own example by practicing these messages.
- Seek “teachable moments”— daily opportunities that occur when you are with your children—that make it easy to share your messages and values.
- Let your children know that you are open to talking with them about these important issues. They’ll know they can come to you and by opening the lines of communication the embarrassment may subside.
- Listen. It’s important that your children feel that they can talk to you.
- Try to understand your children’s point of view.
- Provide pamphlets, books, and other age-appropriate materials. These are helpful for those times when you can’t quite get your point across or find the right words.
- If you don’t know how to answer your children’s questions, offer to find the answers or look them up together.
- Find out what, if anything, your children’s schools are teaching about these topics. If what’s being taught at school is different from what’s being discussed at home, you’ll want to know about it and make changes accordingly.
- Stay actively involved in your children’s lives. You’ll want them to anticipate your interest in what’s happening with them and to be able to identify if anything is wrong or different.
Excerpted from SIECUS FAMILIES ARE TALKING Newsletter,Volume 2, Number 3 2003. Learn more about SIECUS.
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