26
May
2014

What Every Parent Should Know About Talking With Your Kid

Posted in : about life/the Christian faith

Just wanted to briefly admonish all of the parents out there to fearlessly talk with your children about any and all topics of life. Because, here’s the deal: while you may be afraid to bring up certain topics, you can rest assured that your child(ren) will come across people who are all too happy to “educate” your child about certain things. That bank and credit card company and lender will be all too happy to get your child wrapped up in debt. That TV show series on NetFlix will be all too happy to fill your child’s head with opinions and attitudes about sex. That person with whom they go to school or go to work will be all too happy to “set them straight” on any number of things in life. Make sure you beat them to the punch.

We’ll limit the topic of this blog post to talking about sex; but the truth is, this can be applied to any other important areas of life about which your children *desperately* need your counsel―whether or not they ask for your counsel or even are aware, themselves, that they need your counsel! You can use these same principles to talk with your children about money, the realities and effects of drugs, health and medical things like staying in shape, relationships―any number of things. But like I say, we’ll limit it to how you talk to your child about sex, here, just because, let’s face it―sometimes it’s difficult to address sexual topics with your children.

If you are afraid to talk about sex with your child, there are people who *WILL* talk (and probably already are talking) about sex with your child. It doesn’t MATTER if your parents were afraid to talk to you about it, and therefore, you’re afraid to bring it up with your child―that’s not good enough. You cannot afford to sweep it under the rug and ignore it and just “hope they make good decisions”.

And if it’s the CONTENT of what you have to say that hinders you from having conversation―well, yes, honestly, you *should* be worried about saying the right things. You might think: “Well, what do I say? I don’t know if I know everything myself? I’m scared I might say the wrong thing or not say the right thing.” Do not let the FEAR of “saying the wrong things” cause you to NOT have the conversation at all. Because here’s the deal, two things: First, even if you don’t “say all the right things” or even if you’re not 100%-educated YOURSELF, the very fact that you were *willing* to talk about it with your child lets them know that it is OK for them to talk with you about such things. “Well of COURSE my child can talk to me about anything! They know that!?” Do they really know that? How will they know that it is OK for them to talk to you about anything if you have not started a discussion for real, and also told them straight-up that it is OK for them to talk to you about “any of this stuff”? Second, honestly, the sexual innuendos your child hears on a daily―DAILY basis―in school, at work, while they’re on social media, when they listen to songs and watch movies, yeah, some of these innuendos are hard to catch. Maybe sometimes you have “kind of” an understanding about a certain trend or phrase these kids throw around nowadays, but you need to fully know what it means; well, you see, the Internet is a powerful thing. Remember when you thought, “I wonder what ‘yolo’ means? These kids say it all the time or they post it all the time on facebook.” Maybe you still don’t know what “yolo” means. Maybe you’re still trying to figure out what “hashtag” means, and trying to make heads or tails out of what putting a pound-sign ” # ” in front of words means. Maybe. By the way, don’t worry―”yolo” isn’t specifically sexual in nature. I mean, it could be used a basis by which to make sexual decisions, but I digress. The point is, a simple Google search of “What does ‘this-and-this’ mean?” Where you plug in whatever you see as a trend or innuendo of some sort in place of that “this-and-this” I said, or you type in some sort of phrase or topic about which you see kids talking or posting online that is suspicious about which you see your kids doing or saying will give you all you need to know. Go to Google and type in “What does ‘yolo’ mean’?” Google will spit out results, and you can click those various links and get educated in about 5.7 seconds about what a certain thing means. Another good reference is a place called “Urban Dictionarywww.urbandictionary.com . So when you don’t know what a certain thing or phrase or mindset that “These kids nowadays” are talking about is, use these two resources―Google and Urban Dictionary, or any others you deem necessary―and get informed. Then, upon your understanding what something means, if you think it’s worth educating your child or having a conversation with your child, then do it. When you understand, yourself, what a certain innuendo or phrase or mindset is, you can then compare that with your own knowledge and experience in life, and then be in the best position possible to integrate this with your child in a way that educates them in a REAL way. If you don’t, someone else WILL (or is already). Don’t be fooled―some of these sexual things are pretty grotesque or just, really DETAILED; and it’s going to be up to you to be open-minded to handle even the DEFINITION of what some sexual things are, about which kids are talking. But if you can keep a cool head, and bring it up in a way that resonates with your child specifically in how they talk about things, they’ll be better for it.

And by the way―when I am saying “having the conversation” or “talking about sex”, I’m not necessarily talking about simply the “birds and the bees” speech. Certainly that conversation must happen, but it should not be the only time you discuss such matters; nor should you think, “Well, we talked about the ‘birds and the bees’, that about covers it” and blissfully-and-ignorantly think “Checkmark―done, I did it! My kids are fine now, we had ‘the talk’.” No. That’s not good enough. That “birds and the bees” speech should, quite honestly, be the first of many times that you discuss sexual matters with your children. Now I don’t mean just talk about sex all the time *just because*. That *would* get a little weird, both for parent and child. But what I am saying is that when you hear your child say something; when you see them post something on facebook or Instagram, or tweet something; or when you see them do something related to all of this and you see a chance to educate them or point their minds in the right direction, you think, “Maybe this is an opportunity to educate them in the right way” about something. Whenever you come across a new trend in the media, or just some new phrase, or whatever, that you are suspicious is sexual in nature or you KNOW is sexual in nature―there’s another chance for education. Whenever you see a facebook post, or hear your child and their friends talking, or see a tweet, or you see a TV commercial with something you think may be a sexual innuendo―take the time to research what this thing is, what it means, what it is from, and if it is a sexual thing about which you want to make sure your child is talking or thinking about in the right way, then talk with them! Please know, this doesn’t mean that every time you want to talk with them, you have to create this super-formal time where you both sit down, and you preface some super-parent speech with, “Now little Timmy, I think we need to have a talk about something.” Because if you haven’t figured it out by now, your child responds best when you are REAL with them and when you talk with them in a way that is best for THEM SPECIFICALLY. So you may even just mention in passing the corrective behavior, or the piece of education or correct mindset you want to speak into your child’s life about the sexual topic in question. Could be you mention it and have a talk with them while you’re both riding in a vehicle and you just want to speak on it; could be you mention it and have a talk with them when you’re already texting and having a conversation over text with your child and you just want to go ahead and take a moment to type out a well thought-out text to educate them. However the opportunity presents itself and however you think your child will receive it, understand it, and respond to it―do THAT. Yeah, that means you gotta know your kid. The over-sexualization of our culture will never leave you wanting for many opportunities to educate your child in the “right way” to think about things. And again, if you’re worried that maybe YOU don’t even understand everything, so much that you’re afraid that you won’t “say the right thing” or educate your child properly because maybe even YOU don’t understand the sexual innuendo or whatever completely is, check out the paragraph above where I talk about the “content” of what to say (paragraph four of this piece of writing).

Now certainly, you want the best for your child, in life, don’t you? While you want to make sure you control the education about a certain topic simply because you want to inform your child, protect your child, and give them a sense about how to correctly think about things, you must also find a way to face the truth that, ultimately, your child *will* have to make certain decisions on their own. Your child is developing into, and is, an individual. As individuals with the ability to reason on their own in a cause-and-effect way, they have their own mindsets, their own opinions, their own philosophies, their own psychology and way of making sense of things in this life. And it is from such workings of the mind that they will base their actions. So I write this last paragraph to simply offer a perspective that, at the end of the day, your child *WILL* make their own decisions. They simply will. You cannot control them forever. What will grant you the most peace in the long-run is that you took the time and the effort to instruct them, and you did so with a loving heart. Not only will you be at peace, but your child will be better-equipped to choose a better life for themselves. You equip them, and it is up to them to use it or not.

―Travis J, MBA
May 26th, 2014

P.S. This piece of writing is largely (but not completely) inspired by how my father raised me. He always made it known to us, as his children, that we have the freedom to come talk to him about anything. He wasn’t afraid to have conversations when topics presented themselves. He fell short in some ways, and the thoughts in this blog post are ways I think would have helped me a little more. My dad did a GREAT job―particularly because HE received little instruction from his own parents―but he could have done even better. This piece of writing is largely influenced by my own observations of society and relationships nowadays, and in my own relation with my father about how he discussed with and educated me.



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I'm very big into education, and my energies are devoted to inspiring this desire for education into other people--at home and abroad.

Travis J's web-design company: Travis J Consulting http://www.ktravisj.com