After a quick poll of my friends, I couldn’t find any with positive memories of “The Talk” with their parents when they were kids. Instead, I found knowledge about human reproduction was gathered in a variety of ways, including: the 5th grade school talk, details gathered from friends (often incorrect), books left discretely on bedside tables, movies, adult magazines, etc.
Needless to say, family conversations about changing bodies, reproduction and sexual health were rare and uncomfortable for my generation.
As a parent, I feel these conversations are really important, so I wanted to see if I could change that. My hope was to create a home where these conversations were perfectly normal and my kids felt comfortable enough to ask me anything.
For the most part, it’s worked. Age appropriate conversations started when my kids were toddlers and continue today. And they’re not really awkward.
Here are a few tips that have helped along the way:
- Start Early – Toddlers are filled with questions and not embarrassed like older kids. When my kids had questions, I tried to answer them in an age-appropriate way as simply and honestly as I could. This opened the door for more conversations later.
- Read Books Together – I found many great books at the library that I’ve brought home over the years. Most are written by child development experts and filled with age-appropriate information.
- Try Not to Flinch – As parents, we’ve all been caught off guard by a question we weren’t expecting. In these moments, I try my best not to flinch or respond in a way that makes my child feel embarrassed or ashamed for asking the question. Inside, I might be thinking “yikes”, but on the outside I try to appear calm and happy to talk.
- Buy Some Time if You Need to Think About Your Response – If you’re like me, you may need a few moments to figure out how to respond in an age-appropriate way. In these moments I say, “That’s a good question. I’m so glad you asked. Let me think about the best way to explain this…”
- Regularly Remind Your Kids That You Welcome Their Questions – I also remind my kids that sometimes what they are hearing from friends may not be correct, so they can always check with me.
- Find the Right Moments Instead of Forcing Conversations – Maybe we just listened to a news story that touches on an important subject or maybe we are taking the dog for a walk. Finding the right moments really helps.
If you have additional ideas and resources that you’ve found helpful to encourage open communication in your home, please share! Together we can raise a generation of kids where “the talks” are hopefully a lot less awkward and a lot more helpful.
PASS IT ON. Jessica Speer’s weekly BLOG focuses on helping kids and families thrive. Posts offer simple ideas to help kids and families connect & foster healthy relationships. If you know someone who might appreciate this content, please pass it on! Click here to follow blog via email or Facebook.