In this day and age, if we don’t put the effort into having serious conversations with our children about those “tough” topics then somebody else will, and we may not like what they tell or teach our child. As parents, we are our children’s life instructors — we are also their model, their muse, their inspiration, and their motivation. But more than anything, we are their standard for what is “right” and “good” in this world. Don’t pass up the opportunities to be what you were meant to be to your child, and don’t be lazy in regard to your responsibilities.
Whether or not you enjoy the tasks forced upon you with parenthood does not matter. What does matter is that you find the time and make the effort to step out of your comfort zone and have those often more challenging talks with your children. How your child grows up, the type of human being they become, and the size of their contribution to this world is directly related to their confidence in their own ability to navigate through life. Don’t we all feel better navigating things when we understand how to properly handle any and all obstacles or challenges that arise on our journey?
- Talk to your children about the “isms” – all of them. Make them aware that discrimination exists and that they must fight it (albeit, respectfully) in every form.
- Talk to your children about bullying — in all its forms. Describe for them what physical, emotional, verbal, and cyber bullying is, how to recognize the signs of each, and the proper ways to handle them. Make sure that your child understands that bullying is something no one should ever have to experience, and that they should never be on the receiving end or doling it out.
- Talk to your children about sex and relationships. Of course, you only should discuss sex with your child when they are of the appropriate age for such a conversation, but teaching them about healthy vs. unhealthy relationships (of all kinds) can start when your kids are young. Discussing with your child their values and what they hope to get out of life, as well as modeling for them what a healthy relationship should look like are both great steps for handling a tough topic.
- Talk to your children about the importance of honesty –in their speech, their intentions, and in their work.
- Talk to your children about sacrifice. This includes the ones you have made for them and the ones their grandparents made for you. Talk about the men and women presently making sacrifices each and every day on behalf of random strangers. Talk about small sacrifices and discuss big sacrifices. Sacrifice is pure and selfless. Make sure that your child understands this, as more of “this” is needed in the world.
- Talk to your children about death and tragedy. Nobody wants to, but we need to. Talk honestly with them and at an age-appropriate level. Don’t sugarcoat it, but don’t be overly graphic. Make sure that they understand the inevitability of tragedy and death, but provide them with sufficient reassurance of their safety.
- Talk to your children about religion and faith, without bias. Of course, we want for our children to believe what we believe, but our children, well, they are their own people. Each and every child deserves to hear about and understand how people of different or no faith feel about the spiritual world. Be your child’s resource, but not their pressure pusher. Let them take all of their knowledge and curiosity and reach a preferred spiritual (or non) path to take.
- Talk to your children about politics. All that you need to make sure they know is that there is a bigger picture in this world, beyond themselves. Encourage them to stay informed via neutral media sources so that they can grow up with the capability to make their own decisions on where to place their support. Your main goal should be finding ways to exemplify to them that political decisions do impact them and their family, and that they have the power to have their voice heard on issues they feel strongly about.
Listen, these are just my suggestions. If you do nothing else…JUST TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN, because the reality is that if you don’t talk to them, someone else most certainly will.