- Family and Parenting
The Five Most Vital Conversations To Have With Your Children
Whether you are a parent, stepparent, or guardian, there will come a time when you will have to sit down with your child or charge and have a little discussion about life and some of what it entails. I have created a list of the five most vital conversations to have with your child. They are wide topics so in each case I have narrowed down as best as I could
Talking to a child about a serious topic does not have to be a stressful event. Take the time to know the child. Learn how best they will react to various types of communication. Find out how best they communicate their own feelings and encourage them to communicate with you through that medium. It could be through music, art, or role-playing. Find out different ways that you can use to communicate effectively with your child.
The five topics that are important to discuss with a child, in no particular order, are:
- Sex and Sexual Relationships
- Safety and
Spoiler: I am merely giving suggestions and the following is not necessarily meant to be a guide on how to raise your child. All final decisions are up to you and you may choose to follow my suggestions or not. Either way, here they are:
1. Sex and Sexual Relationships
This is one tricky topic to discuss with kids so I will start with it. It can be hard to have a conversation with your child about sex, especially if the topic was avoided when you were growing up. Years ago, parents used to think children did not need to know anything about sex and sexual relationships. This does not apply today. Children are so casually exposed to sexual information and images that it is very easy for them to get the wrong information.
Sex sells, and people today use sex to sell almost anything. To some people sex is just a casual act that has no repercussions but that is misleading. Children need to know that there are repercussions to having sex. They need to know that there are emotional, physical, and psychological effects in any sexual encounter.
»Value of sex and sexual relationships
Children need to know the value of sex and sexual relationships. It is important that when you have the sex conversation with your child that you teach them the value of sex and sexual relationships. Do not oversell it though. In teaching them the values, they should learn the boundaries: what is acceptable and unacceptable for their age in terms of sexual contact. (This part speaks more of children who are old enough to be dating or may be in relationships.)
Lies We Tell Kids
Sometimes as parents or guardians we think we are doing the best thing by hiding the truth from the child. Whether it is by giving only partial information, ignoring the topic, or sugar-coating what the real deal is. Of course we think this is perfectly logical. I mean, I wouldn't be willing to tell any child what happens when someone gets shot. At least not the same way I would tell an adult.
This writer has compiled a list of some of the popular lies we tell our kids.
» What is sex?
Let them know exactly what sex is. Of course, you need to explain it in an age-appropriate manner. Tell your child that sex is not a bad thing; it is just not something for children to experience. When you talk to your child about sex, it is important for you to remain calm and collected. Encourage them to ask questions about it and try to answer their questions.
»Risks and Benefits of Sexual Intercourse
Too many times parents fill their children's heads with how bad sex is and how horrible the whole act is. This is not only misleading, it is unfair. While they need to be told about the risks of having sexual intercourse, especially on having it when they are not ready, they also need to know that when they are old enough, mature enough, and ready for sex, there are benefits to the act. You do not need to scare them away from sex. Give them the facts, teach them to weigh the facts and make good decisions and you will have nothing to worry about.
»What to avoid when seeking a partner
Too often, we see teenagers 'fall in love' with someone who abuses them in many different ways. Sometimes this happens because they are merely looking for someone to give them the attention they crave. When they are in these relationships, they may be blinded to the fact that if the person truly loved them they would not be hurting them. This is why children need to learn how to identify abusive traits in people. They need to be told how to identify and stay away from people who are abusive and too controlling.
»What to look for when seeking a partner
It is not enough to talk to your child and tell them what to avoid in a partner. Help them to identify what they like in people. They will watch you and see the type of people with whom you associate. They will take note of how their parents interact with each other. If they see their parents/guardians treat each other well they will grow up having an idea of what to look for in a good relationship. It is important to tell your child that love and respect are important factors of a good relationship.
»How to prevent pregnancy
Talk to your child about the many different ways to prevent pregnancy. Tell them about abstinence and the different birth control methods. Unless you manage to be with them everywhere they go and have a say in everything they do they will be exposed to information that is wrong. They will hear the many sex myths and stories on how to prevent pregnancy using some ridiculous tactics. If you teach them the right way from the beginning, it is likely that they will make a wise decision.
Do not fully depend on the school's sex education class to teach your child about the different Sexually Transmitted Infections and Sexually Transmitted Diseases that are out there. Do your own research and let the lessons taught at school be a compliment to what you teach them.
» Tell your child that your religious beliefs and practices are different from that of some people.
I thought it was unfair when I was at school and while we were instructed to clasp our hands and close our eyes for prayer, some students were allowed to wait outside until the devotions were over or not participate in devotions. Little did I know that they were of another religion and did not observe the same practices as us Christians.
If you are not sure what to tell them, do your research.
»Sexual orientation and gender diversity
I was watching the television the other day with my nephew. A play was being advertised where a man was dressed like a woman. He pointed to the screen and asked, "Aunty, what is that one?" He is only three but he was able to see that there is a difference in how this person looked. He was not able to identify him as a man or as a woman. When you talk to your children, it is important to teach them about homosexuality, transgender, and bisexuality.
» Let them know the importance of an education and the many possibilities a good education can lead to in the future.
» Encourage them to experiment with new subjects and find out where their passions are.
» Let them know that you will support their decisions in terms of their future occupations and that they can be anything they want to be.
Let your children see you, the parents, show each other love. It could be a simple kiss, a pat on the shoulder/elbow, a hug.
» Encourage them to try challenging subjects and help them when they do.
» Let them understand that your religion is only one of the many religions of the world.
There are many different religions in the world. When you sit to talk with your child, let them know that there are many religions. It is important to tell them that even though the religions are different, there is no reason to discriminate, disrespect, fear, or hate some one of a different religion. They are all to be treated with respect and love.
Religion and religious beliefs are important for various reasons that I will not get into right now. If you have decided to teach your child about religion, which I think every parent should, it is good to start from early, and help them to think about it on their own. If they only think or act on the religious beliefs when you say they should then what have they learned?
Here are seven important things to tell children about the Christian religion.
»Good and bad sexual contact
As soon as the child is able to understand and are away from you, they need to know the difference between good and bad sexual contact.
» Encourage, do not force, your child/children to take part in your religious celebrations, activities, meetings and teachings.
» Give them information on your religious beliefs. Share stories, teachings, beliefs, etc.
»God loves them
If you can tell them nothing else about religion, let them know that God loves them. It can make a world of a difference.
» Tell your child to show love, kindness, and compassion to others. Enforce this by letting him know how much you love him. Show him love, be kind and compassionate.
Talk to your child about safety practices. Tell them what they need to do in the case of an emergency. Tell them never to go out with strangers and never get into a vehicle or accept certain gifts from strangers. Remember to add safety tips for when they are on the internet.
» Teach your child how to attract attention if they are in a dangerous situation.
» Tell them where to go and what to do if they get lost, if they are in danger, or in the case of an emergency. It may help if you have the information easily accessible in the home as a reminder. You can do this by writing the information on forms that you can get online and leaving them by the phone.
Who To Call
Fire / Ambulance
Major cuts, burns and bruises
If you are lost
» Tell them why it is important to practice good hygiene.
Have you ever had any of the conversations outlined here with your child or children?
» Teach them about puberty and the changes to expect physically and emotionally.
As your child matures, they will experience many changes in their bodies. This change can be scary if they do not understand what is happening to them. Before they reach puberty, tell your child what puberty is and the changes that will occur in their bodies. Teach them how to deal with the changes and help them to think positively about what is happening. Be there for them when they need you but do not hover. Give them some space and allow them to come to terms with what is happening. Tell them to feel free to talk to you about what they are feeling and what they are experiencing.
To help your child to deal with the issue of bullying and peer pressure, you need to talk with your child from early on in life and teach them to identify and deal with these issues. Help them to build their self-esteem and confidence so that they will have the emotional capability to handle the situation. In addition, build a rapport with your child. The only way you are going to know what is going on in the mind of your child is if they speak to you. Encourage your child to have conversations with you. Ask them questions that are non-threatening and let them steer the conversation. You may be surprised at what they have to say if only you listen.
This is only one of the many incidents. There are too many to count.
One teenager at a a school in Amhurst, New York commited suicide after being bullied about his sexual orientation by his peers online and at school.
» Mental health
Maintaining a good mental health is just as important as physical health. It is important to talk to your child about peer pressure and bullying. We have been seeing a drastic increase in the suicide in children who are victims of bullying. Many of them are so young. I do not think that some of their parents even knew what was going on because the child was so ashamed and hid it well.
If you have not started talking to your child about these or any other important topics you can think of, now is the time to start. Do not feel pressured of anxious about it, take your time and decide how to start the conversation with the child. If you do feel nervous, ask a simple question or make a simple statement that might get the child to start the conversation.
» Let them know that only they can decide if they will obediently wholeheartedly and practice any religion. Give them the information and the tools to make the decision.