When It's Time For "The Talk"
The Double Digits.
Congrats, You're a Proud Parent of an Almost Teen!
I remember when my oldest was born. He was tiny. Okay, he still is pretty tiny in comparison to everyone else his age. But what he lacks in size, he more than makes up for in personality and intelligence. I was never an emotional person, but I remember being a nervous wreck when he was first boarding the bus to his first day of Kindergarten. I was worried he wouldn't do well, since at his Kindergarten Orientation he clung to my leg and cried when he had to leave me. He went on to his orientation, enjoyed his time and didn't want to leave. When it came time to leave for the bus stop, I remember him asking "how do I look?" I told him he looked awesome. "Thanks Mom!" he said with smile. As we were about to leave the house, he looked at me sternly and said "you should give me my hug and kiss here. It'll embarrass me if you do it at the bus stop and I don't want to start my first time at school that way."
I wanted to cry, because he was grown up and I admit my feelings were a little hurt. But I composed myself and gave him his hug and kiss before leaving the house. I wasn't going to be that embarrassing parent. I went onto my day at college and while I was there I realized I shouldn't be hurt by this. Sure, it's sad when you realize your child is growing up. This moment meant that I have done my job and I did it well. This is a huge developmental milestone, and if I looked at it logically I could feel much better about it. He wasn't my baby anymore, even though he will always be my baby boy.
This year, I sat down to read his end of the year newsletter. There was a notice to the parents of 5th graders that they were going to show "the film" and that parents were free to come to a PTO meeting and watch the video that was going to be shown to their children so they could make an informed decision on whether they want their child to see it or not. I looked at my 4th grader and realized that this time next year I would be getting the same notice. I did have a little "freak-out" moment. I'm not sure if it was because I was realizing that soon he would be in middle school in a year's time. If that wasn't terrifying enough, I flashed back to what happens when he comes home after watching that movie. I wasn't prepared for this. I'm still not prepared for this. Besides I was a "teen mom", what right do I have to give anyone "the talk". Do as I say, not as I did?
During one of the last practices of the season, we were sitting around discussing this. One of the coaches, who's wife was pregnant and gave birth around the same time as myself, said that when his child would see the video, he'd come home with his eyes bugging out of his head. His wife told us how when she got pregnant, it was because they all prayed for a baby and it appeared in her stomach. I recalled telling my older son about how I was pregnant and much to my equal parts joy and surprise, he never asked how babies are made. I suppose I'd rather avoid the topic than have to lie to him about it. Though, I'm going to go with "go talk to your daddy". I've already told my husband since they're both boys, that he can have the pleasure of having "the talk" with them. I admit my embarrassment when it comes to discussing those sort of things, it's my downfall as a parent and probably my biggest weakness.
This makes me happy that the schools can still (for now) start the talk for us in an environment they will feel comfortable with. Maybe they'd feel more comfortable is someone that isn't their parent initiate it so it seems less awkward for them. I'm definitely a firm believer in sex-ed in the schools because ignorance is not bliss. You shouldn't just teach abstinence and pray that they follow. You should teach why they should abstain, but give them the knowledge to be prepared for the "just in case" scenario so they can make informed decisions. Teaching prevention of cancer or heart disease doesn't make people want to get cancer or heart disease, so why would teaching how to be safe encourage teenagers to have sex? I got a little off-point here, but I think it's a good debate to have. We can't control our children when they aren't around, but we can try to make sure they make the best decisions possible when we're not there to tell them what to do.
We have to accept this inevitability of our children growing up someday. We should embrace this new portion of their journey, because it's confusing and emotional enough as it is without our anxiety getting in their way. Someday we will need to have "the talk" and teach them as much as we can to help them in any situation they will probably find themselves facing. I remember what being a teenager was like, and I'm certain you do as well. Times have changed, but the core difficulties we faced are the same ones we're sending them into the world to face head-on. We have the difficult decisions as parents to decide what information we send them off with. I hope I make the right choices going forward, because I know that I can impact them in the most positive or negative way.
The "How To"
The conversation is a hard one, I'm sure. I've been doing my research. The Child Now is a wonderful website with tips on talking with children, and I decided to share a few good ones with you that I've learned from other issues.
- To the point. The most important trick I've learned is to get straight to the point. You should be concise but remember the age group you're talking to. When they ask a question, they want an answer and that's your job. You don't need to go into too much detail and if you do, follow the KISS rule. (Keep it Simple Stupid)
- Don't avoid. You can't avoid your children and their questions. And if you don't give them answers, they will ask someone else and they might get answers that you don't approve of or that are wrong. It's our job as parents to keep our children informed and they'd rather it from us anyways.
- If you don't know, learn. Whenever my son asks a question, I give him whatever answer I can. And if that answer is "I don't know", I tell him I'll find out and tell him. And he never forgets and I always give him his answer. This builds a trust and bond between the two of you and maybe keep lines open so he'll always come to you for his answers.
- Never laugh and always be compassionate. There is no such thing as stupid questions, just stupid people? This absolutely applies. They wouldn't ask if it didn't mean something to them, so never make them feel like they are stupid or inferior people for asking. This could crush their self-confidence and cause them to never ask questions again. This should go without being said, but this is a terrible thing.