Whenever I am in session, doing a group talk, or casually speaking with parents, the frequently asked question starts with these curious words: How do I tell my child/teen (fill in the blank)? This is usually followed by an explanation about their anxiousness and uncertainty to deliver. Naturally, there are so many different factors to consider when answering this question because it is often rooted in a feeling parents know all too well: fear. Please do not throw tomatoes at me with my answer: you tell them. We are concise, direct, and ready to receive.
Developmentally, you address what is being asked. Out of anxiousness, we may become long-winded in the explanation and forget we are not on a TED Talk stage. You can start by asking them what they already know to give you a point of reference. There is no need to avoid the elephant in the room because it is not paying rent.
Directly address what they are asking. It is perfectly okay not to know the answer. That is a perfect time to join with them in searching for a “right now” answer. Being direct demonstrates you are not attempting to fool them into thinking you have all the answers.
Be Ready to Receive
Last, be ready to receive. This can mean listening for deeper questions, their response or feelings about it, the dreaded silence, or a simple “okay”. At times, this may be uncomfortable because the void can be deafening and we tend to fill it by asking more questions or over-explaining.
We know that there is not a guide on how to parent because we learn as we go (hello to parents with two kids and your older child feeling like their younger sibling gets away with more than they ever did!). In all seriousness, you’ve got this. We are fearful of traumatizing them or not knowing how to handle them being exposed to ‘adult-like’ things. The fear is warranted and also, they are resilient.
For more information on how to speak to your children or to schedule an appointment, please contact us at 832-421-8714.