Remember when we were younger and would imagine being parents one day? We’d be the cool parents. The kind that dressed trendy, watched cartoons, played fun games and talked with our kids so easily. Funny how reality kicks in. As we get older, and young people shape a new world, connecting with kids can get tough. Talking with kids about tricky topics can be even tougher. Stuff like internet safety. Or where do babies come from? Or death. Or as they get older, dating, sex education, drugs and alcohol, and all the highs and lows that being a teenager can bring. Some of these topics can really make us feel out of our depth, or even just… awkward.
And part of us wants to slip away and ignore that these talks must happen. The hope that if we ignore the topic, it will just go away? Maybe the kids will teach themselves or find it out through school and their mates… uhhh maybe that’s not so good.
So, as parents, we need to find ways to talk about the tricky stuff. It’s not easy, but we’ve got a bunch of tips to make things a little more comfortable:
Embrace the awkward, be as open and honest as you can be. Use humour if it helps!
Plan what you might say, expect any question, expect the unexpected! You don’t have to be an expert, but you can be an expert listener. It’s okay to not have the answer straight away.
Think about age, boundaries, values and responsibilities. If your conversations raise concerns, reach out to support services like Parentline.
Think about timing, some parents wait until they are in the car to chat about tricky stuff… because there is nowhere to run! You could try to talk in relaxed environments while doing everyday tasks like cooking, washing the dishes or even walking the dog. Shorter, more frequent conversations might help particularly for the tough topics.
So, enjoy tackling those tricky topics and remember you’re not alone, confide in your support networks which might be neighbours, friends, other parents, or family. You can also find support services in your area through www.oneplace.org.au.