I recently listened to a podcast called Sorta Awesome. A licensed clinical social worker Leann Gardner (http://www.leanngardner.com) was interviewed in episode 99 on talking about sex with kids. She discussed a lot of interesting things. One topic was the importance of cultivating an open environment for children to talk about their bodies and sexuality. She also included tips for broaching important subjects.
Here’s the catch though: sometimes that environment won’t involve you directly.
The struggle is real
No matter what you do or how you do it, there is still a chance that your children will not feel comfortable in confiding in you about ALL the things they have going on in their heads. Why? Because deep down they care. In all honesty, they don’t want to have to manage our emotional reactions as their parent. See the example below.
Child: “So today, one of my friends was telling me about smoking…”
Parent: *tears, yelling, screaming and assumptions*
It’s true. There will be times our emotions get the best of us in our responses because they’re our children. So, how do we help them?
Build a community of trust
Can you think of the people you confided in most as a child or teen? They probably weren’t your parents. For most people, their greatest confidants were other adults they felt safe around. These people made their conversations feel confidential and respected. Those people are your inner circle. Your community of trust.
A community of trust is a small group of adults- aunts, uncles, godparents or family friends- who you would trust to parent your children in your absence. However, their role is to be there for your child when they have questions about hard things. The people who make up this community will listen empathetically, guarantee confidentiality, and give trusted advice. The key here is TRUST. Trust on the parent’s side that no news is good news and trust on your children’s side that their conversations are kept confidential (UNLESS safety is an issue).
Let it go (sorry to get that song stuck in your head now!)
Remember, no matter how incredible your relationship is with your children, there will be things they don’t want to discuss or ask you about. This is not a reflection of your parenting, but a reality of healthy development. So, give yourself grace and find comfort in knowing that you have surrounded your children with a group of people who love, care and support them.
I hope as you have been reading this post, you have already begun to think of people you trust to be in your children’s community of trust. Talk with them; let them know your expectations! And most importantly, talk with your children; let them know that there is always someone who they can talk too because this, is one of the most powerful ways we CAN protect them!
If you have questions about Amy Wine Counseling Center’s therapeutic services, please contact us at 832-421-8714.