We host “Coffee Chats” for parents every two months at Twin Parks Montessori Schools. This past week we discussed the topic of “how to have difficult conversations with your child”, which I have dubbed the “3 Big Ds and Sex, or Disease, Divorce, Death and Sex”. Heavy subjects! Uh oh! I see the deer in headlights now!
We firmly believe that parents should be the source of truth for their children. Children come to us with no knowledge of the world. It is up to us, the most trusted persons they know to provide information that is vital for their confidence and the development of their moral values.
Of course we need to make sure that what we say is not too much than their particular development stage can handle, or be unnecessarily frightening, and don’t volunteer everything. We are not protecting children when we spare the truth – we are actually validating their intuition. They know the difference between a real and an insincere smile, and they know when we are uncomfortable or upset. Their selective listening is in tune when we don’t want them to hear the conversation.
So when the difficult questions are asked, rather than use cute words use the real ones. Yes, like penis, vagina, cancer, and dying. Tell the truth without a lot of discomfort. You will be thankful that you are the source of truth for your children, especially when your child gets older and the conversation is about the lures and perils of drugs, safe sex or the death of a friend.
So practice the answers with your partner, be on the same page, and get ready for some interesting questions!