Why do we find it so hard to have uncomfortable conversations with our kids?
We’re embarrassed by the topics
No-one had the conversation with us
We’re worried we’ll say the wrong thing
We’re rubbish at communicating
We don’t know enough about the topic
Our values, beliefs, and attitudes make it hard for us
Our past experiences have tainted our present reality
We’re scared to be vulnerable
So basically, we’re (unconsciously) lugging around baggage that’s (potentially) getting in the way of us having crucial conversations with our kids that could empower them to make better choices. We’re also unknowingly teaching them that by not talking about things that make us uncomfortable, that it’s ok to ‘avoid’ things. Avoidance can create misunderstandings, shame, stigma, and a lot more issues down the track.
Imagine if we avoided talking to our kids about ‘farts’. Mainly because we’re embarrassed by them. Then our kid goes to someone’s house and farts, it’s acknowledged, openly talked about, and normalised. How is our kid going to feel? Probably embarrassed and full of shame. All because we avoided mentioning something that everyone does and is perfectly natural.
Kids are curious. Kids are like sponges. Kids learn things from somewhere eventually, what we need to make sure of, is that they’re learning appropriate stuff at the appropriate age in an appropriate way. Problem is, I don’t know about you, but we don’t always know what or when appropriate is!
So, to be fair, it’s not always easy!
Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, we’ve got to put all that aside and show up for our kids. We’re role models and It’s up to us to get the conversations started.
On the upside, remember that they’re not loaded with past traumas or hurt from previous experiences, ideally, they’re hearing this stuff for the first time, and providing you get onto it early enough, they’re still beautifully naive, innocent, and vulnerable. Which means it’s even more important that we get comfortable with the uncomfortable.
The number one rule when talking to kids about something uncomfortable is to not project our crap onto them.
Rule number two, be present - show up with your whole self so they feel held, validated, seen, and heard.
Let them ask questions - get them involved - it’s not a lecture.
Share your fears and vulnerabilities around the subject.
Use stories to relay information, or talk about something that happened to a ‘friend’ of yours.
The bottom line is if you’re not having the uncomfortable conversations with your kids, someone else will, and that someone else might not be as well ‘qualified’ as you because they might be Dr. Google or the girl/boy that lives in Number 10 that just got busted for dealing.
In my experience, all the people I’ve spoken to wished that someone (a parent or a teacher) had had more open and honest conversations with them when they were younger. They wish that the uncomfortable stuff got spoken about at school in a way that was real, authentic, and supportive.
If you’re not having the uncomfortable conversations with your kids, who is, and what are the consequences of that happening?