How to Have Hard Conversations With Your Kids
July 13, 2020
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Every parent wants to insulate their kid from the world and preserve their innocence, especially from glaring injustices and tragedies. Racial injustice and inequality, suicide, death, disasters, and pandemics are just a few of the tough subjects you may have to broach. Not only these, but the infamous talks about puberty and romantic relationships loom large as your kids age. Learn how to have hard conversations with your kids that go well by reading these tips.

Don’t Lecture—Include Them

Though you have a lot to say, these talks should be true dialogues. Talking at your kids threatens to overwhelm them with information they aren’t ready for. To give them more control, listen. Pay attention to what facet of the topic interests them the most now and speak to that.

Refrain from shifting away from their questions. Usually, their curiosity will fuel a good back-and-forth.

Understand Their Feelings, Give Action Steps

Given the extreme seriousness of discussing certain things, expect their extreme feelings. For instance, talking about the COVID-19 pandemic may make them really fearful, and introducing them to the idea of homelessness may induce anger. Validate their feelings and sit with them in that fear or anger. Build up your empathy for them as they realize your world is broken and reflect back on how you felt at their age during similar circumstances.

After doing this, if appropriate, give them actionable steps to respond. If they’re scared of the coronavirus, educate them thoroughly on how washing their hands and wearing a mask keeps the virus at bay. If they want to do something about homelessness or another social issue, there are innumerable ways they can give back to the community, including delivering much-needed donations or volunteering.

However they respond to a hard topic, being able to respond at all keeps them from thinking too much about it and channels their energies productively.

Encourage Future Questions

Another element to having hard conversations with your kids is encouraging future questions. Give them space after talking initially—tough issues such as racial inequality are disorienting at first—and tell them to bring it up again anytime they want.

Placing the power in their hands builds their trust in you and shows you’re ready to treat them seriously as you talk through serious things. That said, you know them better than anyone. Probe their feelings if they react strongly to seeing something on TV or otherwise need help processing an event.

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