Mom waits nervously in the car. Today is the day she has been planning for ages: the day she has a tough talk with her child about the big family secret. They have a date set up and Mom has planned this out meticulously. She wonders if she has waited too long and how her daughter might react.
Being honest and upfront about difficult topics feels really complicated. We want to know how a child will react to the news about their gay uncles, their adoption, sex, and all kinds of other things. Our knee jerk reaction is to plan a long, detailed conversation about the issue. And then we put it off; until they are older, until they will understand, until, until, until.
BUT this isn’t the best thing for kids and families. Learn to present life lessons so children will assimilate them more fully, understand them more maturely and come to you as a resource and outlet for their feelings.
4 Steps To Honesty In Tough Talks
- Be honest with yourself. This subject may upset you because of your feelings/background/beliefs. But your child has the opportunity to understand this from a new perspective, with your help.Thinking through what you believe helps you drop off your own baggage and present an integrated understanding of the tough topic.
- Be simple. Complicated, elaborate lectures do not communicate honestly. Children, and most adults,need small amounts of information repeated often to really get the deepest meaning out of something. Memorizing important beliefs, sayings, and quotes is commonly used to teach life lessons.
- Be brief. 10 words or less and you still have their attention. Anything longer and you will lose most people, so focus on short, repeatable things.
- Be clear. Think about what you actually need to tell them and tell them only that.
These steps work for adoption, death of family members, tragedy, and other types of family information. When children are younger, they accept your understanding of the events or ‘truths’ and are more likely simply go with the flow. Waiting until they are older means risking a loss of trust or a break in attachment. They may have difficulty accepting the perspective the family has and experience more turmoil.
Need help understanding your own feelings about something you need to be honest about? Talk with me. I have 17 years of experience as a counselor for children and parents but I’m also a mom of three. If I haven’t had the conversation with my kids, I may have helped someone else have the conversation with theirs.
Christy Graham works as the head cheerleader of Acorn Counseling Education Services. She provides training for parents, child care workers, and therapists who work with children. Her years of experience with children and families allows her to teach evidence based approaches to life’s biggest challenges. Her family keeps her humble and ready to learn. Call 940-222-8703 for a consultation on your family or simply schedule an appointment online. Christy would love to help you implement these 4 Steps in your situation.