In my last post, I talked about meeting your kids where they are in their own interests and finding common ground on which to build conversation. The second way that you can reach out to your children and get them to share some information with you is let them know that no topic is off-limits in your house. Let’s put it this way – if mom and dad cringe over a topic that all of their peers discuss openly, who do you think your kids will go to for their information?
2. Put on your poker face. The quickest way to get your kids to stop talking to you is to have an over-the-top reaction to something they have confided in you or are curious about. This includes sex, drugs, alcohol, cheating, lies, hasty actions they now regret, and so on. You are allowed to be appalled on the inside, but I promise you, if you swallow hard, look your kids in the eyes, and deal with whatever they’ve just told you calmly, they will come to you again and again in the future. Right now, they are gauging exactly what they can and cannot say to you. They want to talk to you, but they need to know that they can without immediately paying the price via parental rage or worse, punishments.
I used to tell my kids that yes, there would be consequences to all of their actions, but no, I would never punish them for their honesty. I made it my mission to never have them regret coming to me. I’ll never forget the day that my very young daughter approached me about something she had heard from a friend and this thing called “sex.” Although I couldn’t believe this was happening at such a young age, I braced myself and answered her questions. It was actually a quick and blessedly general conversation that didn’t require specifics or squirming on my part. It was over in minutes. But in the end, she smiled, relaxed, and threw her arms around me, hugging me tightly.
“Thank you, mommy,” she said. I knew if I asked you would tell me the truth.”
And that was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
Let your kids come to you without fear. Remember that their world is different from yours and if they trust you to share it, you are very blessed.