If there is one thing that most parents can agree on, parenting teenagers is an uphill task. They are curious by nature and ready to take on the world. As a parent, you can only be a guiding light to help them make informed choices. It may feel awkward to have those conversations when it comes to sensitive topics like relationships, intimacy, consent, sexuality, and substance use. However, being open with your kids allows them to come to you for directions whenever they need help. Here are a few tips on how to get the dialogue on sensitive topics started.
Answer Their Questions Honestly
Your teens will become curious about many things, including your marriage. As a parent, you may feel like you want to sugarcoat things or downplay your answers to protect your kids. However, a relationship with a child is just like any other you have, which is built on respect, trust, and confidence. For instance, if you and your spouse are going through a divorce, expect your teens to have questions. Do not try to lie about what is going on. Take a case of an uncontested divorce. This is where both spouses have agreed on divorce issues, meaning there is no need for extensive negotiation or litigation. Being open about such matters will allow your children to know what is going on and express their feelings on the matter.
Create an Open and Safe Environment for Sharing
Some parents can unintentionally make their teens feel like it is a mistake to ask too many questions. Unfortunately, if that is the kind of space you create, they will not come to you when they have a problem. Allow them to ask questions and let them finish before reacting. Are they curious about sexuality? Give them time to express themselves so that you understand where curiosity is coming from. If you feel that it is right for you to discourage them from doing something, explain this to them but also remind them that you understand the situation.
Initiate Regular Conversations
Always take time to know your kids. Who are their friends? How is school going? Are they having a hard time? These are just examples of the questions you should be asking your kids. You can also watch what they like and get to participate in their little joys. Today, about 14% of US households that watch TV do it over the air, allowing them to enjoy a variety of content. It is important to know what your child is watching or consuming digitally. This will give you an idea of how you can talk to your child in a way they relate to.
Do Not Become Too Emotional in Your Responses
If your teenagers open up to you about something, watch out for your reactions. They shut down when they sense you are overreacting or freaking out. At times it can be hard to keep calm. This is especially if your child has just dropped a piece of unexpected news on you, like wanting to transfer from private to public schools. Most parents opt for private schools because of enhanced opportunities. And while one in every four schools is private, if you find the right one, it can offer your child amazing opportunities. Hearing this information may not be what you want to hear. But before you start reacting, listen to the reasons why your child would want a transfer. Maybe they have heard of better opportunities at the school they want to go to.
Talk Less and Listen More
Before offering advice or opinions, allow your kids to finish taking them. Give them your full attention. Teenagers that feel heard are likely to be more open. Most of them are not looking for solutions. They just want someone to listen to them. Be that person to your child.
These are just some of the ways you can talk to your kids about sensitive topics. Giving them the freedom to express themselves allows them to see you as a parent and a friend rather than just a figure of authority.