Talking to Your Kids about Hard Things: Drugs, Sex, and Natural Disasters
Being Willing To Talk Makes Kids More Likely To Ask
If you are a parent, or anyone who comes into contact with children, you have probably heard how important it is to talk to kids about everything--especially the topics you'd rather avoid, like drugs and sex. The idea is that the more you discuss the hard topics, the less mysterious and frightening they will be, and ultimately, the more likely it is that the children will approach you when they have life-altering questions.
Let Kids Voice Their Fears About Current Events
The recent disaster in Japan has brought up yet another topic that children will need to discuss, whether you know it or not. Chances are, that even if they aren't asking questions, the children you know wonder about what goes on in the event of a huge earthquake and tsunami. Sure, they may have drills at school, but this is real, and it is very frightening. Talking about the events in Japan and elsewhere in the world is one way of helping your children deal with their feelings. It's important for them to know it's all right to bring up scary stuff.
Your Library Can Help
Here are a couple of resources you can check out to help you navigate these unsettling conversations.
- Just Tell Me What to Say: Sensible Tips and Scripts for Perplexed Parents by Betsy Brown Braun
The author (who is the mother of triplets) offers advice for parents of children ages 2 to 6 in discussing topics from death to sex to world crises.
- Books to Grow With: A Guide to Using the Best Children's Fiction for Everyday Issues and Tough Challenges by Cheryl F. Coon
This is an annotated guide to 500 children's fiction books that deal with issues kids face, including illness, divorce, bullies, moving, and other fears.
Pat Oey is a Youth Services Intern at Atherton (with remote work in Brisbane) who wishes that certain topics had not been avoided while she was growing up.