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The Hard Conversations

Family Adventure


Parents and Guardians wonder about how to talk to kids about tough issues.

It is okay to ask questions and wonder—it means that you care. Here are some suggestions for how to talk to your kids about tough topics.


  • Build a foundation of communication. If we only take time to talk to our kids about the hard stuff instead of what they are doing and what they are interested in, then they will tune out every-time we say, “hey, let’s talk.” In their mind they are thinking, “Oh boy, here we go again...”


  • Listen. When you communicate with your children, help them realize how very important they are to you by truly listening to them and giving them your undivided attention. Don’t worry about your to do list or what you need to do next. Far too often parents and adults listen to kids with one ear towards them and the other one the computer, or on the TV, or on the phone. Kids can tell when we are not truly interested in what they are saying and if they feel that each time they try to talk to us, then they will stop talking.


  • Share interests. Show interest in their interests and share with them what you are interested in and why.


  • Be a parent and a friend. Make sure you are their parent first and friend second, both are important.


  • Don’t jump to conclusions. It’s easy to jump to conclusions, especially when we care about our kids and just want to help them find solutions to their problems. Advice-giving, however, turns into a barrier for listening. Sometimes kids just want to be heard. Kids want to talk. Kids want to be understood and they want boundaries.


  • Involve kids in setting boundaries and expectations. Kids should be included in setting expectations and standards for your . family and in your home, while reminding them that parent(s) get the final say.


  • Begin tough topics with questions, only after building a solid communication platform. Once you have a firm communication foundation in place, then you will be ready to talk about the tough stuff by starting with questions. For example: if you want to talk to your kids about pornography start by asking them, “What do you think about pornography?” or “What do you think about sexting?”  As they share listen and strive to understand without shaming or disagreeing if they have a different opinion or understanding than you. Your kids might say they think pornography is okay or that sexting is fun. (You may not want to hear such answers, but it is important to listen and understand why your child has this opinion) Once you’ve heard your child’s answers and why they think the way they do, then share with them your opinion. You might share why you think pornography is dangerous or why they would want to avoid sexting. Come up with a plan together that you can both live with and implement it. Follow up on your progress.


  • People who love each other can still disagree. Always remember you are talking to a person who is in the process of becoming an adult. You and your child may not always see eye to eye. It is ok to agree to disagree and still love each other. Make sure to communicate to your child that your disagreement with them does not affect your love for them.


  • Consider combined or one-on-one dialogue. There are some talks parents need to have with kids together and some they need to have alone. Kids may relate to one parent better than the other. If you are a single parent don’t be afraid to ask for help form other people you and your kids trust.


  • Be willing to say I’m sorry. Parents can take the first step in saying, “Hey, you know what, I am sorry. I overreacted and I was wrong.” Set the example for your kids on how to engage in healthy relationship repair. Parents and kids are learning how to communicate and engage in healthy relationships. Building relationships is a lifelong process and everyday is a new day to work on our family connections.


Hard topics will become so much easier to talk about when you strive to listen, truly understand, are willing to spare your time, and avoid blame or trying to prove who is wrong or right. Families will experience deeper connection, loving atmospheres, and improved mental health as they focus on sharing their opinions and feelings together in safe, healthy settings.




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