One of the most difficult things for me as a mother is to watch my kids slowly lose their innocence as they grow.
When they were babies, it seemed like talking about all those difficult topics was many years away. But as every mom knows, those years pass by in the blink of an eye.
There are so many difficult topics to discuss with our kids as they grow: Puberty, Racism, Disabilities, Divorce, Illness, Death, Stranger Danger, Online Safety and Bullying to name a few. And it's hard to watch our kids come to the realization that the world is not nearly as perfect and happy as it once seemed.
These topics are difficult to talk about, but they need to be discussed. No matter how awkward it may be, establishing an open and honest line of communication during the early years is incredibly important.
If I could give any bit of advice on the topic, it would be this: There's no right way to discuss these things with your children. Because they are YOUR children and you know them best. As parents, we have to determine whether answering the question as simply as possible is the right way to go or if the topic needs a thorough discussion. It truly does depend on the age and the situation. The only thing I DO believe is that those difficult to answer questions should not be ignored.
Grant and I are honest with our kids. We always have been and we always will be. We keep our answers simple, but we never ignore a question when it's asked or ignore an opportunity to discuss something important with them. Because of that, our kids trust us and come to us with their questions, no matter how awkward they may be. I truly hope that continues into the teenage years!
Once upon a time, those topics and questions were so simple. We quickly went from "Mom, why is that person in a wheelchair?" to "I know what S-E-X is." WHAT?!? I'm not ready for this!
We've had quite a few doozies lately!
Last Thursday, Dylan had "THE" talk at school. He already knew a few basics, but this was the in depth discussion in health class. When he came home from school, I immediately asked him how it went. His face turned bright red and he exclaimed "It was SO embarrassing! My gym teacher kept using the word testes!!!"
He went on to tell me about some of the discussion and how his classmates reacted. I told him he could come to me or his dad with any questions and he said, "Thanks, Mom. But I think I know enough about testes now to write a book!"
While not quite as funny or life changing, Lily and I had to have a discussion about death recently. She was only 1 when her grandfather passed away. A few days ago, she walked up to me and started telling me about all the things she and PapPap would do when he came back to life. She then asked me when he was coming back from heaven.
At first, I just wanted to ignore the question. Just thinking about breaking the news to her that he wasn't coming back broke my heart. But I sat down with her, explained as simply as I could how it worked, and ended the discussion by looking at pictures of her PapPap and talking about the hilarious things he did. By the end of the conversation, she was smiling and laughing and said, "That PapPap was a funny guy!"
Liam is the easiest of our kids right now. He doesn't have any questions other than "What?" His only concerns are what's for dinner and what he can destroy! Like I said...easy!
Unfortunately, he will probably have to deal with bullying at some point in his life. And I'm not quite sure how I will explain to the little boy who captured our hearts exactly why people would make fun of him for something he was born with. But we'll face it when we get there.
For now, he's surrounded by family and friends who don't care about abilities, gender, or the color of your skin. And that's how it should be!
I saved the biggest doozy for last!
Lexie recently learned about that time of the month. There was no escaping it, so I figured I had to prepare her for what was to come. When I finished, she stared at me and said, "Well, that's just a joke, isn't it? How is this possibly fair? COME ON!" (She isn't wrong!)
After dealing with those three topics in less than 2 weeks, I thought we were in the clear for a while. HA! Hahahahaha!
Our family gathered tonight to watch a show on Netflix, and on the episode, the S-E-X word came up at one point. Lexie was sitting between Grant and I. Suddenly, she blurted out, "I know what S-E-X is!" My eyes met Grant's over the top of her head and I swear, he looked as shell-shocked as I felt.
A few seconds of silence passed, and Grant finally broke the silence. In as calm of a voice as he could muster, he asked, "Oh yeah? What do you know about it?"
She hid her face, giggled and said, "It's way too embarrassing and gross to talk about."
Now...leaving it at that would have been the easier option (for us). But exactly WHAT was she hearing from those kids at school?!? I can only imagine. So we took the plunge. And suddenly, both of our kids are schooled in where babies come from. Thank goodness we still have the innocence of Phase Two (Lily and Liam)!
Can we get a break for a while now?!?
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Most of you know about my love for Netflix! Being a part of the Netflix #StreamTeam is an incredible opportunity. I loved the company prior to being on the Stream Team, and my love only continues to grow!
One of the (many) things I love about Netflix is the fact that they have so many shows that tackle tough topics. There really is something for kids of all ages to relate to!
For the younger crowd, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is a GREAT option. I truly can't think of a better show for toddlers and preschoolers to watch. Daniel Tiger tackles everything from Potty Training to going to school to sharing to helping others to dealing with emotions. The episodes cover an incredible amount of topics and it's done in a way that's easy for young children to understand. The show really made an impression on Lily. She still walks around singing the song "Grow-oh-nups come back!" and likes to tell Liam about the things that Daniel Tiger taught her. Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is one of those shows that helps reinforce those valuable life lessons!
For the Tween crowd, it's a bit tougher to find a current show that tackles all those tough topics that kids are dealing with in a realistic way. I truly believe that shows from my childhood do a better job at that than current shows. I decided to introduce my kids to The Wonder Years. Now, as a parent, I'm so impressed with the topics that this show covers! Boy Meets World was another show I loved when I was young, so we started watching Girl Meets World. It has more realistic Storylines than other current tween shows! We love watching the episodes together!
As for teenagers, I'm not quite sure what to recommend just yet. Because right now, at this very moment, I am DREADING the teen years! I guess we'll conquer that hurdle when we get to it, just as we have with every hurdle we have faced. For now, we'll enjoy the fact that our two older kids still giggle over the "S" word and think it's disgusting!
Adults aren't immune to tough topics! There are so many things that we have to face that are unavoidable. Parenthood is a fantastic show that includes just about every difficult topic you can imagine. The best part is that it is done in a very realistic, non-Hollywood way! It really is a show that makes you feel every emotion imaginable!
New on Netflix for Kids, Tweens, Teens and Families:
How do you tackle those tough topics with your kids?
DISCLOSURE: As a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam I am provided with a subscription to Netflix and I also receive other products and exclusive information. All opinions are my own.