Let’s face it, having sex-related topics, including relationships, STDs and pregnancy with my tweens is always an uncomfortable topic for me. Ironic right, as my profession is indeed counseling to adolescents and their families. But it is a positive parenting practice with hopes to have a positive factor when my girls’ have to make choices. I still feel as though they are too young to be exposed to that stuff. But I also know it’s 2018, times have changed and I’m nowhere near ready to be a grandmother or deal with other issues tied to young teens and sex! So, no topic is beyond reproach.
“Morning Chats with Trenye” and “Table Talk” are two forms of communication I use with my twins throughout the week. I established these forms of communication for several reasons. But more importantly, to let the twins know they can feel comfortable talking with me about anything. I can remember the questions in my head around my pre-teen years and the resources I used for knowledge on different information, surely misinformed me on several occasions. And of course, back then sex-related topics were not open for discussions.
Morning Chats with Trenye are our brief morning chats, typically while the twins are eating breakfast and I am sipping my coffee (I am not a breakfast person). We generally talk about their plans for the day, stressors and a rundown of after-school activities. Every morning I like to check-in with the twins to get a feel of their emotions. I want to address any barriers that prevent them from giving their best throughout each day.
Table Talk was created for our heavy conversations. Ideally, we have Table Talk while eating dinner. There may be times where I may not eat dinner with the twins, but I will always sit at the dinner table (that is our weekday routine). During this time, I have had the opportunity to learn so much about the twins, their peers, school drama and their insecurities. Generally, I let the twins lead the topic of the night. There have been times where I felt an important conversation needed to take place. With my job, I hear, read and see a lot. More recently, I opened the discussion to sex-related topics, including sextortion. I always keep it real with my girls’.
I have found that when parents build a nonjudgement zone for their children, their children will connect and communicate openly. The following are ways to connect and communicate with your teens (or any child).
- When children feel a connection, they are more receptive to the lesson we want to teach. Connecting with the teens means listening, being honest, sharing their experiences, being present, and guiding them through their experience.
- Connecting with teens reinforces trust, empathy, healthy relationships, etc. therefore, helps them feel more secure, more skilled at making good decisions and interacting with their peers.
- Connecting with teens deepens the relationship with them. And in turn, both parties feel comfortable discussing heavy topics.
- Communicate and don’t preach. Open the dialogue for questions and to see what your teens know.
- Model the behaviors you want your teen to exhibit. Your own choices will serve as the foundation for your teen.
- The conversation should be age appropriate, with facts. Don’t use scare tactics. Provide examples from real life experiences, social media, etc.
Parenting teenagers are one of the most challenging jobs ever! Teens will push boundaries because they are learning to make positive or negative decisions about things, which results in real consequences. Having a healthy relationship during the teenage years is more important than ever. Be an active parent that uses positive parenting practices to engage in your teens life.
What tips have you used to engage with your children? What are your daily routines to communicate with your child?