Communcation is the key!
Ditch the fear
I’ve seen it a thousand times over: parents are afraid to talk to their kids. Afraid to speak openly about real life issues such as sex, or drugs, or whatever. Afraid that they may look stupid because they don’t have all the answers. Afraid that if they were to talk about it, it would somehow condone undesired behaviors. Yet the fear isn’t just on the parent’s shoulders.
Kids are afraid to ask questions, worried their questions will upset their parents. Worried they might get in trouble because they asked about sex, or drugs, or whatever. They fear their parents will jump to conclusions based on questions asked, when in reality, it is only curiosity. They fear parents might overreact and blame their friends for “tainting” their precious child, and even might forbid them from hanging out with their friends.
I’m going to say something that might come across as being profound, even though it isn’t, so prepare yourself: Fear is pointless. Fear creates divides and throws up barriers, preventing dialogue and understanding. So my advice is to ditch the fear. Easier said than done, right? That, my dear parents and children, depends entirely upon you. You can either overcome the fear and begin having actual conversations, or you can continue down life’s path completely in the dark.
Speak to truth
It has been said that knowledge is power, and I believe that with all my heart. As tempting as it might be to try and use scare tactics when dealing with certain issues, you are only creating an atmosphere of intrigue. By weaving lies and myths into a well-intentioned story designed to keep your kids away from certain things, chances are that you’ve actually made them even more interested. It is better to stick to facts, and in this day and age, there are far too many reliable resources available. Educate yourself in order to educate your children.
As for you kids out there, life is full of myths and lies. You need to be willing to seek truth, to ask questions, and not simply take what your friend said as factual. There’s a good chance that they don’t actually know what they are talking about, and a greater chance they got their information from another unreliable source. Instead of recycling misinformation, find the facts. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having an inquisitive mind. Use it.
When it is all said and done, truth is an important step to building trust between parents and kids. When there is trust on both ends, it will only strengthen your relationships. And yes, trust is something that that needs to be earned, but more importantly, it is something that needs to be nurtured. Which brings me to the last bit of advice:
Parents and kids need to make time for each other. Just like any relationship, both sides need to be willing to work at it, willing to make it a priority. This can be achieved by sitting down and making some kind of schedule. Set aside times that you both agree upon and stick to it. Don’t make plans that could interfere with the times you have set aside.
Don’t change the time. I know life happens and there are obstacles that will arise, but if you are constantly changing the time you’ve both set aside and are never actually talking… kind of defeats the purpose doesn’t it? Instead, stick to it and be sure to hold each other accountable. Stay consistent, stay focused, and stay connected.