Tough Talk: Knowing How to Start the Conversation

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“Social media has changed parenting. They’re some of the hardest conversations I’ve ever had.”

Every day kids are inundated with constant coverage of events and topics that may be beyond their understanding.

But it doesn’t stop them from asking the tough questions, maybe before you’re ready to talk about them.

So where can you start?

“It’s important to keep an open mind and not act too shocked,” said Jessica Watt, a counselor at Madison Elementary School. “Our reactions to our children are going to determine whether or not they come to us in the future with more questions.”

Mother and attorney, Teresa Toriseva believes it has everything to do with exposure.

“We like to think it’s not having an effect on our young people, but they see everything we see, and they see it a little differently for sure,” she said. “Some of it is filtered, but mostly it’s there and they do see, you can’t pretend that it isn’t, you just have to talk to your kids about it.”

“Children want to know answers to things in life and if we are not going to provide them with answers, they are going to seek them out,” Jessica said. “If you want your child to have correct information that’s age appropriate, then you’re the one it needs to come from.”

Always start the conversation with learning where your child is with their information. Try these questions:

-Talk to me about what you know about marijuana?

-What do you hear your friends saying at school?

-What have you seen on television and go from there?

Tell them what you need them to know to make safe choices in the situations they’re in.

Another challenge parents may face is finding the “right time” to even start the discussion.

“I think that a lot of times those conversations can come about at the most unexpected times,” said Dr. Patricia Bailey, a clinical psychologist in Wheeling. “Some parents feel the need to kind of designate a time, ‘we’re going to sit down and talk and we’re going to talk about this issue.’ Sometimes that’s more forced and stressful than if you have those casual circumstances that arise.”

Use that as an opportunity not to judge your child but open that door so they feel they can talk to their mom and dad about anything.

Dr Bailey advises it’s important to keep it a discussion, don’t “grill” or “interrogate” them.

“It’s sounds so cliché, but the key is to be open and having the conversations with your kids and listening,” Teresa said. “It’s hard to do sometimes because you want to lecture, and I do that plenty of that I’m sure my kids would say, but I try to listen so I can hear too and learn from their perspective.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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