Real Talk

Welcome to the March 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Tough Conversations
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have spoken up about how they discuss complex topics with their children. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Real Talk:

For anyone who knows me in real life, you all are acutely aware that I speak my truth without sugarcoating much. I am direct, honest, and always willing to share my views. I believe in the importance of communication and conversation. Without it, so much of life is lost and wasted.

My observations of parents and children have led me to what I consider a rather unsettling conclusion. Parents seem unwilling, incapable, or uncomfortable telling their children the truth when it comes to tough topics. There are certainly a myriad of reasons as to why but the bottom line is that parents often avoid certain topics through outright dishonesty.

This mama doesn’t play that game. No matter how uncomfortable the conversation might be, I stand behind my belief that it is better to be honest and support your child through his or her reaction to the honesty than to avoid, lie about, or ignore the truth.

I get that certain situations in life might be too complex for a young child to understand. I mean, I am not going to orate on the complexities of the U.S. government’s involvement in the sad state of our economy when Tiny asks why someone is homeless. But I will and I have told her the truth. Sometimes people cannot find jobs. Sometimes people have health issues that no one will help them with. Sometimes people make bad decisions and lose everything. Even at 3 years old, Tiny understands this. She will often ask me some clarification questions like “where do they sleep? Do homeless people go to the bathroom? Shower? Eat?” I answer these as best I can making sure that Tiny develops a sense of empathy towards their situation. I also use it as an opportunity to help her appreciate everything she is blessed with in life.

But questions about the homeless are not the meat of the tuff stuff. No. Questions about why two men are kissing (when that is not something Tiny sees often), questions about death, questions about anatomy, questions about sex…those are the tough questions.

Tiny is inquisitive as was I as a child. My parents were always forthcoming with me at a very early age and I am this way with Tiny. When she asks about her body parts, I give it to her straight. I use the correct verbiage. No cutesy nick-names. When she asks what they are there for, I tell her in terms she can understand at her age. I have no reason to lie to her or to be embarrassed about her interest in the human body. I mean, we all have one right? Men have men parts and women have women parts. (Someday I will address those individuals with both male and female parts). But right now, there is no reason to make Tiny feel self-conscious about her body or to make her feel like it is something to be ashamed of because society is all hung up about the human body.

Recently I took Tiny to San Francisco for the day. We were all over the City, including the Castro district which is home to many in the gay and lesbian community. Tiny saw two men kissing. Like, major kissing. More than Rasta Daddy and I typically do in front of Tiny. As we walked by, Tiny looks at me and asked, “why are those two daddies kissing?” Not only did I giggle but the two men got a chuckle as well. My response? “Because they love each other” which was an assumption on my part. I mean, it could have been the start of a one-night-stand. Who knows. But anyway, Tiny didn’t reply so I asked her if it was different to see two men kissing and not a mommy and daddy kissing. She said it was so I told her that sometimes two men who love each other decide to be together and the same can happen for two women. I also continued on with a short explanation about people are people and it does not matter what gender someone is. Love is love just like friendship is friendship. And guess what? Tiny understood and appreciated my honesty. And of course for the rest of the trip, anytime she saw two men even remotely near each other she would ask me if they were in love. Ha!

From where I sit as a parent, honesty and open dialogues (developmentally appropriate of course) are the crux of a parent-child relationship. It builds trust, respect, and a comfort level that is seemingly rarer these days. No matter how tough the question is or how uncomfortable I am with it due to my personal hang-ups or views, I will also respond with honestly and sincerity. My child deserves nothing less.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon March 12 with all the carnival links.)

  • A Difficult Conversation — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is keeping her mouth shut about a difficult topic.
  • Discussing Sexuality and Objectification With Your Child — At Authentic Parenting, Laura is puzzled at how to discuss sexuality and objectification with her 4-year-old.
  • Tough Conversations — Kadiera at Our Little Acorn knows there are difficult topics to work through with her children in the future, but right now, every conversation is a challenge with a nonverbal child.
  • Real Talk — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama explains why there are no conversation topics that are off limits with her daughter, and how she ensures that tough conversations are approached in a developmentally appropriate manner.
  • From blow jobs to boob jobs and lots of sex inbetweenMrs Green talks candidly about boob jobs and blow jobs…
  • When Together Doesn’t Work — Ashley at Domestic Chaos discusses the various conversations her family has had in the early stages of separation.
  • Talking To Children About Death — Luschka at Diary of a First Child is currently dealing with the terminal illness of her mother. In this post she shares how she’s explained it to her toddler, and some of the things she’s learned along the way.
  • Teaching 9-1-1 To Kids — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling talks about the importance of using practical, age-appropriate emergency scenarios as a springboard for 9-1-1 conversations.
  • Preschool Peer PressureLactating Girl struggles to explain to her preschooler why friends sometimes aren’t so friendly.
  • Frank Talk — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis unpacks a few conversations about sexuality that she’s had with her 2-year-old daughter, and her motivation for having so many frank discussions.
  • When simple becomes tough — A natural mum manages oppositional defiance in a toddler at Ursula Ciller’s Blog.
  • How Babies are Born: a conversation with my daughter — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger tries to expand her daughter’s horizons while treading lightly through the waters of pre-K social order.
  • Difficult Questions & Lies: 4 Reasons to Tell The Truth — Ariadne of Positive Parenting Connection shares the potential impact that telling lies instead of taking the time to answer difficult questions can have on the parent-child relationship.
  • Parenting Challenges–when someone dies — Survivor at Surviving Mexico writes about talking to her child about death and the cultural challenges involved in living in a predominantly Catholic nation.
  • Daddy Died — Breaking the news to your children that their father passed away is tough. Erica at ChildOrganics shares her story.
  • Opennesssustainablemum prepares herself for the day when she has to tell her children that a close relative has died.
  • Embracing Individuality — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy addressed a difficult question in public with directness and honesty.
  • Making the scary or different okay — Although she tries to listen more than she talks about tough topics, Jessica Claire of Crunchy-Chewy Mama also values discussing them with her children to soften the blow they might cause when they hit closer to home.
  • Talking to My Child About Going Gluten Free — When Dionna at Code Name: Mama concluded that her family would benefit from eliminating gluten from their diet, she came up with a plan to persuade her gluten-loving son to find peace with the change. This is how they turned the transition to a gluten-free lifestyle into an adventure rather than a hardship.
  • How Does Your Family Explain Differences and Approach Diversity? — How do you and your family approach diversity? Gretchen of That Mama Gretchen shares her thoughts at Natural Parents Network and would like to hear from readers.
  • Discussing Difficult Topics with Kids: What’s Worked for Me — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares parenting practices that enabled discussions of difficult topics with her (now-adult) children to be positive experiences.
  • Tough Conversations — Get some pointers from Jorje of Momma Jorje on important factors to keep in mind when broaching tough topics with kids.
  • Protect your kids from sneaky people — Lauren at Hobo Mama has cautioned her son against trusting people who’d want to hurt him — and hopes the lessons have sunk in.
  • Mommy, What Does the Bible Say? — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work works through how to answer a question from her 4-year-old that doesn’t have a simple answer.
  • When All You Want for Them is Love: Adoption, Abandonment, and Honoring the Truth — Melissa at White Noise talks about balancing truth and love when telling her son his adoption story.

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  1. says

    Absolutely! What’s been helping us get across the concept of gay marriage better has been playing Sims Freeplay together. 😉 We have multiple gay and lesbian couples in our game, with children. I love that it’s being normalized for him.

  2. says

    ITA :) Kieran and I had a new conversation about gay marriage the other day. I shared with him an article about a gay couple that adopted a baby, and 12 yrs later, after NY allowed gay marriage, the judge that gave them the baby also performed their marriage ceremony. I got all teary and he asked why, and I said that not every state allows two people who love each other to get married, if they are a man and a man or a woman and a woman. I said I was happy that some states DO allow it. I waited for him to ask more questions, but he let the topic go. I know that he heard, though, because he brought it up again a few days later. So many tough conversations are like that, though – kids take some time to digest, then come back to discuss more later. It makes it a little easier to be honest :)

  3. Janine Fowler says

    Glad to hear it! So disgusted by the current trend of parents lying to their kids. I especially hate how it’s constantly glamorized in the media nowadays. Lying to your children is not cute!

  4. says

    **stands up and applauds** I loved this post and I wish you’d be my mother LOL! I particularly loved the insight about it being better to help our kids through their own reactions to the truth than to lie. I’d never really thought of it like that before – thanks for sharing your wisdom and an insight into how life looks in your home when those challenging topics come up.

    Rae aka mrs green

  5. says

    You and I are similar in many ways. This is just another one. I remember when Tyler thought it was HILARIOUS that her uncle liked to kiss her “uncle,” even when she had a daddy and TWO mommies at home (who were openly affectionate, though we didn’t “make out” in front of kids, either). It amused me how she didn’t bat an eye at one situation whereas the other was funny to her.

  6. says

    It’s so important to be fully truthful and open from the very start. Children KNOW when adults are being less-than-honest with them, and if it becomes commonplace in a relationship, that’s what they’ll give back – which is really frightening when the truth becomes potentially-life-changingly important (say, as teenagers). I want my children always to be able to talk to me openly, so I give them the same respect.
    Thanks for your post. <3

  7. says

    It’s so important to be fully truthful and open from the very start. Children KNOW when adults are being less-than-honest with them, and if it becomes commonplace in a relationship, that’s what they’ll give back – which is really frightening when the truth becomes potentially-life-changingly important (say, as teenagers). I want my children always to be able to talk to me openly, so I give them the same respect.
    Thanks for your post. <3

  8. says

    Truth is important at our house. We are hoping that the number of different people we know, of all sorts of orientations, will make this subject a non-issue at our house, but only time will tell.

    Of course, that doesn’t block all the messages from families and caregivers to our son, like, “oh when you grow up you’ll marry a girl”…

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