We love our questions posts, and we’ve noticed that a lot of them tend to be about talking about a particularly challenging topic with your kids. We’ve also noticed that even though the topic changes, the advice is usually similar — so it seems that it would be helpful to collect some of our favorite, most relevant bits of advice in one place. It doesn’t mean these questions are no longer welcome, it just means that we may have a new spot to refer you if you send one in that’s similar to what’s been on the site before.
I think that it’s important to make it an ongoing dialogue, and to balance that with really listening to what your child has to say. I often felt like my mother wasn’t listening to me, and was only interested in telling me about her stories. I ultimately stopped telling her about the things that were going on in my life, which meant that I went through some pretty serious stuff without the support that I know she wanted to give me. — How and when do you tell your kids your dirty little secrets?
I talk about things at the dinner table that I have read on the internet. For instance, I would say, “Hey I read this article about talking about differences between people, like if someones has different religious beliefs or if someone has physical disabilities. If you had never seen someone with a ________________, what would you think? Would you have questions? Would you feel comfortable asking them or not? What do you think?”
I think that these conversations are pretty easy once kids get to school age. Before then, I usually just wait until something happens to bring it to the child’s attention. — How do you talk to your kids about differences?
Best approach I’ve heard:
“Look for the helpers. The day it happened, we were already thinking about Mister Rogers, and his saying that “when bad things happen, look for the helpers.” Good people will always help. Think about how many people rushed in to help, gave blood, looked for people, put up fliers, volunteered in zillions of ways, prayed, cried, listened. Think about how many of us are still helping now. Yes, bad people do bad things, but good people pick up the pieces and help.”
Obviously changing it to “sometimes bad and scary things happen, but good people pick up the pieces and help.” — How can I explain scary events and tragedies to my toddler?
In the past when there have been posts on the theme of “How do I tell my kid about…?” questions on Offbeat Mama, people offer something along the lines of “Make sure you don’t offer more information than they’re really asking for/needing/ready to understand.” For example, I thought about how I would tell my daughter that she doesn’t have any grandpas, long before she wondered, but decided to wait to talk about it until she noticed. At around 2.5 she noticed. She didn’t so much ask as she did tell me, that she didn’t have any grandpa’s. I confirmed that, “You’re right, you don’t have any grandpa’s. Some kids have grandpa’s and some don’t.” She seemed satisfied, so I didn’t launch into the lecture I had brewing. It’s an imperfect science. … I know that can be unsettling, when sometimes kids just want one real, infallible truth, but I think it’s important to let them experience that uneasiness, and get used to the idea that opinions don’t make facts. — How can I explain where my deceased daughter is to our future children without bringing up religion?
I don’t think it has to be a big sit down discussion, certainly not when the the kids are little. A lot of it can be little, daily things like “this is one of daddy’s sad times. He will feel better in a few days (Or whatever the appropriate time scale is).” I don’t have kids yet, but I do have mood disorders (And a family history of mood disorders), so take my advice in that light, but my suggestion would be: Give it a label they can understand. Tell them what is expected of them, if anything. And reassure them that things are still ok. Or, at least, will be. — How do you decide when to tell your kid about your personality disorder(s)?
Which advice questions and answers have been your favorites — what advice has really stood out to you?