5 TIPS FOR DADS WHEN TALKING WITH THEIR KIDS
My son is twelve and my daughter is fifteen so, to be honest… it often surprises me when I hear some of the things my kids talk about.
But what surprises me, even more, is how inadequately prepared many dads are – including me! – when it comes to talking with their kids when they have questions about "sensitive" topics like sex.
Balancing wisdom with discretion is a full-time endeavour, but talking with our kids should not be that hard. We just have to make sure we handle these conversations in ways that are beneficial instead of destructive.
So, with that in mind, I want to give you 5 tips for talking with your kids:
I know that’s a slogan for deodorant, but when you talk to your kids about anything, especially sensitive topics, you can’t let on that you may be feeling some discomfort.
You need to exude "coolness."
If you want your kids to have enough confidence in you to ask the things you really want them to ask, then they need to know dad’s not going to freak out.
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Being cool doesn’t mean being fake. Listen, it’s only a matter of time until your kids ask you something that you really don’t want to answer... like my daughter did last summer when she asked if I ever struggled with porn myself.
That was a rough moment 😬 ...but I was honest with her.
These are the times we need to choose honesty over image. We need to display integrity and not just pretend it.
Because kids respect honesty WAY more than authority.
Honesty may hurt, but it will pay HUGE dividends when it comes to building a relationship with your kids.
Machiavelli once said that it was better to be feared than loved, and while that type of thinking may work in movies like A Bronx Tale, it’s a terrible method of parenting.
Don’t get me wrong. I want my kids to have a healthy amount of respect when I tell them not to do something, but only when it comes to certain situations like… "Get out of the street a car is coming!"
But when I tell them that looking at porn or having sex before they get married is not a wise choice, I don’t want them to respond out of fear. That won’t work in the long run.
Do's and don’ts are no match for whys and wherefores.
You aren’t going to scare your kids into making good decisions. You need to walk with them through it.
It’s important for your kids to be able to talk to you, but it’s just as important (if not more) for you to talk to them.
I’m not saying to be a smotherer who constantly barrages them with questions about every little detail of their lives. Just show a little interest in what’s going on in their little world.
Let them know you care. That they matter.
Show them that talking about all areas of life is not a bad thing. That open dialogue is valuable and something they should pursue, not run from.
This way, hopefully, you’ll have the opportunity to speak into sensitive topics before they hear bad information from someone else (like their friends).
My wife and I always tell our kids the same thing: nothing is off-limits.
You wanna talk video games? Cool
You wanna talk about poop and farts? Solid.
You wanna talk about sex? Yes, let’s do this!
I know it’s tempting to shelter our children, but if they think you have boundaries on conversational topics they’ll still talk about it … just not with you.
Parents, the key to having open dialogue with your kids is simple:
You need to dialogue. (i.e. talk)
You need to be open.
There. Easy as that.
Talking to your children about stuff is not an art form that requires years of training. It’s not a secret formula.
Be ready to talk about whatever comes your way.
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