Now, before one actually becomes a parent, one might think that the worst part of parenting is disciplining your kids.
True, punishment can be difficult, and often both the parent and child suffer (children kept in captivity without the aid of electronic gadgetry tend to whine…a lot)
Sooner or later all parents will discover a much more torturous aspect of child rearing.
That’s right, the uncomfortable talk.
Now, for the seasoned care-givers out there, you’re already nodding.
You’re probably even remembering a particularly palm sweating speech.
For the non-parents, or new parents, let me give you some examples; “Drugs are bad, m’Kay?”, “Mommy, why is hair growing in funny places?”, “Where do babies come from?”, “What’s Herpes?”, “What was R Kelly doing in that video?”…you get the idea.
Today, as much as we all know how much I enjoy being light-hearted, I have to step up and put my serious face on.
A friend’s daughter was followed to school yesterday by a person in a red pick-up truck.
The child was frightened, as were her parents.
The police are taking it seriously as well.
Luckily, nothing happened, and everyone is okay.
However, that’s often not the case.
When we were kids there were stories of a red van that would kidnap children.
I remember them from when I was a little kid.
This led to the “Don’t talk To Strangers” speech from my parents.
I remember that speech well.
They were far more serious than usual.
They were also scared…and a little angry, I think.
The initial impression was that I did something wrong.
It was uncomfortable, and a little frightening for me as well.
Hell, I’ll even admit that when I was a young adult and heard a story about a red van suspected in a kidnapping, a bunch of us piled into cars and went hunting for red vans.
Luckily we never found one. (We were operating on mob mentality at that point)
Today, even more so than back then, kidnapping still remains a serious danger.
Not to mention a lurking nightmare for all parents.
This is where things get difficult.
The “Don’t Talk To Strangers” speech is usually the first of the Uncomfortable Talks.
Right there, that leads to performance anxiety.
Which is only complicated by the anger and fear an issue like this stirs up.
Odds are, when you sit down to have this talk (and every damned other Uncomfortable Talk) your stomach will get squirmy, and you’ll lose your train of thought.
As much as you wish you didn’t have to have these talks, they’re still necessary.
Here’s some tips on how to handle these conversations;
– This first tip is extremely important. Make sure the child knows that they did nothing wrong, that they aren’t in trouble
– DON’T WING IT. Sit down beforehand and jot down some notes. Don’t write a speech. It’ll come across as wooden and insincere while you’re reading it. The child won’t take it seriously
– Eye contact is essential, but don’t be overpowering
– Encourage questions and conversation
– If possible, both parents should speak with the child together, it leaves a stronger impression
– Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know”. It won’t make you seem weak.
– Keep a drink handy for each person, and have some snacks available. Your mouth will probably get dry. And fidgety hands often occur in these situations. Plus, food is comforting.
– Make sure they understand you, but, once again, don’t be overpowering
– Let them know that you’re #1 job is their safety
– When you’re done, never forget to tell them that you love them. This may embarrass them a little, but it also still feels good to them
If I haven’t covered everything this link may also help: