As parents when talking about “The Talk” we all mean the same thing: talking to our kids about sex. As far as subjects go, this tops the list as being the most important for reasons from irresponsible procreation to contracting diseases. But what about the other talks you could and/or should be having with your kids?
- The Better Virtues of Manhood Talk – Being a man is about more than being athletic, making sure you got swagger, chasing after money and having the most girls on your arm. Most on this site would argue that none of this makes a man. Is this conversation going on with the little man/men in your home?
- The Be Careful Who Your Friends Are/Choose Your Friends Wisely Talk – This one should be pretty self-explanatory. Telling your children who they should and shouldn’t be friends with is a lost cause and the easiest way to get them to rebel against you. But educating your children on what real friends are so they are able to discern for themselves is perfectly acceptable.
- The How To Be Happy Talk – What is happiness? What does it look like? Can someone else give it to you or take it away? How do your kids define happiness? Do you know?
- The It’s Okay To Fall Down — As Long As You Get Back Up Talk – No one likes to fail but failure gives birth to success. Do your kids know how to lose/not succeed with grace? It’s not about the stumbles along the way, but not allowing the stumbles to prevent you from finishing the race. Do they know how to continue on despite setbacks and disappointment? Is this a discussion in your house?
- The How To Get A Job and How To Manage Your Money Talk – This is the perfect opportunity to explain what you do, why you do it (whatever the reason may be) and how that translates around the house. This is the perfect conversation to introduce work ethics, inquire about career aspirations including college and get your kids into a positive relationship with money – a balanced mix of saving and spending with as little debt accumulation as possible.
- The I’m Human Too Talk – “Yes you saw and heard your mom and I fighting. I’m sorry you had to see that. That’s not the example I’m trying to set. That’s not the way two people who love each other are supposed to act. But sometimes people lose their tempers. I’m not perfect and I don’t expect you to be either. I just want you to know right from wrong and that was wrong.”
- The How To Be Strong, Independent, But Loving Woman Talk – “Being strong doesn’t mean being mean. Being smart doesn’t mean being cold just as little as being accepted means you have to play dumb. And don’t let anyone tell you something is wrong with you because you don’t choose to settle.” Does your little princess understand self-love and self-esteem? Are you explaining these concepts to her.
- The Why And How You Should Care About Your Fellow Human Beings Talk – Although you think you’re special because you have 1,534 friends on Facebook, the world is made up of a few billion people. Are you having conversations with your children about real-world injustice and inequality? As a family do you volunteer or do you speak to your kids about the benefits of volunteering and charity work?
- The There’s More Out There Than Sex Talk – Alcohol, drugs, prescription drugs, legalized marijuana smoked for pleasure, chewing tobacco, cigarettes are all equally destructive and equally accessible by the under 21 set. Are you engaged in an ongoing conversation with your kids about these damaging and sometimes fatal substances so that your kids know better when (not if) they are exposed to situations involving them?
Be careful that you aren’t spending so much time talking at your children about your own fears for them that you neglect to speak to and with them and to their actual needs. A child might be crying inside for help with obesity, but it goes ignored in the face of a parent not wanting some boy to have sex with her. Our job as parents is to equip our children, as best as possible, for the world before they grow up. After that it’s on them. If we don’t do this, or at least don’t try, then we play a role in thwarting the very purpose for their creation — to make a difference (for the better, God willing) in the lives of others or at the very least, one. Growing up my mother told me not to “let these girls get in your pants.” But neither my father nor my mother taught me a thing about managing money. By the time I was in grad school I had nearly ten credit cards and an ungodly amount of debt. What I didn’t have was a girlfriend nor any children. I didn’t get control of my finances until my thirties. Who knows what I could’ve accomplished during my twenties had I not been setting all my money on fire and never having any when I actually needed it. But had it not happened I wouldn’t be sharing my story with you right now.
The sex talk is extremely important. But it’s not the only talk to be had with the kids. Even if you don’t think your kids are listening they are. Better off to advise them than to say nothing at all and let them enter the school of hard knocks. You’ll sleep easier and you never know (because you’ll never know unless they tell you), that random pearl of wisdom you shared just might shine through one day in the right place at the right time and make all the difference in the world in their lives and maybe everyone else’s.
BMWK family, are you having these kinds of conversations with your kids?