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Family Matters

Conversations in the Midst of Chaos

May 1st, 2013

By: Justin Hubert

Amidst a burdensome family schedule, commitments, activities, the regular grind of life, meals, laundry, house cleaning, and the dog, often we are so busy with life we miss what is really important. Before we know it, all the kids are in bed, the house is quiet again (except for the whirring of the dishwasher and the washing machine) we sit down, let out a sigh and for the first moment in a while we get to think.

Like most, you probably run through the gamut of to-do items, and clear those off the list before the deeper thoughts of life come to mind; questions like, how am I doing as a parent, did I even think about my spouse today, where am I going, and when I get there, who is going to be with me? Often we are so busy with life, that our sense of connection with others has been lost amidst the chaos.  Deeper regrets, (you could call them fears) often emerge on the very edge of our thoughts, but there is this over whelming feeling of “I don’t want to go there.”

Fear in parenting or relationships isn’t the same as fear in a dark back alley of an unfamiliar city, and yet our response is often the same – GET THE HECK OUTTA HERE. In relationships – especially with our children - we need to carefully, and warmly move towards the very nature of our fears; we need to unpackage them through inviting conversations that build trust, and ensure that our kids feel safe in our presence.

Conversation is powerful. Conversation is continually shifting human history, media, newspapers, web, Twitter, and all the back room talks, the policies, the shaped beliefs. Humanity is continually moving on the heels of conversations. The same is true of your kids, and the lives unfolding before them. As parents, we need to be a part of that conversation.

What do you need to be talking about? For starters, sex, pornography, ecstasy, sexual orientation, Red Bull and alcohol, cutting, suicide, safety on the internet and a whole lot more. 

When do you need to start talking to them? Now. But My boy is only five.  Well, then have the five-year-old version of the sex talk (private places – only a doctor touches…) have the 10 year old version of a sexual orientation talk, have this conversation at supper, in the van, some place where it can just be ‘one more thing to talk about,’ in the midst of a life that has so much to talk about.

Have these conversations in such a way as you would talk about sports, or a new scientific discovery. Often parents get so wound up in our own fears and “inabilities” that we inadvertently take ourselves out of the conversation, before the conversation even begins. But, what happens when we take ourselves out of the conversation with our kids regarding these topics? In essence, someone else then, has that conversation with our child and influences their future. You don’t have to have a psych degree to talk to your own child about suicide, or their own sexuality, you need to have confidence and the understanding that what kids need is a safe place to have these conversations. 

Suicide is a hard topic to talk about with kids, especially when a recent event has affected them directly in their peer group. I’m encouraging the parents around me to begin these conversations early. Why? I like to think about it as ‘opening the door’ to a future, deeper, conversation. Prepare yourself not to have one talk with your son about sex, but rather, an entire lifetime of conversations with you on his sexuality. Don’t prepare yourself for one conversation with your 16-year-old daughter on suicide, but rather a lifetime of conversations, and start these conversations young, on the way to gymnastics class, in the van.

If you ever find yourself, in a dark back alley in an unfamiliar city and the shadows start moving, I suggest you run away from what is causing you fear. If however, you have some nagging suspicions about drugs, suicide, sex, or your child harming themselves by cutting, take a gentle, loving warm, inviting step towards these fears and unpackage them slowly and methodically. Take what you hear, and prepare yourself for the next of a lifetime of conversations.

Justin Hubert - Husband, Dad, dreamer. Cultural Architect of www.heritagefamilyservices.com & Blogging words of wisdom on www.slv2all.blogspot.com.

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