Every TV show perpetuates the stereotype. Our own memories confirm it. At some point, parents have to have “The Talk.” About drugs. About sex. About race. About divorce. =
It’s awkward. It’s unwanted. Inevitably, it’s insufficient.
Of course, it is. Because to think a person can explain (and a child can understand) these topics in one conversation is preposterous. It also puts way too much pressure on both sides of the conversation—for you to nail the delivery, and for them to hear everything you’re telling them.
A better way to approach these complicated subjects is to, you know, approach them as complicated subjects. Something that you talk about regularly, consistently, in a low pressure environment. It should be ongoing—because things change, because kids grow, because experiences will allow them to put meaning to words, as well as spur important questions.
As we’ve said before, this parenting thing is a job that never ends. Many of its component tasks are like that too—they are ongoing, they evolve. You only talk to your kids about sex or race once? When they’re 13 and you’re 40? As if nothing else is going to happen? As if your understanding of either of those fraught subjects hasn’t changed multiple times between 13 and 40 yourself? As if neither of you will continue to learn and grow?
Be serious. Don’t think of this as an unpleasant thing to get over with. Think of it as a well-spring of connection, a conversation you will be having with your kids as long as you’re both here—a conversation they’ll pick up and carry on with their own kids. So start it right and keep it going.