5 Important Conversations to Have With Your Child Now
When you have your first child, it’s hard to imagine them as anything other than the sleepy, wiggly baby you have before you. But they grow so quickly, and before you know it, they’ll be asking to borrow your car on a Thursday evening to go grab a burger with a few friends. As your child grows and gets older, the way you parent will grow and change with them. You want your child to be prepared to handle any issue that comes across their path, so they are ready to make important decisions. That means having important conversations with your children to ensure that they are prepared for when you aren’t there to help them.
Birds and the bees
The inevitable birds and the bees. The best way to approach this conversation is to start early, probably a lot earlier than you think. If your child has a healthy idea of sex from a young age, it won’t be a taboo or scary subject. They won’t need to seek out their knowledge from seedy websites or friends when they have a question, because they know they can talk to you about it. When they first ask about how babies are made, what sex is, or their genitals as a young child, tell them. Explain in terms they’ll understand, and then they’ll move on. It’s only taboo if you make it that way. If you make it uncomfortable, then they’ll be uncomfortable. Having an open stream of communication between you and your child about sex will help them feel like they can tell you when something happens.
This is another thing that shouldn’t be a single conversation, but an open means of communication. Low self esteem is something that affects too many children and teens, both boys and girls. The best way to promote body positivity in your child, is to speak positively about your own body. This is much easier said than done, I know. Refrain from being negative about your weight, or any features. Your child absorbs these like a sponge, and will begin to view the features they’ve inherited from you as ugly or bad.
There’s a fine line between trying to encourage your child to be healthy and causing them to think you want them to be healthy because of an ulterior motive, such as that they think you think they’re fat. You don’t think your child is fat, you just want them to be healthy and avoid developing health issues, such as diabetes, from bad nutrition choices they are making while they are young. Model health for them. Have more healthy foods available in your home than junk, but don’t dictate their diet. Let them have a cookie. Ice cream is okay. But broccoli and kale are also okay. Letting them cook with you is a great way for them to feel involved and excited about food, and it’s a natural opportunity for you to talk to them about why we want to eat healthy, and the benefits of certain types of foods.
How to manage their money
Your child should have a way of making money at a young age. Let them earn a dollar if they do an extra chore on the weekend. This isn’t child labor, it’s a way to teach them that they will have to work for money as an adult, as well as how to save this money. When they earn money, help them allocate part of it for savings, and part of it for spending. Your child can be empowered about money, and it can be a fun process for the both of you as you teach them the value of their things.
Substances and addiction
This is probably the most uncomfortable discussion to have with a child, but one of the most important. Whether your child is introduced to alcohol or other substances at your home, a friends home, or at school, your child will inevitably come across one substance or another while they are still living at home. Explain to them how addiction works, and why they should refrain from illegal substances. Again, having an open line of communication will help them feel like they can tell you if something happens.