Talking to your teenagers about sex, drugs and rock and roll — er, well, these days hip hop — can be some of the most uncomfortable conversations you can ever have with your kids. But have you ever thought about life from their perspectives and wondered what they may actually be interested in knowing? With all the information — and misinformation — floating around in vast array of today’s various media outlets, do you ever take the time to just talk with your teenagers and get to know their likes, dislikes, beliefs and misinterpretations on the subject? And, wouldn’t it be beyond radical if your kids wanted to know what life was like when YOU were their age? Now THOSE are some awkward conversations which can alter the dynamic of your relationship forever.
1. Tell your teenagers about the first time you had sex
Rather than lecturing them over and over again about how sinful and perilous premarital sex is, explain to your teenagers what it was like for you the first time you “did it.” And then talk to them about anything you'd have done differently if you knew then what you know now. It’s no secret that the more you tell your kids not to do something, the more eager they are to find out what’s going to happen to them if they do it.
Once your teenagers are given the space to ask questions about sex instead of being told the topic is off limits and they’re just not supposed to do it, the mystery is less mysterious. Then, the focus can shift from, “Dude, it’s got to be good if they’re making such a big deal out of not doing it,” to, “Wow, this sounds like a beautiful experience I’d like to make sure I share only with the right person.”
2. Talk to your kids about the times you partied
Just like with the sex conversation, dispelling the façade that you were perfect when you were their age is a huge game changer in your relationship with your teenagers. You don’t have to think back very far to remember how you saw your parents and imagined they did no wrong back in their day. Your kids only know what you’ve wanted them to know about you. But, how much more intimate could your relationship be with them if you were to share your secrets with them as a way to help them learn from your mistakes as opposed to the age-old, “Because I said so,” epic fail?
3. Clue them in that Sunday school for you was just as boring as it is for them
You’ll be amazed at the difference in your own perspective once you start opening up to your kids about your growing up years. You may even start to understand your teenagers’ behaviors a little more clearly once you begin talking about your own adventures.
The lie society wants you to believe that teenagers don’t want to talk to their parents about anything stems from the fact that kids think their parents are going to feed them a line of bull to keep them from knowing they are imperfect. News flash: your kids already know this. They’re way smarter than you give them credit for if you honestly believe they don’t know you’re flawed. Respect your teenagers enough to be open and honest with them and then watch what you’ll begin to get in return. It’s the law of, “Give what you hope to get,” and it’s always in effect.
By opening the door for your teens to peer into your past and look beyond your role as their parent to see you as a person, you’re helping them connect with you on a deeper level and allowing them the privilege of having genuine conversations with the most influential teacher they’ll ever have — you! Walls of self-created illusions will be shattered by having these types of awkward conversations with your kids, and the entryway to fostering healthy relationships with them will lead you places you’d only dreamed you’d be able to travel with your teenagers.
Danica Trebel is a mom to two AMAZING teenage sons, a recovering perfectionist and a Life and Family Dynamics Coach. She specializes in helping families tune up their relationships through perspective, communication and faith www.danicatrebel.com