By: Aleksandre McMenamin
The world is full of difficult topics that don’t always have the easiest of answers. It can be difficult for even adults to broach certain subjects, due to the severity, awkwardness, or complex moral area that surrounds an issue. However, when a child asks someone they love and trust about these topics, it can be even more difficult to discuss. On the one hand, we want to preserve the innocence of the children whom we love and care for, and might feel uncertain about enlightening them to some of these more precarious topics. However, it is rarely a good idea to completely shield a young, inquisitive mind from the nature of the world. Instead, we should all strive to guide them into a more nuanced understanding of these difficult subjects. Otherwise, we may find that they are learning about these things from the wrong places. Here are some of the hard, but absolutely necessary things to talk to your kids about…
One of the greatest health epidemics of our time is the spread of drug abuse and the dependency on illicit substances that is sweeping our country and, indeed, the entire planet. The horrors that drug abuse and the disease of addiction has wrought upon countless families is the very thing that makes it such a difficult subject to approach with your children. However, it isn’t only a topic that should be discussed with them, it is a huge part of actually doing something about this problem to do so. Discussing the nature of addiction and drug abuse helps them process the information that they see in the world around them. It is also a huge part of talking to them about peer pressure, which is important. Many addicts actually get started relatively young, and there is a culture among youth of experimenting with illicit substances, no matter how much we try to ignore it.
As the collective student debt in our country continues to climb (it is well over $1 trillion) and more and more young people are struggling with crippling debt that follows them far into their adult lives, it is highly important to talk to your kids about finances and how to avoid debt. This is a topic that should be discussed multiple times, as our children are growing up. Try to use allowances and tasks around the house to teach them the importance of money, as well as how to control it. Hopefully, these tangible events in their lives will instill an understanding in them of how debt works. Not only is this topic inherently important to discuss, but it is very necessary to keep it up, since many companies are working hard to market to your kids to get them further into debt, for their own financial gain. Show them how debt affects our society at multiple levels, as well. Even entire countries can suffer from a debt crisis (such as the recent Greece debacle, outlined here).
We live in a digital world. There’s no arguing that fact. Children today grow up with more of an online presence than ever before, as their social networks now exist in that realm, to a major degree. There are many incredible benefits to this. The world is now brought closer together than ever before. We can now, in an incredibly personal way, share in the life experiences of many cultures around the planet. This has the potential to breed empathy and compassion across the globe. However, it also means that each of us is more open to outsiders who want to peer into ours and, particularly, our children’s’ lives. One of the big anxieties of being a parent in the online age is the fear of online predators, and what exactly our children are doing online. Because of these dangers, it is incredibly important to talk to our kids about the online world and how to be safe online. Make sure your kids know never to reveal any personal information online, and to avoid speaking with strangers in the same way that they would if they saw them on the street. In the meantime, make sure that your online connection is secure, so that online predators have no way to get personal information. Even businesses can struggle with online security, but there are many great resources out there to prevent this.
Due to the awkwardness that we perceive around the subject, sex definitely falls into a difficult topic to discuss. It is the classic conversation that every parent needs to have with their kids, but doesn’t want to. However, every kid is going to be exposed to a conversation about it at some point. What parents have to decide is if they want that conversation to be between them, or someone else their age. You don’t have to be explicit when talking to them, but make sure that they understand everything you are saying. Let them ask questions, if they need to.