No, not about sex, we've been having variations on that one for years. But Eli will be 13 in a couple of weeks, Simon is 11 1/2, Isaiah is 9 and Asher is 7. Meanwhile most of my recent placements have been school-aged kids, several on the cusp of (or over it) puberty and adolescence. So here's the most important talk I give to older kids - the one that I append to every other big discussion:
At the moment you think (and it will probably happen to you eventually - it does to most kids your age) "I am all alone" or "No one else has ever felt this way/done something this bad/been in as much trouble as me" or "I could never, ever tell anyone, especially Mom and Dad/my Foster parents about this because they would hate me/stop loving me/be ashamed of me/never forgive me" or "No one could ever understand/I don't deserve help/There is no way out of this situation/it will never get better" THAT MOMENT is when we most need you to trust that you CAN tell us. Or if you can't tell us, here is a list of other grownups who care about you and will help you and understand no matter what the issue is - one of them can tell us, if we need to know, or get you the help you need if we don't. There are a lot of people who love you and can help you.
Being a preteen/teenager is hard. But it isn't true that there's anything you could do that would make us stop loving you or never forgive you or hate you. It isn't true that you are the only one who has ever felt this way or gotten into a hole so deep they didn't know how to get out by themselves. It isn't even always true that your parents never did anything that awful or wouldn't understand. You are not all alone, and we will ALWAYS help you, no matter how much trouble you are in, no matter how hard it is. We are on your side - being on YOUR SIDE is our most important job, and we always will be, and there is nothing the world so awful or difficult that we won't help you. So tell us, or tell someone who loves you, and keep talking until you get the help you need.
I read here regularly and comment extremely rarely, but that you've shared this is awesome. My kids are 10,7 and 4; I'm going to keep this in my pocket for when it is time to use it. Thanks soo much for sharing it.
What a beautiful way to assure all your kids that they really can trust you and to demonstrate your unconditional love. I'm copying and pasting this into a word doc and starting a new folder called "Parenting" on my computer so that I can save this (and other great stuff like it) for when I need it years down the road.
Sharon- were did you learn this one?
Yes, this is an important bit of parenting; but NOT one that is common in the lists. Was this bit of wisdom from your moms? Or?
The identification of, and transmission of wisdom is one of my enduring fascinations.
I'm the auntie -- the one who has been telling these girls (so far my friends had all girls) for years that I'm their satellite grownup. They can, and have, asked me stuff they're not comfortable talking to their parents about. I didn't wind up with kids of my own, but knowing that I have a real role in these kids' lives makes me unfailingly happy.
Charlotte- excellent point. Made me realize- my father had 3 brothers that I knew- and all of these brothers had the same problem; they were utterly unable to talk to their own children.
But they could- and did- talk to/with their nephews. Crazy; I still think- but works sometimes. Actually- a common pattern in primal cultures- it's the uncle; or aunt, who is the close teacher; not the parent. Hm!