By Naami Resnick, M.S., JCS Family Navigator
Life has increasingly moved online in 2020. We can order our groceries online, pay our bills, and text our kid’s teachers. We rarely use cash and actual phone conversations are a rarity. Raising children in an increasingly global, virtual environment is filled with new challenges. You may hear the refrain “I’m so glad I didn’t grow up with an iPhone in my hand” from people whose children are now in their forties. They are right, to an extent. Raising children now is different than it was in 1990. However, some things stay the same.
Parents must speak to their children about difficult topics which is an integral part of raising a child. Mothers and fathers must educate and model, for their children, how to handle hard conversations and uncomfortable feelings. Topics like drugs—use, past relationships, selling, alcohol abuse, and theft—are difficult conversations we must have with our children, and they are endless. Children are incredibly perceptive, and they will pick up on their parents’ slightest discomfort. In a situation like that, the child is most likely to walk away with one feeling – I NEVER want to do that again. So, how can we have productive conversations with our children and attain that elusive goal – open, honest communication? What is the best way to become your child’s go-to person?
- Get Comfortable. Increase your comfort level with difficult topics. The more relaxed you are with the conversation, the more capable you will be of setting your child at ease. Educate yourself. Google, read some books, even make a list of points, before sitting down with your child. Once you are confident about what you want to say, you will automatically be more at ease and decrease discomfort.
- Tell the Truth. Be honest and authentic. This does not mean you should tell your kid all your fears and worries. You are still the parent. For example, authentic communication could sound like this “I am not an expert on this topic, but I have read….” You could also say, “Have you heard that…”. Another example would be to say, “This is not an easy topic to discuss, but it is important.” This approach has two positive effects. You are showing your child you value their opinion and that you are not claiming to be an expert on the topic. Acknowledging that it is not an easy subject is ok.
- Practice. Have the hard conversations. They become easier if you do it more often. Once you have set the foundation with your child, both of you will become more comfortable addressing complex issues and may even enjoy them.
Naami Resnick M.S. is a Family Navigator at Jewish Community Services.
To learn more about the Family Navigator program, contact Naami at 410-843-7460 or
JCS provides individuals and families throughout Central Maryland with a broad array of services and resources to help you live your best life. To learn more, please visit jcsbalt.org or call 410-466-9200.