Kids will surprise you often if you listen enough. I do my best to talk to my children about their day every day. Nothing eventful happens most of the time, but if they are in the habit of talking to me, then when something does happen, they’ll think of me first, I hope, even if only out of habit.
Open Lines of Communication Come First
Talking to kids is not always easy. First, we’re busy, but we shouldn’t be too busy. Second, kids can be boring. I mean, the things that blow a teen’s mind (like that their mom and dad were young once in the same way that they are) are humorous at best. The key is to figure out how to talk to them so that they will tell you things that are important later.
After all, if they don’t think you know them, they might be more inclined to tell their friends. Who’s going to have better advice?
Kids’ Friends are Full of all Kinds of Ideas
My middle child (5) has a new best friend. They play well together and we’re happy they are in the same Kindergarten class. One day after picking up my daughter from school and waiting in line to pick up my oldest, she told me something.
“I kissed a boy today.”
I’m not happy to hear this, but know that my reaction is important if I want more information.
“Oh,” I think I said. “Is he your friend?”
“No, I don’t know him.”
“Well, why’d you kiss him if you don’t know him?”
“Because [best friend] told me to.”
“If [BF] told you to jump off a bridge, would you do that, too?”
This last part was a reflex and ill-advised because jumping off of a bridge makes next to no sense to a child. Children need something they can relate to, so I told her a special secret that almost no one knows.
The Secret Kids Need to Know About Kissing
“Honey,” I said, “can I tell you a secret?”
She was listening.
“Your kisses are special. That’s why you don’t want to just go and kiss anyone.”
As I saw no response, I went on. “That’s why we don’t just kiss anyone. Mommy and I kiss people in our family, but we only kiss each other on the lips, and I would never, never kiss another lady that wasn’t your mommy, because that’s something special that I only share with her. And that’s why you shouldn’t just kiss anybody. Your kisses are special.”
“I didn’t know that,” she said in a way that sounded as though she wished she had.
“I know,” I said, “it’s a secret.”
A few days later she brought this conversation up at dinner about how our kisses are special, but that her friend didn’t know that, so she told her. Now, it’s a secret they both know.