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Talking about sensitive issues with your Teenager

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There are things in any parents lives that are more challenging to deal with than others and talking about sensitive issues is one. The button pushers will be different for each parent depending on their own life experiences but there are some issues that seem to raise challenges for most families. Sex drugs and mental health are three of the most common areas that parents have the most concerns about and consequently struggle to communicate easily about.

You’re not alone

If this is familiar to you, the most important thing to remind yourself of is that you are not alone, either in your anxieties or in terms of  supporting your children. There is a lot of information and services available to give you and your child support through any particular tricky phases that come up.

Educate yourselftalking about sensitive issues

It is important to approach understanding an issue from two perspectives. Firstly the practical perspective which is fact gathering. To do this it’s advisable to go to reputable sources of information and read a bit at a time so that you have time to absorb it and digest the facts, figures and advice from professionals, rather than overwhelm yourself with hearsay or conflcting opions from chat boards or other very public forums. Websites that have got a good reputation for these issues are Talk to Frank  for any concerns about drugs; Brook for comprhensive information about sex and contraception; Young Mind for mental health and The Site as a great general site for all areas of concern for young people. Most of these sites have email contact or helplines if you have specific queires that you can’t find answers to in the general information.

Personal experiences

The second, and as important, stage in understanding an issue is to explore your own experiences and opinions about it. Even if you have not gone through something similar to what your child is experiencing you will still have absorbed attitudes and feelings about it from those around you and the general consensus and without checking in with yourself it is very likely that you will pass those attitudes on without realising. If you have a history of drug use or mental health or if you have been close to people who have gone through these experiences it may be very helpful to set up a supportive space to explore and clear your feelings before these issues come up with your children.

Understand the facts

Having personal experience can be really helpful in helping other people to understand the facts and the risks of certain situations but only if you are emotionally detached enough from the experiences. Over time be open to the possibility of having bits of support as and when things come. Don’t put pressure on yourself to have done it all in one go, remind yourself that it’s common for people to have blocks of support and then breaks and then return for a top-up.

Once you have made more sense of the mass of information and your own experiences, and you realise that you don’t have to tackle the hard stuff alone, you will be able to see the wood for the trees much more clearly and the issues will feel less loaded. Even so, it will be useful to have a few guidelines that make talking to children about sensitive topics more straightforward.

Take your time

Number one, take your time. Remind yourself again and again that these conversations can happen over weeks, months even years, you don’t have to say it all now and if you realise that you’ve left something important out know that you can bring it in later.talking about sensitive issues

Let them lead the way

Number two, once you’ve given them an opening let your child lead the way. It’s great to raise a topic and give a clear message that you are there for your child and that they are free to ask any questions that they want to, but then take a step back and let them decide on the pace of the discussions.

Be creative

Number three be creative! You don’t have to do it all by talking, get some books and leaftlets about the subject and leave them around or give them directly to your kids. See if you can find films that tackle the issues responsibly and watch them together or again give them directly to your children to watch. of being there for your child.

Find out together

Lastly and maybe most importantly, don’t be afraid not to know! If your child asks you a question and you don’t feel able to reply, say so and find out together!

 

 

 

 

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One Response to “Talking about sensitive issues with your Teenager”

  1. Johnb747

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    Reply

About Jenny Smith

About Jenny Smith

Jenny Smith is a freelance writer and facilitator specialising in mental health, well-being and ecotherapy. She writes for National Mind and The Working Parent and facilitates training in the Work that Reconnects and Ecotherapy. She is inspired by nature, gardening, love and non-duality teachings

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