Ron L. Deal, MMFT – Every person in a family wants to feel loved and wants to be able to show love to others who they care about and appreciate. And while that concept may be simple- the execution can be surprisingly complicated as not everyone gives and receives love in the same way. Some may desire reassuring physical touch while another person enjoys compliments, encouragement and other words of affirmation. Still others may feel most loved when they receive gifts or their family members do acts of service for them—cooking, cleaning, picking up the dry cleaning, or fixing something that might help the other person. Some prefer quality time. Perhaps you recognize your love language in all of these—and the love languages of others in your family. Things get convoluted– and well-intentioned people miss the mark when they, for instance, value acts of service but their partner or children show love through quality time or words of affirmation. Not to mention, this can be hard enough in a family that hasn’t gone through the life altering changes like divorce, remarriage or death of a parent—but what about the blended family who has to navigate step parents, step siblings, step grandparents with all of their nuances, needs, rules, emotions, concerns and ways that all of these different people want to feel valued and important? Blended families must deal with the pain of the past, the complexities of new relationships and the unique challenges that come with creating one family. As parents and stepparents, how can we have these important conversations about fear, loss, inclusion, empathy and connection—tying the binds between the biological family members and the new family members? How do we find love, strengthen it and keep it in a step family? For these answers, I have the honor of having a wonderful conversation with our guest today, Ron L. Deal.
Special Guest: Katie Hurley
This podcast provides:
Tips: Katie talks about watching for stress-signs, encouraging play, dealing with differences between parents and children, using empathic listening, using stress words and problem-solving, stop and label, self care, body mapping, deep breathing.
Scripts: Instead of problem solving, use some empathic listening and reflect back what your child is saying. Examples are given. Also how to talk to kids about pitching in when parents are stressed out (and ask for help when they are!).
Barriers to success: Differences between how parents and children cope with stress (coming from different worlds).
Dr. Cara Natterson – This podcast will focus on how to decode boys and talk to boys about puberty, sex, porn, nudes and body image. It’s vital that we talk to boys about these tough topics as it’s part of keeping them healthy and safe—and that’s a big part of our job as parents. Dr. Robyn Silverman interviews Dr. Cara Natterson about how to talk to boys about this sensitive subject matter. Boys deserve to have the right information that helps them learn about positive relationships and sex and, at the same time, helps to protect them from becoming vulnerable to societal messages about body image, pornography and violence.
Special Guest: Wendy Young
This podcast provides:
How to co-regulate
How to get off the anger merry-go-round.
How to use “a bug and a wish.”
How to help kids realize the anger cues
How to construct a mad box and why
How to process the feelings and interactions after the incident is over.
Speaking out loud about our own anger and how we process it
N.O.W. Learn how to Normalize, Offer opportunities/strategies, Work with children on managing big feelings
What to say when your children have big feelings and are showing intensity.
How to help children describe how big their feelings are at that moment.
Helping kids know what to do when they want to engage in negative behaviors- what can we do instead?
How to give hope when helping kids managing big, intense feelings
How to process the feelings after the incident is over
Walking through the steps of calming down our anger out loud.
Exactly what to say when children are in the throws of messy feelings.
Diana Kapp – Although hidden from many history books, where credit wasn’t provided, or downplayed in media where coverage skewed towards gains boys and men were making, women have been making strides, creating useful inventions and running companies for longer than we know. But credit needs to be revealed if we are going to ensure that girls and boys have strong female role models and understand that women bring greatness, innovation, indomitable spirit, focus, ingenuity and leadership to this world in many of the same ways—and in different ways than do men. Without women’s creativity and persistence, we wouldn’t have some of the greatest inventions that we completely take for granted! Just dip back into history for a moment and we can reveal, for example, that the first dishwasher was developed by a woman. The Brooklyn Bridge? Woman. Windshield wipers, the game of monopoly, the brown paper bag? All developed by women. And today, we also have incredible examples of motivated, innovative women that are positive examples of taking risks, trying again, working hard, knocking off the negative self talk and forgetting about perfectionism on the way to success. We can learn a lot from these women- and today, we are going to discuss how we can use their stories to help inspire children when we are having conversations about such topics as success, persistence, risk-taking and perfectionism. And for that, I have invited author, Diana Kapp, on the show today.
Karen Young has worked as a psychologist in private practice and in educational settings. She founded the popular website, Hey Sigmund, which attracts millions of readers each year. Karen is a sought-after speaker, both at home in Australia and internationally. She is the author of ‘Hey Warrior’, a book for kids to help them understand anxiety and find their ‘brave’. The book has now been translated into a number of languages—and we couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome her to How to Talk to Kids about Anything
This podcast will focus on the talking to kids (and teaching kids) about money. Raising children who understand money is vital to their future financial health, independence and future fiscal behavior. Children and teens need to learn the value of money as well as how to budget, plan, earn, save, invest and give to causes and charities that mean something to them. Money management is a life skill that all children must learn—so let’s get the information we need right here!
I know. This is not easy. The very idea of having to talk to your child about sex is making you squeamish, squirmish and squirrelly. But we can do this. And I have to tell you– it’s not as bad as you think.
Here are some key tips for parents who know that it is time to talk to kids about sex:
(1) Talk early and often: It’s never “THE talk” or “one talk” but a series of big and little ones that you have over time starting when they are very little. The first talks are about their body parts, caring for their body parts and loving each body part! And yes, you’ll build on these foundational talks- don’t avoid it and don’t make it weird! There’s nothing to be embarrassed about!
(2) Use the actual words: Just like we call an “arm” and “arm” and not a “Little llama,” refer to a penis as a penis and a vagina as a vagina. There is nothing wrong with these words and we don’t want to send the message that there is! Plus, it will make it much easier to discuss the mechanics of sex later- you don’t want to be talking about intercourse like “the peepee goes into the women’s lady bits” because that will cause confusion and it frankly doesn’t sound right at all. (We talk about this in more depth in the interview with Dina Alexander and with Bonnie J. Rough)
(3) Be the trusted source: Seriously, who do you want talking to your child about sex- you, or that kid, Barnabee, in the back of the bus who overheard something in some movie? Kids are hearing about sex in elementary school. By age 11, most kids have been exposed to porn. Make sure you talk early and often so you get to educate your kid with your values and the right information or you might have to unravel the wrong information! And DON’T tell your child s/he’s too young to know- they’ll just find out from somebody else (or the internet- you definitely don’t want that).
(4) Be ready! This conversation doesn’t happen when you schedule it (what conversation does?). So you might be putting your daughter to bed and a question about nipples becomes a full-fledged segway into intercourse. A report on something your child heard on the school bus about how babies really came to be might come up over “pass the potatoes.” And family movies, seeing a pregnant woman, witnessing breast-feeding, a school video on puberty- are all springboards for discussion around “how babies are made.” If they’re asking; be ready to tell. Ask them what they already know (to dispel myths or build upon knowledge). Be ready to put on your big boy and big boy pants, take a deep breath and say things like; “the man’s penis goes into the vagina,” “erection,” “lubrication,” “ejaculation,” “testicles,” “clitoris,” if the child is asking about exactly how baby-making works.
(5) Don’t shame body exploration: Totally normal, folks! The body is amazing! Our kids need to know their bodies. Get your daughter a mirror so she can look at her amazing vagina! According to sex therapist, Dae Sheridan, interviewed on How to Talk to Kids about Anything, most girls don’t even know they have 3 holes down there. Let your boys and girls touch themselves- and simply give guidance that body exploration is private and not something you do in public. As your children get older, you don’t want them to have any shame around masturbation, contrary to how you might have grown up, it is not a shameful thing to do—and is a totally normal part of sexuality.
(6) Be age-appropriate and follow the child’s lead: A young child may only want to know about the sperm and the egg while an older child may want to know more about how to egg and the sperm get together. Oversharing when a child isn’t ready doesn’t feel good for anyone so don’t answer more than what they are asking. Undersharing doesn’t feel good either so make sure you are answering the question and not changing the subject to “what’s for dinner?” Leave the door open to answer any others whenever s/he is ready. They’ll let you know. (And you WANT your child to ask YOU questions—about this and about ANYTHING).
(7) Discuss consent: This, again, can start early. We each get to say whether we want to be touched and how we want to be touched. We get to say if we want to be hugged or kissed and if we’d rather have some alone time. And we need to listen to the wishes and boundaries of others as well. (See my interview with Richard Weissbourd and Peggy Orenstein).
(8) Tell them that sex is more than just mechanics and for procreation: Because it is. Sex is a way to connect. It’s an adult way to show love, passion, playfulness, generosity, warmth and affection. You can explain to your children that; “When you find the right person who truly loves and respects you for who you are and who you truly care about and love for who they are, sex can be beautiful and amazing.” (The opposite is true too- the wrong person who could care less about you- sex is no bueno.)
(9) Nervous? Practice! Say it to yourself in front of a mirror, say it to your spouse, the wall or a willing friend or bookclubber! When you practice talking about sex, it’s much easier to actually talk about it when you need to have the conversations.
(10) There are larger conversations to have: Your children may ask about other ways babies come into our lives- and you can get into discussions about IVF, adoption, surrogacy and more. And, especially if your child identifies with being in the LGBTQ community- you don’t get a pass if you are straight and your child is gay, by the way- you must talk about sex with same-sex partners. If you don’t know the answers, ask someone who does. If you don’t have this conversation with your child who identifies with being in the LGBTQ community, they will get their information elsewhere (likely not a trusted source) and they will likely feel alone and confused.
Need resources? Listen to these podcast episodes we’ve done on the topic of talking to kids about sex:
How to Talk to Kids about Sex with Dina Alexander
How to talk to Kids about Sex, Love & Equality with Bonnie J. Rough
How to Talk to Kids about Healthy, Caring, Romantic Relationships with Richard Weissbourd
How to Talk to Boys about Sex with Peggy Orenstein
How to Talk to Kids about Porn with Gail Dines
How to Talk to Kids about Sexual Assault with Dae Sheridan
To come: How to Talk to Boys about Puberty, Sex, Body Image & Growing Up with Cara Natterson
Thinking of you, my friend! You can do it!
This podcast will focus on self-injury and how to help young people who are self-harming to find healthier ways to cope with stress, pain and big emotions. Those who are self-injuring are not attempting to die by suicide but rather aiming to find a way to feel better. Those who self-injure need help and Dr. Janis Whitlock provides the information we need to best support and understand those who are self-injuring.
This podcast will focus on the importance of allowing children to fail. Discover why, during the school-age and teen years, it is vital for parents and educators to allow young people to experience the disappointment, frustration and struggle that occurs when they are challenged by life’s problems. Find out how failure and learning to bounce back and ultimately succeed, put children on the path to growing up and becoming successful, resilient and self-reliant adults.