Life Lessons: The Pre-talks

Sunday, November 24, 2019

We are big on the front-loading conversations over here. I've written about it before when I wrote about Behavior Zones. We are more proactive than reactive when it comes to situations that we believe we can help our kids be as comfortable and as kind as possible.

We have front-loaded conversations and practice on all kinds of things as we raise little kids. We talk a lot about strangers and public spaces, sibling accountability, trick-or-treating, behaviors in certain places, movies/shows, disappointments, people's different abilities (physical and mental), different kinds of families, privilege, scary or confusing things on the news. When left to their own thoughts - kids can come up with some crazy connections or worries. And so we talk and ask questions and answer questions, so that they can know better what to expect, how to respond appropriately and kindly.

William Temple  The most influential of all

We're moving into bigger kids and bigger topics - so I'm starting to think about (and talk about) some of this big kid stuff and I'm sharing in case any of you mommas and daddas want to do some front-load conversations. (I know a lot of my students could have used (and still need) some of these conversations explicitly laid out for them).

Here are some scripts if you need help on getting started on thinking on how to approach some of these topics.

Before a boy/girl parties: 
Someone might ask you to...(dance/skate/sit by them).
And it takes a lot of courage to ask someone, you really have to be brave
So it's easy to make someone cry by accident because it took so much courage to ask in the first place.
If someone asks you, you should either say, "Sure." or "thank you for asking, but no thank you."
Don't laugh, or tell your friends, or make a weird face.
One of those answers work just fine and protects people from being sad and lets them know that they can be brave again.

Before boy/girl parties: 
You might want to ask someone to...(dance/skate/sit by someone)
It takes a lot of courage, but for only about 3 seconds. You have to be brave for 3 seconds and just ask!
They might say yes and they might say no.
If they want to - awesome!
If they don't, that's okay too. Kind of sucks, but don't feel embarrassed because at least you were brave enough to ask.
Think of all the kids who wanted to ask someone but couldn't get the guts.
You can feel disappointed but that's different than mad. You can't make anyone do something they don't want to. Just like no one can make you do something you don't want to.
I will be proud of you for being brave enough to ask!

Dipping your toe into pre-pubescent conversations
you're not weird. 
This is just what happens as you start to grow up - and this next part of growing up; it's going to get strange. 
You're not going to know what the heck is going on in your brain, you'll feel sad and mad and confused a lot of the time, you're going to get bigger than me even though you still feel like a kid inside, and you'll have lots of questions that feel really embarrassing and awkward 
You're body is trying to grow up and your brain is trying to grow up but they can't keep up with each other so you keep feeling mixed up. And your poor heart still loves being a kid but also wants to be a grown up. It just gets all messy and confusing.
But know that everyone your age is going through it, and everyone older than you had to go through it too. 
And no matter how weird it gets - me and Dad love you and will be here for you. 

A chat about internet searches related to pubescent curiosities: 
you're not weird. 
you don't think me and Daddy were wondering about those same things when we were your age? (helpful to have Dad in the room nodding and smiling for some comic relief)
and you live in a time that there are a lot more ways to look up this kind of stuff that didn't exist when we were young. 
The thing about the internet is it remembers everything you do, so even if you think you're being secret about it, the internet remembers.
Lots of the things you find on the internet are made like a movie, and that's not how it happens in real life. We can talk about this more if you have questions now, but over the next few years, we will be talking about this so that you can be a decent human being who is safe and smart.
If you have questions ever, please talk to us or your aunts or uncles. 
If you look stuff up at home, do NOT show your siblings. they are not old enough yet. 
And under no circumstances do you EVER EVER EVER E.V.E.R (!!) search things that are privacy related at school. EVER. 

A chat about taking/sending/receiving pictures of body parts
There is NEVER EVER EVER EVER E.V.E.R a reason to take a photo of your own private parts on any device no matter how grown you are. 
First of all, nobody wants to receive that photo (seriously no one)
and secondly, if you think only the one person you are sending it to is the only one who is going to see it, that's highly unlikely.
And if you ever receive a picture of someone else's stuff - just delete it. 
Don't show your friends, don't save it, just delete it. 
The mother of that child who sent it never warned them: that no matter how safe you think it is to send a picture of your body to someone -it will always come back to embarrass you. 

I'm not claiming to have the answers; I'm still only a little more than nine years into this parenting gig. But I lean hard into those before me (thanks parents and in-laws) and I look to my friends who are further along in this parenting journey than me - who have kids who are kind and decent and that I use as examples to my own kiddos. My students who are most kind, tolerant, and emotionally stable are the kids who have had conversations and questions answered with an adult who they love and trust about these things .

we got this, mommas and daddas.


  1. We're just a few years ahead of you in the parenting gig, but one thing that is working well for us in this department is "going for a drive." When my two oldest have questions or want to talk about things that may not be appropriate for the little ones to hear, they ask Mark to come along on an errand or just go for a drive. I think it's the fact that they are looking straight ahead, no eye contact for uncomfortable questions. I'm really grateful that they trust their father enough to be vulnerable with him and keep these conversations going. They keep asking and Mark keeps driving.