Updated: Oct 13, 2021
Friends, family, parents, students, EVERYBODY--October is #LetsTalkMonth!
What does that mean, you ask? Let's dive in and...you guessed it, talk about it.
At OneLife we believe that parents, caregivers, and trusted adults in the lives of students should be their #1 resource regarding love, sex, relationships, and other big choices young people face daily. We understand it's not easy to begin these sensitive conversations, and would love to offer some tips for opening up the door to talk about the tough stuff!
This generation is unlike any other generation in that they are as progressive as the technology they have access to, thus making it a tad bit challenging to keep up with trends, movements, or dialogue. In preparation for discussions in regards to puberty, love, sex, relationships, porn, nicotine, or any other "taboo" discussions, you must first be willing to be open, honest, and transparent. In a world that is full of conflicting messages about the tough choices young people face daily, you can never go wrong by presenting facts. Please remember that your teens value the insight of the adults they trust.
However, where we as adults fail to show up is solely in our willingness to affirm their perspectives and meet them where they are. Putting ourselves in their shoes in order to understand the intensity and realness of their present anxieties, fears, questions and concerns goes a long way. It will never be enough to have one over the other, in regards to fact and empathy. Without your facts you have no concrete truth or foundation to stand on, but without your empathy you have no solid connection to build on. Both go hand in hand in preparation for these discussions.
We often encourage trusted adults to cater to the comfort level of the child. For example, if long car rides are easier for them because they do not have to make direct eye contact, take advantage of the fact that they are at least willing to discuss...they're probably just relieved you're not staring through their soul. Another example would be to put down your devices and make a pact to be present with them as long as they are with you. Go out for lunch, pick up takeout, or sit at the park and eat. Either way, the point of this is to be intentional and focus on the topic at hand.
Sensitive conversations are worthwhile and productive when both parties are engaged, willing to listen patiently, and are compassionately responsive. Be prepared for questions that may ruffle your feathers. We know it's hard to swallow when you realize your kids are growing up, but how cool is it that you get to be the one to help guide them toward a healthy future. And remember, you're never alone in this. It takes a village and our goal is to come alongside of you and support you in any way we can.
Who REALLY wants to discuss such things with anyone beyond your imaginary friend in your head (Don't act like you don't have one)?
Hear me out, fam.
A great deal of connections in life, be it with your best friends, boyfriend/girlfriend, or acquaintances to come will all wind up in one of two directions depending on your capability to communicate. If you are unwilling to be transparent in any relationship you currently have or will have in the future, then you will find that there is nowhere else to go or no other reason to continue. Building healthy relationships is based on our willingness to be open, honest, and compassionate towards another person, completely willing to listen, ask questions when necessary, and embrace their perspectives every bit as much as your own, whether you agree or not.
These are the kinds of relationships the trusted adults in your lives want to build with you, even though they might find it hard to navigate certain topics and discussions with you. Sometimes that just comes down to awkwardness, but be honest...sometimes it's on account of your unwillingness to be vulnerable with them. Ouch.
I am wholeheartedly aware of the awkwardness, as well as the fear of what [could] happen on the other side of some of these discussions. My challenge is for you to look and think on the flipside of the coin and think about what might transpire if you get a positive encounter out of it. Think of what might happen if you opened up to the trusted adults in your life and discovered you had more common ground than you realized. What if they actually understood what you were going through and offered helpful advice, or at least a supportive listening ear? These are the conversations that draw us closer to one another. These are the conversations that our devices, social media, comparison, anxiety, and fear keep us from. These are the moments that make the discomfort worthwhile because they result in deeper understanding and connection with one another.
Remember: there's no such thing as a bad question. Don't be ashamed by the questions you may have in regards to love, relationships, sex, boundaries, porn, nicotine, depression, or anxiety. In fact, the only bad question is the one you don't ask. Healthy people ask for help when they need it, and wise people seek advice and counsel.
All in all, don't sleep on asking the hard questions. You might just be surprised by the response. We are here for you, we have been in your shoes, and we are willing to help you have the hard conversations because we care about the future of your relationships.
Starting the Conversation
Hopefully this blog has made you feel a bit more ready to tackle the heavy stuff. Be on the lookout for an upcoming blog featuring a conversation guide to help you start the discussion! Until then, may the force be with you all!