Kids and Parents are Both Human
The first thing that many people forget in regards to children is that they are miniature but complete human beings. They read people very well and are particularly keen when they know that something is being intentionally kept from them. In sensing both intuitively and by astutely observing the behavioral cues from the adults around them that something is awry, they are likely to feel a lack of control and a resulting sense of fear when the issue is continually kept from them. It is best to give yourself a bit of time to gain clarity on how to best approach the subject with them. Then, talk to them when it appears there is a situation that is materializing that will need to be dealt with.
Filter What is Relevant
With that said, children do not need to be exposed to every insecurity or fear as though it is already fact. Getting a routine biopsy is not the same as receiving a serious diagnosis. Having an argument with a spouse over the price of your new car should not involve mutterings of divorce. It is not in the best interest of the child to be told that every situation in life isn’t going to turn into a life-altering event. It is, however, important to discuss changes that may take place in a family’s life – such as a parent returning to school or a new addition of the family on the way.
When Kids Ambush You
When children approach you with a question that you know will be a sticky conversation, try to be calm and relaxed. Often children require very short, simplistic answers without too much detail. If they catch you off guard and you are not ready to have the conversation without some contemplation and preparation, tell them that you will have the conversation at another appropriate time. Make an appointment and honor it. Try to be casual when you tell them that you will discuss it at your appointment. Do not make them unnecessarily alarmed.
- In order to care for them, take care of yourself. Give yourself time and space to calm down and figure out the best way to direct the conversation you want to have with your children before having a discussion that involves a difficult and current situation.
- Do not expect perfection from yourself. You may not handle the situation perfectly, but going in with a plan will help you stay on point and focused. Doing your best in any given situation is the most you can ever ask of yourself.
- Respect kids as human beings. They need filters for the level of age appropriateness that is right for them. But, when something is going on, they will likely sense it and make it worse in their own minds if adults don’t communicate what is happening around them.
Focus on Healing
The point to keep in mind and to communicate to your child is that no matter what situation you’re in, you can always find your way to a happier life. There are people who have been in places bleaker and more desperate than you can probably imagine who have learned to make joy their predominant priority and experience.