Things I Don’t Hide From My Kids (Even When It’s Super Awkward)
This post reflects part of my working partnership with Responsibility.org as a #TalkEarly ambassador. Responsibility.org and I share a passion for inspiring a lifetime of conversations between parents and kids. They are cool. I hope you’ll check them out.
One common thread throughout modern parenting conversations is how different our experience is compared to that of our parents. Generally speaking, our parent’s generation was focused on making ends meet and getting needs met -- everything was very practical and survival-focused. In contrast, in addition to dealing with the practical stuff, modern parents also are focused on finding meaningful careers, being involved emotionally with their kids, and -- hopefully -- holding onto vestiges of coolness.
And while I fit this description (though for me, it’s attempting to be cool in the now because I wasn’t really very cool earlier in life), one other refreshing generation difference I’ve seen and experience personally is the desire to get over conversational stigmas. I actually really enjoy finding ways to talk to my kids about topics parents often dread, whether that’s puberty, drugs and alcohol, death, or learnings from my own adolescent mistakes.
I can’t begin to tell you how much my 11-year-old loves it when I’m all like, Hey, want to talk about puberty? Puberty is awesome!
But I digress. As part of my work with Responsibility.org, I’ve been asked to share my thoughts about drinking in front of kids. It’s timely because it’s officially summer and summer parties and refreshing cocktails (and I do love a refreshing summer cocktail) are cranking back up. This topic got me thinking about all of the things I don’t hide from my kids, even when it’s super awkward. Because all of these things offer catalysts to really helpful conversations.
1. Frustration or anger
I know it may sound a little odd, but one of my 2016 intentions was to work on expressing my anger. Given my chaotic upbringing, I spent most of my life afraid of anger. It’s been a long journey for me to realize how important it is to express frustration and anger in a healthy way. So I’ve been working on that so my kids can learn to do the same.
2. Bad days
I wrote last year about why kids can benefit from your bad days, and my feelings in that post still hold. Letting your kids see your bad days -- and how you recover and bounce back -- will help them learn resilience.
3. Making mistakes
Similar to bad days, I’ve found it really helpful to talk to my kids about mistakes I’ve made or to not be afraid of letting them know when I’ve made a mistake. Again, it’s all about teaching them resilience and the normalcy of discomfort.
4. Being bad at things
About 6 months ago, Jon started teaching me to play guitar and I was TERRIBLE at it. Or rather, I had a terrible attitude about it. The things is, I’m a former semi-professional violinist, which requires exacting attitude and execution. But guitar -- so many strings, such a wide neck! I was ready to give up because I felt like I was bad at it and then I realized, if I want my kids to learn to work through frustration and learn things, I need to do the same thing. So I persevered and while I’m still a novice, I can play some chords and it’s been so fun to have Laurel be my teacher sometimes.
I pretty much never saw my parents express affection and that makes me a little sad. I want my girls to see what a healthy and loving relationship looks like! (Typically Laurel’s reaction is to be grossed out, and if Violet sees a hug going on she runs over and squeezes in between so she can be the cheese in the hug sandwich.)
I definitely am of the opinion that the more taboo you make something, the more your kids are going to be curious and try to explore on their own (or with friends). We consume in moderation (maybe 2-3 drinks a week) and don’t make a big deal about it, and this approach has also allowed for natural questions and conversations to emerge.
On this topic, here’s advice on drinking in front of your kids from psychologist, Dr. Mary Alvord:
I hope you feel empowered to go forth and be your awesome (sometimes awkward!) self. It’ll pay off in conversational spades!