Navigating Difficult Discussions with Kids
As both culture and our kids grow more complex, parents need wisdom navigating tricky conversations around thorny social issues, ethical dilemmas, and coming-of-age topics. While tempting to avoid controversy, children need parental guidance making sense of sensitive subjects through a biblical lens. Regardless of your Family Type, difficult conversations will come to surface in your family.
Discussing topics like racism, mental health, pornography, relationships, substance abuse and current events requires treading carefully but directly. Handled well, hard conversations equip kids to analyze life’s gray areas while deepening trust and maturity. With prayer, courage and compassion, parents can impart truth even on the tough stuff.
Some Keys for Difficult Discussions:
Create an environment where kids feel safe confiding questions and struggles. “Be quick to listen, slow to speak” (James 1:19). Ask their perspective compassionately without judgement. Your calm, accepting posture welcomes openness. Meet them where they are.
Discover Their Knowledge First
Before diving in, gently probe what kids already know or believe about the issue. Correct false assumptions. Identify gaps or confusion in their understanding. This prevents either overwhelming or patronizing them. Tailor the discussion to their level.
Use Discernment With Details
While children need a general grasp of topics like sex, drugs and violence at appropriate ages, reserve specifics for when truly relevant. For example, explain the purpose of romantic relationships broadly without details. Consider their maturity and protect innocence.
Address Underlying Motives
Explore not just outward behaviors but the heart motivations that drive them. Why does racism persist? How do lies damage trust? What vulnerability leads to addictions? What emptiness does pornography risk filling? Peel back the layers together.
Anchor Advice in Biblical Truth
Move beyond opinion or logic to what Scripture teaches. Make clear God designed sex for marriage. Lying violates transparency in Christ. Racism counters that all people display God’s image. Point to biblical principles versus just pragmatism.
Put in Historical Context
Help kids consider issues not in isolation but a larger perspective. Discuss the history of racism. Note how social media impacts self-image differently than generations before. Explain changing gender norms through the decades. Give contextual understanding.
While moral truth is clear, the real-world has nuance. Acknowledge dilemmas around topics like war, criminal justice, and mental illness. Share your own internal grappling. Model humility in acknowledging not all fits neatly in a box.
Cast a Redemptive Vision
Alongside addressing problems, inspire kids with hope. Convey that with God there is always forgiveness, healing, freedom from addiction, grace in failure, courage to keep loving. “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). Set their sights on restoration.
Partner with Other Influences
At appropriate times, have kids’ pediatrician explain puberty. Request help from school counselors with self-esteem. Consult your pastor around theological issues. Get qualified outside perspective while still remaining your child’s trusted anchor.
Go at Their Pace
Some kids process slowly. Others ask prolific questions. Respect their individual style and ability to absorb insights. Don’t overwhelm with too much content. Pause and give time for questions. Provide incremental guidance tailored to each child.
Close With Prayer
Talking through raw issues leaves kids’ spirits tender and reflective. End tough discussions praying together. Ask God’s help applying lessons. Pray for affected people. Petition for compassion. Let prayer seal conversations with spiritual growth.
With God’s wisdom and leading, parents can thoughtfully nurture kids through life’s trickiest topics. Difficult dialogues, handled with care, prepare children to face this complex world while deepening family trust and faith. There is no perfect way to handle these conversations because for most of us, it’s the first time to walk through these circumstances. Remember, God is with you and He will guide you.
And, check out a great resource we produced with nextTalk – Safe Conversations at Home – It was a great conversation and resource.
Safe Conversations at Home with nextTalk