When Should Parents Talk to Children About Difficult Subjects?

black father

black father

The world can be a scary place. We are bombarded with news about terrorism, wars, human trafficking, natural disasters, and other horrific events. As parents, we want to protect our children from the evil in the world and preserve their innocence as long as we can. Despite our best efforts to shield them, our kids will hear about these events and ask questions about them.

But how do parents determine what to explain and when? I asked a few parents to share their thoughts on this topic.

“I am a very blunt and real dad,” said Dominic via twitter. “My kids are 14, 12, and9 and they are very aware of evil in world. We don’t sugar coat things.”

Sheila Gregoire, syndicated columnist, speaker, and award-winning author, agreed with the direct approach.

“I always talk about scary things,” she said. “I even let them watch 9/11 as it was happening. My goal was to teach them that God is bigger than the evil in this world.”

However, some parents prefer a subtler approach.

“When I need to address difficult topics with my son, I say ‘grab a mitt and let’s throw a ball around for a minute,'” said Don Bosch, from Honor Dads. “For the girls it’s ‘we haven’t just talked in way too long…how about ice cream?'”

Marian Williams also prefers to discuss serious topics in a comfortable, non-threatening environment.

“The best time to bring up these subjects is in the car on a long ride,” she said. “Because they don’t have to look you in the eyes, they don’t clam up.”

Many parents admitted that they are reluctant to talk about scary or sensitive topics because they are scared. They fear that they won’t know what to say. They fear that their child is too young to understand. They fear that that may cause more confusion. Although these fears are legitimate, they must be overcome. Parents are the best source of information. It is our responsibility to speak truth into our children’s lives and help them to understand and cope with the world that they live in.

Before addressing difficult topics, it’s important for parents to assess their child. Each child is different and you have to approach him or her in a way that will be most effective. For example, I can be very blunt when I discuss matters with my 14-year old daughter because I know that she has the maturity and cognitive ability to process the information. My 7-year old son, on the other hand, has a vivid imagination and is prone to nightmares. I have to be very careful how I talk to him about scary topics because I don’t want to frighten him.

I discussed this topic in-depth on Houston Matters with Dr. Megan Mooney, a child psychologist at DePelchin Children’s Center. Listen to the audio below and share your thoughts in the comments section.

Stay Strong,

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Join the conversation: When is the right time to talk to children about difficult topics?

About author

Frederick J. Goodall

Frederick J. Goodall is the founder of Mocha Dad - a parenting website focused on fatherhood. He is passionate about parenting and helping men to be great dads, husbands, and role models. You can contact him at fjgoodall@mochadad.com or on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/mochadad