August 20, 2008

Tough Talks

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From the Editors:
As a parent, sometimes just knowing how to start a conversation is a challenge. Here are some of the Dream Team's most personal stories -- and their tips for opening up a dialogue with kids about sensitive issues.

Tackling "The Talk"
One night when our daughter was 5 and our son was 3, my husband was giving the kids a bath. Over the sound of splashing, I heard Sabrina say, "Dad, Kaitlyn S. told me that in France, people kiss with their tongues. Is that true?" My husband -- at that time a Navy officer in charge of running not one, but two nuclear plants on an aircraft carrier -- faintly replied, "I don't know. You'd better go ask your mother." Read more.

Take Back the Internet
Our house was in a state that could only be described as "too quiet." Mommy-radar engaged, I took a quick stroll around the house to look for Julia, 9, and Henry, 7. When I found them, their eyes were locked on the computer screen and Julia was typing madly. The minute they saw me, their expressions revealed that they were not involved in one of our "approved" computer activities. Read more.

Mother-Daughter Journal
It was just before Christmas 2002, and I knew that in a few weeks' time, I'd be on my own with our two kids, Sabrina, then in third grade, and kindergartener Jake. I wasn't worried about taking care of the kids and the house by myself -- as a Navy wife, I'd done that many times before. But this time, my husband wasn't just going out to sea -- he was going to war. I was worried about his safety, of course, but I think I was more worried about how the kids would take it. Would they get depressed? Would they have nightmares? How much CNN was too much? And when they got upset, should I cheer them up, or let them cry? Read more.

Managing the Mean Girls
"Mommy, some of the girls on the playground weren't very nice today," Julia, my 4th-grader, blurted out suddenly over her after-school snack. She was more subdued than usual when I picked her up at school and I could tell that something was amiss. "What happened?" I asked. As I plopped myself down next to her, she rapidly recounted the various playground disagreements that included some very manipulative social maneuverings. Her stories immediately brought back ugly memories of social ostracism, cliques, and meanness that I encountered in sixth grade, Read more.

Keeping Kids Safe
My 13-year-old daughter Sabrina came home after school one day and told me that a teacher had said something that made her feel "weird." Rather than panicking, we decided to use the experience as a "safety drill" to talk about what had made her feel uncomfortable. Read more.

Looking for more creative solutions? Click here to see our best Dream Team stories.

How would you handle these tough talks? Click the comments link below to find and share ideas.

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Tough Talks

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