Hard Conversations are...Hard!
It seems like every day there is something new on the news that is scary, or disappointing, or anger inducing. I constantly find myself trying to change the news channel or separating myself from social media only to be bombarded with another story that makes me shake my head. It can be extremely overwhelming and anxiety provoking. This can be especially hard for parents of children or teens. How do you explain to a child that you’re scared for them to go to school? How do you have these hard conversations that shouldn’t be happening in the first place?
No matter how much we avoid, or don’t want to, hard conversations will always need to happen. Whether it be about the news going on, or even difficult personal conversations. I often am asked by parents how to have these conversations, that the unknown of how a child or teen will react is often too overwhelming to try.
It is true, these conversations never come easy, but the more we avoid them for fear of upsetting someone, the worse it can be. Has anyone ever waited to tell you some important news for fear of hurting you, and you thought to yourself “I wish I could’ve dealt with this sooner?”, children and teens are the same way. Just like you can tell when your child is struggling, they can sense when you are too, and the longer you avoid it the more distressed they can become. While it’s important to find the right place to tell them, it’s also important to talk with them as soon as you’re able to.
It’s okay for these conversations to not go perfectly either. Showing your own distress can help your child or teen to believe that it’s okay to feel sad or upset by these things. If you can model how to express your feelings with them, they’ll be able to express their feelings right back. Even if they don’t want to talk about it right away, you’ve opened the door for them to ask you questions, to express when their feelings when they feel like they can.
Hard conversations won’t just go away and they will never stop being hard conversations. As much as we want them to. What can make it easier though, is allowing ourselves grace to not be perfect. To convey the message that these hard conversations are safe to have, even if they are difficult.
-Mary Patalano LMFT