Parenting, Relationships, What's On Our Mind

The FIVE (awkward) MUST-HAVE conversations to have with your teen

Brooke by Brooke
October 30th, 2015

They say that the best time to have serious and awkward conversations with your kids is when you are driving. The fact you are not looking directly at each other it is easier to talk about things that maybe are a little uncomfortable. I don’t know who ‘they’ are that said this but they are on the money. Whenever my parents wanted to find out things going on in my life when I was a teenager, they would wait until we were in the car. The no eye contact did make things easier, and then there’s also the fact that they had basically trapped me.

I remember my sitting next to my mum when I was 15 and her asking me if I had tried smoking yet? I lied about that one. Then she asked me on another trip if I had tried alcohol, for some reason I was honest with her about this. I told her that at the parties kids were starting to drink and that I was trying it. I think because I was honest with her, it kinda built a bit more trust and I never felt I needed to lie to her about what I was getting up to. I maybe didn’t tell the WHOLE truth but she knew what she needed to.

Now I am a mum, one day I’m going to have those chats with my daughter too, and yes, I will totally do it while she is trapped in the car.

I am only 32 but even so the childhood I had will be SO different to my little girls. It makes me feel like an old bag saying this but everything seems to start earlier and earlier – sex, drugs, drinking, body image issues, and on top of those things we all went though, my gal will have social media. She’ll see cool young people drinking and smoking and think it’s cool. Just thinking about it all is seriously stresssssful.

 (Please note: This post is bought to you by Drinkwise, but is 100% my own story and views, Brooke)

I was sitting around with some friends recently, all of us were mums, and we were talking about the most important conversations we are going to need to have with our teenagers – some of whom are are already teens and others who are on their way. I am not there yet (although my seventh month old does rock some skinny jeans and give me a lot to attitude) but in the blink of eye she will be a stinky teen wearing too much eyeliner and wanting to go out with her mates.

There are loads of important convo’s that need to be had during the teen years, but these are five that we covered the other night.

1. ’Mo ‘Money ‘mo problems

I started working the day it was legal for me get a job (14 and nine months)and I will be kicking my daughter out the house to get a casual job too. Earning and appreciating money when you are young helps SO much when you are older and dealing with big people’s bills and mortagaes etc. Where’s My Money author Jason Cunningham says it’s important to help kids make smart decisions with their income. “We need to teach them to put away a percentage of their income. Some for savings, some to spend. With young kids, I’d suggest two piggy banks, but with teens, two separate bank accounts – one that’s not easily accessed in which to put their savings, one that’s specifically for spending.”

2. Drinking
Drinking, and binge-drinking in particular, is a huge part of the Aussie culture for some reason. Research shows that the majority of teens start drinking two years before the legal age, but many start a lot earlier than this too. I know I did.
We need to empower teenagers to make good decisions about alcohol because there really is no avoiding it.
Our kids watch our habbits with alcohol too (no pressure).Parenting expert, Michael Grose says alcohol education starts in the home. If you like a wine with dinner at home he says try and have a grog-free night or two each week and try to celebrate without alcohol to show your teens that you can enjoy yourself without drinking.

Us parents also need to consider the language we use around drinking. We need to think about what our teenager might think when we come home from work after a long day and say something along the lines of, ‘I’ve had the day from hell, I need a wine.’ I am SO guilty of this. Luckily I don’t think my seven month old understands mummy’s vino demands just yet.

Dr Andrew Rochford has teamed up with Drinkwise to create a super useful Five Point Plan to help parents. Check out the video
here: https://drinkwise.org.au/parents/how-to-deal-with-teen-drinking/#. Sometimes it feels overwhelming to know how to talk about things like drinking with kids so hopefully this video helps.

3. You ARE beautiful

It’s no secret that an unhealthy body image in childhood can have long- lasting consequences as an adult. I was lucky growing up that I never once heard my mum talk about her weight or dieting. I now know that she was often on diets, but I never knew about it. In fact, I can still recall the time I really started to become conscious of my body and it wasn’t until I was 20 years old. Before that, I’d never really thought about it. I was lucky that when outside influences started to enter my head I had been well-equipped with a good sense of body image because we were celebrated at home for having strong, awesome bodies that worked.

Child psychiatrist Dr. Aaron Krasner advises parents to do such things as talk to our teenagers about appreciating what our body can do, just how it looks, praise them for things that aren’t related to appearance and don’t comment on things like weight and diet food. Such good advice, I am going to be practicing these things right now for my little babe.

4. Let’s talk about sex ba-by…

This is always the most dreaded conversation for parents. No one wants to talk to their parents about sex. EVER. Ewww.
But the risks of not having a clear conversation with your teen about sex are obvious – and can be serious. if you’re putting it off because you’re feeling uncomfortable it, just think how much more uncomfortable you will feel discussing a teenage pregnancy, STD’s or even worse, or sexual assault your teen was involved in.

Once you start the conversation and your teen knows your comfortable talking about it, the more they will ask you. In fact, research shows that teens report that their parents have the greatest influence over their decisions about sex—more than friends, siblings, or the media.

5. Acceptance of others

It’s always the kids at school who are different that get bullied. I know it was like that when I was at school and nothing has changed. Maybe they wear  glasses, maybe they are a different colour than the majority of the kids, and maybe they are homosexual. Whatever the difference is, we need to teach our kids tolerance form an early age.

Racism is an unfortunate reality of life that your child is going to come across, but that doesn’t mean they have to accept it. From the time your child is young you can show them that they should judge a person by how they act and what they say, not by what they look like. To do this, us parents need to show tolerance and respect in our own lives and expose our kids to different multicultural communities through such things as music and festivals.

The goal here is that by the time your child turns into a teen they will know that differences should be celebrated.

The Kids Helpline advise parents to actively challenge stereotyping to help your children rise above the discriminatory lessons they may inadvertently learn from friends, television, and even textbooks.

Do you have any advice for having these convo’s with your teens?

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