Have you had “the talk” with your kid yet?
Oh, I’m not talking about the birds and the bees talk. Hopefully you have that covered, possibly with a PowerPoint presentation and your kids’ vow to never look you in the eyes again.
No, I’m talking about the other things you should talk to your kids about. And like “the talk,” these shouldn’t be just one-time efforts, but part of larger conversations about health, goals and your family’s values.
Here are a few:
This should have come up in your sex talk, but it deserves a talk all on its own. Teens need to understand that they have ultimate authority over their own bodies, potential partners have authority over theirs and that anyone can change their mind at any time.
Make sure they know what consent sounds like. In my house, I’m teaching that a ‘yes’ isn’t enough. Anything that isn’t a “Hell, yes!” is a hard pass. Period.
Hopefully this won’t come up for a loooong time. But it’s important and needs to be instilled early because the failure to get and respect consent can have serious legal, financial and emotional repercussions.
Your kid will learn to read and do algebra in school, but chances are they won’t learn how to handle their finances. So congrats, Mom and Dad: You just opened up the Home School of Debit Cards and Balanced Budgets.
Have your teen sit with you when you make the family budget. Show them how you prioritize needs over wants. Involve them in conversations about large purchases. Get them a debit card and start a savings account.
And maybe you’re not as financially literate as you’d like? Point your kid to some of the excellent online resources starting here and learn together.
Those are important life skills that don’t come naturally to a lot of people. Let your kid see you model these behaviors, then talk about why you think they’re important and how they strengthen character and improve relationships with friends, family and coworkers.
When to tell
Nobody likes a tattletale, you’ve probably told your kid a thousand times. But sometimes it’s important to speak up, even if you have to break a confidence to do it.
Talk to your teen about when it’s appropriate to keep a secret and when it isn’t (hint: when someone’s health or safety is on the line). Then talk about appropriate people to tell. You, of course, trusted teachers and counselors, police and religious leaders might be on the list. And if the first person you tell doesn’t listen? Keep talking until you find someone who does.
Kids who are dating or about to start dating need to know that dating abuse can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere. Like consent, this should be part of the sex talk but deserve follow-up on its own.
And like domestic abuse, dating abuse is shockingly common and can be physical, emotional, financial — any scenario in which a partner in a dating relationship exerts power or control over their partner. Talk about the warning signs and how to find help for themselves or for friends trapped in toxic relationships.