Caroline Manzo on Tough Talks with Kids: How to Have a Difficult Conversation with Your Child

Raising a child in today’s world is no easy task, as we live in a society that is driven by social media and the cyber world. The issues that our children are exposed to are far more complex than anything we had to deal with growing up.


As parents, it is our duty to prepare our children for what sometimes can be a very cruel and unforgiving world.  The biggest mistake you can make is to shield your child from the realities of life. We aren’t going to live forever; we have to teach our children the basic law of survival. That includes everything, the good the bad, and the ugly. 


Kids love to talk, and they love to ask questions too, so let them. Listen to what they’re saying to you, answer questions openly and honestly, but keep in mind that they may not be able to process what you’re saying, so speak slowly and clearly. Delivery is important, I don’t believe in sugar coating things, but full disclosure isn’t always the answer either. Use your judgment, some things may be better left unsaid but don’t run from the subject, just edit the things that may be too much for their little minds to absorb.


Every child is different, some are more aware of their surroundings and are pretty in tune to what’s going on and on the flip side there are kids that live in complete oblivion to what’s going on in the world around them.  If you can have an open dialogue without overloading their minds that’s wonderful, do so with patience and honesty.  Remember that you are talking to a child, tread slowly, and let them ask questions.  If it becomes too confusing, slow down, back up and regroup, you don’t want to scare them.


Do not lie! Children are very intuitive, they can spot a lie from a mile away, they also watch and learn what they live. Actions sometimes speak louder than words. If you are sad, tell them why, if you are angry don’t let your anger get the best of you. Positive reinforcement is the objective. Our kid’s look to us for answers, and when we speak our word is golden in their eyes, don’t disappoint them by allowing bitterness or anger get the best of you. Don’t abuse their trust.


I believe there are things that happen every single day that need to be addressed with out children no matter how old they are. Teach them when they’re young. Start having conversations early, and as they grow your kids will become more and more comfortable initiating conversation when they have something on their mind.


Ask their opinion, tell them how you feel, this open communication prepares them for everyday life. In every conversation you are building their character, developing their moral fiber, teaching them right from wrong, compassion, trust, tolerance, and empathy.


Life lessons are very important, critical at times. Life is full of surprises; you never know what can happen from one minute to the next. Having honest communication on a regular bases may be the deciding factor from your child making a bad decision or putting themselves in a dangerous situation.


As difficult as it may be to address an uncomfortable subject with your child it is far more difficult to deal with the consequences of an under prepared child in unforeseen circumstances. We can't press rewind when something goes wrong, find the time, sit down, get comfortable, and talk to your kids.