2 Tips for Tackling Tough Topics with Kids
It goes without saying, raising kids in a military family has unique challenges. If you are a homeschooler, you face a few more challenges, as well… because even more of the information your kids gather and interpret and have questions about likely comes during their time spent with you.
SpouseLink guest blogger Vicki DeLuzio noticed in her own parenting that there are some topics that are easier to tackle than others. She shares her thoughts on how to deal with two “tough topics” below.
We homeschool, which may lead you to think that we live life in a bubble.
And while we want to protect our kids of many things, like many other parents, we feel that homeschooling gives us the opportunity to discuss things that our children see in an appropriate manner. These conversations can happen at any time, spontaneously, and are often not extremely comfortable to talk about.
Especially in front of others. And especially in the car while I am driving.
But we talk about different topics nonetheless. Sometimes I will ask my kids to wait until we get home (if we feel that a child might ask something hurtful, unintentionally) or if I am in the middle of a traffic jam. Honestly, talking about sex to a 7-, 4- and 3-year old in Phoenix rush hour traffic is enough to send me over the edge.
Anyhow, the two topics of discussion that have come up this week are big ones — evolution versus biblical principles and kids with autism. Not light topics!
Tough Topic #1: Evolution
We were at our local indoor inflatable jump zone, named “Jumpers Jungle” and our oldest, 7, decided to ask me if he was part monkey. We often joke with him because he is so good at climbing and loves bananas that we might have adopted him from the wild (and sometimes he puts his toes in his mouth — eww!).
Our family is also a Christian family, so we have the Biblical perspective of Adam and Eve being put on Earth versus evolution of people from apes. Not an easy thing for even an adult to choose between. We have also told our oldest that, scientifically, we are classified as “Animals”. He brought this up to a few people randomly, and they were extremely upset and tried to tell him that we are not animals.
So, we spoke about what our family believes — a mix of evolution and Biblical principles — and that we can respectfully disagree with others who don’t believe as we do. And, we can still remain friends because we have other things in common we can share. We don’t have to back down on our beliefs, but we can firmly express our ideas in a respectful manner.
Well, at least we can hope, right?
Tough Topic #2: Autism
Today, we went to a park and my son wanted an orange. I chose one for him and, as he was peeling it, a child who was older than him, grabbed it out of his hand and started eating it. The mom came over and was so apologetic and near tears. My oldest just looked at me confused and I said to the mom, “We always bring enough to share, no worries.” I gave my son another orange and said we could chat later.
We have many friends in our circle with children on the autism spectrum. Many times, I am sure my kids don’t even notice. “Let’s just have fun and run around” is their motto. My kids can float from different activities with little trouble, but I know that we are fortunate. We spoke again about how some people are great at certain things, and others are not. My son said “Well, I wear glasses, so I guess I’m not that great at seeing.”
I gently told him, “But you are great at including people, even those that are different from you.”
He said “Yeah, but that kid just took my orange. I wasn’t really upset, but it was just strange that he did that.”
We spoke about boundaries and how sometimes kids with autism aren’t able to understand that. And, we can be generous (we always bring extra food and toys to share) and that we can firmly say “no” to anyone if we are in an uncomfortable situation, or find an adult. But we keep in mind that kids who are autistic do things differently and we can still have fun.
He nodded and smiled and said, “Yeah, it’s good you always bring enough food for others.”
I smiled and laughed about this. Once upon a time, I didn’t bring enough food and I learned the hard way. My daughter, now 4 but 2 at the time, would find new friends that had food and put her hand out to anyone who had a treat. So, now I make sure we always have enough to share or trade.
Homeschooling can bring about such great, yet difficult and important discussions about the world. I’m so fortunate that I can chat with my kids about things big and small, find out more about their feelings, and even do research about what they are interested in so I can give them the best information.
The past few days have had some challenging discussions, no doubt, but as my kids get to their teenage years (gasp!), I’m hoping these relatively big topics now will have prepared me for even tougher ones.
About Vicki DeLuzio:
Vicki is a mom of three kids five and under. After graduating college in Connecticut with a major in Psychology and minors in Early Childhood Education and Communication, she tried her hand at retail management at Target. Then, while working at the Juvenile Court, she met her web designing (and Army Vet) husband through mutual friends. Wanting a change of pace, cheaper taxes and warmer temperatures, they sold their home and relocated across the country in Surprise, Arizona. Vicki now blogs about all the places they go with reviews about the amenities in Surprise. She is also a licensed Real Estate Agent and loves helping people find homes in the area. You can find her at http://www.surpriseazmom.com.
What’s the “hardest” question your kids ever asked you… and how did you answer it? Let us know in the comments below, or share your story.