Category Archives: Difficult conversations with our children
How could it be so simple? Basic thoughts. Basic feelings. I love it. I absolutely love this image. The hard part is actually figuring out how to let go and do these things.
This past week, I’ve been thinking a great deal about being kind and honest as we talk to others about emotional topics. Being honest is definitely the best way to go, and kindness, well, how can you go wrong when you’re speaking from the heart in a manner that touches someone else?
Emotional conversations are never easy and I have to admit, I’ve been sort of terrible with them in my past, but I’m learning, and no matter if you need to talk to a coworker, a boss, your spouse, or your kids, what you say matters. Maybe you’re introducing something heartfelt from you for a first time to someone else, and you have been holding it in for so long, it’s hard to know where to start. Or in my case, the topic is so difficult, you feel overwhelmed instantly.
1. Know what you want to say.
With my children. I read some material online first. I had to decide what I wanted to say and how others made the conversation work with their kids. I knew I wanted to be honest. I knew I needed to communicate my uncle had passed away because his body was tired. I knew I wanted my kids to know people would be sad at the funeral. Our family wouldn’t see him anymore, and it’s ok to be sad. I just didn’t know where to begin, and I definitely didn’t want my kids thinking I was sick and possibly leaving them too.
With my spouse or coworker. Same thing applies, but when you’re researching, I think it’s always best to pull from the most recent event and keep to a handful of examples. That way, you have a chance to relate back to their memory, and they won’t be so busy trying to figure out what you’re talking about, that they don’t listen to your words.
With my kids, I made sure I was completely calm. I didn’t want to talk to them when I was cooking dinner and they would be running around with their toys. I wanted to look them in the eyes. I wanted them to see my face. And the words? I thought about some simple analogies in the research I dug up: Batteries and toys. Our batteries in our toys go out and we need to replace them, and then sometimes our toys just don’t work anymore. Batteries don’t always fix them. We also talked about emotion. And when we don’t see someone we care about, how we feel sad and we want to see them. And that’s ok. It’s ok to miss someone. It’s ok to cry. And sometimes we just give hugs to make it better.
3. Time and Place to hold your discussion.
I mentioned this one above, but with my kids, we actually held three separate discussions and we built on each one, because I knew, sometimes we can become overloaded. That’s why simple is best, so we first talked about visiting Wichita. Then we talked about the reason we were visiting Wichita. The batteries. Then we talked about emotion, being sad, and the importance of hugs.
On Friday, two days before we headed out to Wichita to see my family and stay the night with my dad, my husband comes through the front door after getting home from work. My son runs down the steps to open the door for him. When my husband walks in, our son quickly says, “Daddy, Uncle Gerald passed away. His family is going to miss him and they might be sad. But it’s okay to be sad daddy.”
I couldn’t be more proud. I knew I reached him, and I knew he was ok with what had happened to Uncle Gerald. I know this topic is a bit heavy today, but life is heavy sometimes and we learn to find the positives in everything. So be kind, be thoughtful, and be helpful to others as you engage in emotional conversations. It helps others understand your world, their world, and how to bridge our world, this giant place we live.