Welcome to the March 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Tough Conversations
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have spoken up about how they discuss complex topics with their children. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
It was one of those moments. I was running what was supposed to be a quick errand to the hardware store in the middle of a home improvement project. I was holding the hand of my oldest child, who was four at the time, had my second child in the sling, and carried supplies in my other hand. We had raced through the store in record time and were waiting in line at the check-out. It was at that moment that my almost four year old voiced a question in a normal speaking volume, which at that moment seemed to me to have been blared through the speakers for everyone to hear and stare at me.
“Mommy? Why is that man so short?” He had spotted the cashier at the check-out, a man who may or may not have been as tall as his own almost four year old stature. I felt the internal cringe. Surely everyone was staring at me with my son blurting out such an insensitive, and completely innocent, question. My immediate thought was to say “Shh! We’ll talk about it later.” Years of ingrained societal values of not calling out differences screamed to me that speaking about someone’s difference would be viewed as incredibly rude.
That was when I gave a quick glance at the cashier and realized that even if he wasn’t looking our way, he would hear what I told my son. Saying I would tell him later in an attempt not to embarrass someone didn’t seem like such a great idea. By not addressing the question directly, it seemed like there would be some shame brought to this man’s height or that I might be saying something unkind.
Instead, in that split second after my son asked, I decided to be honest in a normal speaking volume. I explained that people came in all sizes and reminded him how his father was once height but his uncles were another, how his grandmother was another height and so on. I went on to explain that it is our differences which make us unique and that together, our differences make a wonderfully diverse world. My son was content with his answer, and my heart beat a little faster as we made our way to the check out for our turn. I wondered if I had chosen the wrong approach in order to not offend this unknown man.
And then he smiled at me as he rang up our purchase, and I knew I had made the right decision.
Visit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon March 12 with all the carnival links.)
- A Difficult Conversation— Kellie at Our Mindful Life is keeping her mouth shut about a difficult topic.
- Discussing Sexuality and Objectification With Your Child — At Authentic Parenting, Laura is puzzled at how to discuss sexuality and objectification with her 4-year-old.
- Tough Conversations— Kadiera at Our Little Acorn knows there are difficult topics to work through with her children in the future, but right now, every conversation is a challenge with a nonverbal child.
- Real Talk — Jennifer atHybrid Rasta Mamaexplains why there are no conversation topics that are off limits with her daughter, and how she ensures that tough conversations are approached in a developmentally appropriate manner.
- From blow jobs to boob jobs and lots of sex inbetween — Mrs Greentalks candidly about boob jobs and blow jobs…
- When Together Doesn’t Work — Ashley atDomestic Chaos discusses the various conversations her family has had in the early stages of separation.
- Talking To Children About Death — Luschka atDiary of a First Child is currently dealing with the terminal illness of her mother. In this post she shares how she’s explained it to her toddler, and some of the things she’s learned along the way.
- Teaching 9-1-1 To Kids— Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling talks about the importance of using practical, age-appropriate emergency scenarios as a springboard for 9-1-1 conversations.
- Preschool Peer Pressure — Lactating Girlstruggles to explain to her preschooler why friends sometimes aren’t so friendly.
- Frank Talk — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalisunpacks a few conversations about sexuality that she’s had with her 2-year-old daughter, and her motivation for having so many frank discussions.
- When simple becomes tough — A natural mum manages oppositional defiance in a toddler atUrsula Ciller’s Blog.
- How Babies are Born: a conversation with my daughter — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger tries to expand her daughter’s horizons while treading lightly through the waters of pre-K social order.
- Difficult Questions & Lies: 4 Reasons to Tell The Truth — Ariadne ofPositive Parenting Connection shares the potential impact that telling lies instead of taking the time to answer difficult questions can have on the parent-child relationship.
- Parenting Challenges–when someone dies — Survivor at Surviving Mexico writes about talking to her child about death and the cultural challenges involved in living in a predominantly Catholic nation.
- Daddy Died — Breaking the news to your children that their father passed away is tough. Erica atChildOrganics shares her story.
- Openness —sustainablemum prepares herself for the day when she has to tell her children that a close relative has died.
- Embracing Individuality— At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy addressed a difficult question in public with directness and honesty.
- Making the scary or different okay — Although she tries to listen more than she talks about tough topics, Jessica Claire ofCrunchy-Chewy Mamaalso values discussing them with her children to soften the blow they might cause when they hit closer to home.
- Talking to My Child About Going Gluten Free— When Dionna at Code Name: Mama concluded that her family would benefit from eliminating gluten from their diet, she came up with a plan to persuade her gluten-loving son to find peace with the change. This is how they turned the transition to a gluten-free lifestyle into an adventure rather than a hardship.
- How Does Your Family Explain Differences and Approach Diversity? — How do you and your family approach diversity? Gretchen of That Mama Gretchen shares her thoughts at Natural Parents Network and would like to hear from readers.
- Discussing Difficult Topics with Kids: What’s Worked for Me — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares parenting practices that enabled discussions of difficult topics with her (now-adult) children to be positive experiences.
- Tough Conversations— Get some pointers from Jorje of Momma Jorje on important factors to keep in mind when broaching tough topics with kids.
- Sneaky people — Lauren at Hobo Mama has cautioned her son against trusting people who’d want to hurt him — and hopes the lessons have sunk in.
- Mommy, What Does the Bible Say? — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work works through how to answer a question from her 4-year-old that doesn’t have a simple answer.
- When All You Want for Them is Love: Adoption, Abandonment, and Honoring the Truth — Melissa at White Noisetalks about balancing truth and love when telling her son his adoption story.
That really does seem like the best way to handle it. I know the grownup-manners part of me cringes when my son loudly asks about someone else in public (“Why is that man in a wheelchair?” “Why does that lady look like that?” etc.), but I know if I respond matter-of-factly and without judgment, it’s respectful to both him and the person he’s asking about.
Mandy, such a great post and response. We have all been in those moments and I think you are so right that it’s important to be honest and kind and address the question then and there, rather than dismissing it for later.
I enjoyed your post. Taking the time to address the question right then instead of waiting until later reinforced the idea to your child that there was nothing shameful about the topic of difference.
You handled that beautifully – I’m going to keep that response tucked away for the inevitable moment it crops up with my kids!
~Dionna @ CodeNameMama.com
What a lovely response to a reasonable question. Our children teach us so much, something I am so grateful for every day.
Thanks for sharing! Great response! Kids ask anything — why people are wearing a certain colored shirt, why someone has a hat on backwards… They are all just details and to make some seem okay while others are not teaches there is something wrong with “difference.” Congrats on having the presence of mind to just be with what was in front of you!
Gosh; that actually bought tears to my eyes. I love how you handled that – with elegance and grace. Thank you so much for sharing x
Thank you so much for being straightforward.
We hear a lot of questions like that from other kids, about feeding tubes and tracheostomies and medical devices that my kids have. And we don’t mind the questions…but we mind the reactions from parents that make it clear they’re afraid of answering, or afraid of us…or mad that we’ve interrupted their day by making their child ask a hard question.