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When kids stonewall
Some of you have told me stories about your kids refusing to talk about sex. Hands over ears, fleeing the room, slamming the door.
That stonewalling can be very discouraging! And…the ball is in your court. You, the parent, the adult, have to decide if this is important to you. I know it is, or you wouldn’t be here right now.
The first step is to acknowledge their feelings. Your child is telling you that they are uncomfortable, and that’s a boundary to be respected.
If, in the past, you’ve overrun your child’s boundaries, they might be very forceful about this situation, very loud, glaring, storming out of the room. They might have learned to be that defensive, because a lighter touch didn’t work so well. Therefore, they slam. They become really assertive, offensively so.
If that’s your situation, you might need to apologize. Soften things by acknowledging that you haven’t always respected their feelings, and you’re listening now.
There might be a lot to process here, a lot of listening to do. The key is to not become defensive yourself. Let the “you never”s slide. It’s not actually true (we all know that!), but it is an accurate description of how your child feels and what their self-talk sounds like.
Instead of trying to convince them with your words, let your presence and tone right here right now contradict what your child is saying. Rather than hearing it, they need to feel it to heal.
Maybe that’s not it. Maybe your family is great with feelings and boundaries. Maybe your child has absorbed from our society that we don’t talk about sex or porn or whatever…especially not with our parents!
In that case there’s no wound to heal, just a new precedent to set. It feels foreign and uncertain, a little scary. You’ll need to create some safety by acknowledging feelings and respecting boundaries. Maybe the talk doesn’t happen today, but you plan for when and how it could happen in the future.
Listen, Listen, Listen…then push
When you’ve given ground 3 or 5 or 10 times, it’s time to push. Yes, you are allowed to push your child’s boundaries, especially when it’s for their own benefit.
Tie it to a milestone. “Now that you’re _____ (starting middle school, turning 13, entering puberty, etc), it’s time we had some conversations about _____ (sex, porn, romantic relationships, etc). How can we make this as comfortable as possible for you?” Then start brainstorming.
Don’t give up!
Your child may be uncomfortable now, but with the right strategy, you can move past that. Wounds heal and boundaries move and comfort zones expand.
But it can be very confusing when you’re in the thick of it, and your uncertainty will be felt by your child, adding to their uncertainty.
An outside perspective maybe just what you need to get to a place of calm confidence. Grab a spot on my calendar and we’ll figure out how to get those open ongoing conversations started. Let’s move you forward and get this ball rolling.
In support of you,
P.S. Looking for other parents who’ve been through this already? Our Parents Support Group will welcome you with open arms! You can join at just that level, or become a member to gain access to the video library as well as the Parents Support Group and other perks.