Of all the parenting advice swirling around us today, the one I try to practice the most is Honesty is the Best Policy.
My husband and I tell our twins the truth all the time. We always have. If there is an issue we don’t think they are ready to discuss, we delicately direct them to another subject but always with the truth at the core of our actions.
When our boy-girl twins M and J were little, we purposefully used the correct names for body parts and now 9 years later, we encourage them to ask questions about anything. We are sure that the relationship we are building now is the foundation for all that is to come -- especially during the teenage years and early adulthood.
Lately, our daughter has had a lot of questions for us. She loves learning and is curious about everything. It’s a privilege to be part of her growth.
As 3rd graders, both twins hear words and phrases we don’t use in our home -- curses, slang words, and worse. We’ve had candid discussions about why we don’t like words including “stupid” and “idiot” all while teaching them that Mom and Dad sometimes make mistakes and use the very words we’re telling the twins not to use. Again, we tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We grew up learning that telling is a lie is about the worst thing anyone can do.
Lately, I’ve been calmly thinking about how my husband and I will handle topics that are much more complicated -- and important -- than cursing and fibbing. Somehow I thought we had a long time to prepare for THE TALK with our children and I’d silently been collecting facts and phrases for the big day.
So, you can imagine my surprise and picture me choking on my herbal tea the other night when our daughter point-blank asked what the word “sex” means and before we could respond followed that question with these “How do babies really get out?”, “How do they get into a Mommy’s belly?” …and perhaps most poignantly “Do you know anyone that is Gay and has a baby?” !
Gasping for air, listening to our wall clock tick loudly during a long awkward silence, we paused, and wiping the sweat from our respective brows, my husband and made eye contact and exchanged the deep knowledge that we had arrived at one of the biggest parenting moments we’d ever face (and we’d better get it right!). Thoughts were racing through my head -- how could our daughter even know to ask these questions in 3rd grade? How much do we tell her? Where do we begin? Eeek!!
Taking deep breathes, my husband and I settled into the couch with our not-so-little-girl and we did the one thing we know how to do: we told her the truth. She listened -- sometimes wide-eyed -- to us tell her the facts of life. She asked more questions. She pondered. She hugged us. At first we both felt like we were jumping into mid-air but by the end of our chat, we were on firm ground again…that is until the next set of questions.
“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth;
not going all the way, and not starting.” -- Buddha
Laura Rossi Totten is a blogger and a public relations expert. Laura’s writing has been featured in many places including on the NPR station WRNI-FM. GalleyCat/MediaBistro named her a “2011 Best Book Publicity and Marketing Twitter feed.” She’s written for SheWrites.com and CircleofMoms.com. Visit Laura’s blog My So-Called Sensory Life: 365 Unexpected Gifts from Motherhood and her website Laura Rossi Public Relations. Follow her on Twitter and on Pinterest.