How Parents Should Talk About Sensitive Family Issues With Their Children

5:37 PM

Talking with children about sensitive issues is not easy. Because of the level of thinking of many children, parents cannot always expect to be understood in the way they are wiling to explain. One thing is clear though, sensitive issues cannot be evaded forever. It is always best that children hear hard facts from parents instead of unverified story versions from others.

Sensitive Family Issues

In every family, even among seemingly perfect ones, there are certain issues that touch a raw nerve. This pertains to matters that families would rather not talk about because they tend to bring back painful memories. These are very sensitive family issues that can result to hurt feelings or alienation among family members.

The main thing about sensitive family issues is that they tend to come out in the open, sooner or later. Often, the more questions are evaded, the more questions arise. Examples of sensitive family issues include reason for separation of parents, infidelity and the existence of another family, and the like.

When Children Start Asking Questions

Children are actually more intelligent of the facts of life than what we give them credit for. They may not know the exact story but they feel and recognize certain undercurrents that prod them to ask questions. They know when parents are bluffing, evading their question, or out-rightly telling a lie. They may be silenced for some time but they will come back to ask the same questions until they are satisfied with the answer they get.

Telling the truth may be for the best interest of everyone but it is usually the most difficult thing to do with sensitive family issues. This is especially so if the one asking for an explanation is a child who parents believe may not be fully equipped to understand decisions made by adults. There is however, no going around the issue and facing children's questions require parents to be truthful and sensitive to the feelings of a child.

How to Go About Answering Difficult Questions of Children

Parents should realize that the time for reckoning will come and they should be ready for it. They must be able to provide their answers that can be understood by the level of thinking of a child as determined by his or her age. They can be spared the gory details but must be given the essential truths of the circumstances.

The main objective of explaining to a child is not to create animosity or gap between family members. It is a fact however that the truth sometimes result to this. The challenge lies in preserving family unity and respect in spite of the painful truths.

My Say

As a teenage wife who then had to suffer the pain and humiliation of catching an unfaithful husband, I am willing to concede that I could have handled my eldest child's questions a lot better. I tried to make myself believe that saying nothing to her would save her the pain of knowing the truth. Instead, I sent the wrong message that made her think that I was to blame for the breakdown of my first marriage because of my unforgiving stance. It took quite some time before she understood after I started opening up myself to her.

Yesterday, my teenage son made some mathematical calculations and was questioning me about the discrepancy of my eldest daughter's year of birth and the year of my marriage to his father which was a good 16 years difference . My husband and I have not yet come to the part of explaining the real situation to him and his younger sister and they have always known my eldest child as their older sister with no ifs nor buts.

I expect to be having a talk with my son very soon. I used to be afraid as I wondered if my younger children will think any less of me once they know what really happened. Today, I am confident enough to expect that nothing will change in our family except perhaps to draw us closer as our humanity gets exposed to one another. Of course, knowing that I was not the offending party helps a lot in my confidence. It would be so awkward to be preaching honesty and fidelity to my children if I did not practice it.

That said, the primary reason why I decided to reveal a very personal side of me through this blog is to leave answers to my children just in case they didn't hear me right the first time. There will be a right time for everything and parents will know that time to talk about sensitive family issues with their children when it comes. Build love and respect first in the family and every sensitive family issue will eventually find its resolution.

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