“I don’t’ want to go to school.” My ten year-old daughter’s arms were crossed, and she wasn’t budging from the worn square of our kitchen tile. “You have to go,” I said sternly. “Dad and I have to go to work and you have to go to school. That’s just the way it is.” She looked at the ground, paused a moment and said, “No. I’m not going.”
What do I do? I wondered with frustration. This had been going on for two months. I followed all of my own advice and the advice of others as I tried to figure out how to get my daughter over this phase of hating school. My husband and I met several times with her teacher as well as the school counselor; I questioned her endlessly to be sure she wasn’t being bullied or treated poorly at school; I consulted with other professionals; and we met with her pediatrician. We did it all. Everyone kept saying there must be something going on.
My daughter was president of the student council, a member of safety patrol, in the gifted and talented program, and well-behaved. She had friends that often came over to play, and she was excited about beginning middle school. Yet we began each morning with the struggle of getting her out the door, and we ended each day with her pleas to be homeschooled. Many tears were shed (by both of us), but nothing of substance was going on. My daughter was just done with fifth grade.
In her mind, fifth grade was over. She was finished—except the school year was not over. There were still three more months to endure: three more months of crying; three more months of begging to stay home; three more months of listening to all of the well-thought-out reasons of why she needed to stay home. My husband, Tom, and I were exasperated. I had spent years counseling parents and their children for many issues that families face. Yet I looked in the mirror and wondered, Who is the expert now? Who’s the expert now?!
One of our most humbling experiences is to be a parent. It doesn’t matter how many degrees we have, kids will find a way to show us that there is still so much more to learn. Society provides us with challenges to raising healthy children, yet kids, in all of their creative individualism, will also find ways to push the limits of our abilities to parent. Doubting ourselves and wondering if we are messing-up our children’s futures is often a daily struggle.
As a school counselor, I frequently get calls from frustrated parents. Parents reach the point with their children where they don’t know what to do anymore. They have tried everything they know to get their children to make the best choices, and nothing is working. Parenting children today is more challenging than ever because so many outside forces influence the healthy development of kids.
Parenting, though, is an amazing experience. Watching our children develop into young adults is breathtaking, and it becomes even more profound as we watch them grow into their own role as parents while we gratefully embrace our new position as grandparents.
In this journey, we can’t shield our children from the world as they mature into adults. They will encounter questionable—if not frightening—situations and they will make choices with which we don’t agree. It’s not our children’s job to live the lives we choose for them, and it is not our job to micromanage their development. Yet it is our job to prepare them for their journey by providing them with the tools that will help them make the best choices for their lives. It is our job to teach them about the options available for them in this world and guide them as they choose what is right for their lives. We can teach them about healthy relationships, how to make choices based on what feels right for them, and what pitfalls to avoid in life. We provide the filter through which our children view the world, and we give them the resources needed to make healthy choices.
10 Must-Have Conversations with Your Kids is a guide for you to know what topics are essential to discuss with your children. I have worked with children for many years as a school counselor and a private therapist. I discovered early in my career that children often don’t know what we think they know. The issues discussed in this book are the ones children ask me. As parents and guardians, we assume that some things are just common sense, and our children don’t need us to clarify how to handle problems. Yet many kids don’t have these tools available because no one has thought to teach them the basics.
Our role as parents and guardians requires us to prepare our children for the bigger world, and these conversations are an integral part of helping children stay safe and make wise choices. We can’t ignore talking to our kids about these issues because the issues are waiting for our children to find them. Preparing them for these encounters is a requirement of good parenting. We will face many parenting issues that baffle us—as I did with my daughter’s school avoidance—but the ten topics discussed in this book are basic conversations that parents and children need to have. These conversations will provide the framework for our children to prepare them for their future.
As our children grow into adulthood, we can relax and see the bigger journey with which they are embarking. We will trust that they can guide their own lives with confidence and joy, and after a few nostalgic tears, we’ll begin making plans to remodel their bedrooms. Life has come full-circle.
What are the really important conversations to have with your children? What situations do you want to prepare your children for in life? What topics are important for your children’s well-being?
10 Must-Have Conversations with Your Kids is your guidebook for talking to your children. Learn what they need to know and how to talk to them about important subjects. Take the mystery and confusion out of talking to your children about drugs, sex, values, safety, technology, and much more. Learn how these discussions can strengthen your relationship with your children and provide them with the resources needed to live safe and happy lives.
About the Author
Michelle Farias, MA, LPC, is a licensed professional counselor. She has experience as a therapist, public speaker, consultant, and teacher. She lives in Texas with her husband, two children, and five dogs.