If you're caring for a young person, then the question of when and how to have "the talk" with them has likely crossed your mind. It's generally understood to be one of the more dreaded moments of raising a young person, because it's awkward for everyone involved and seems like an awful lot to have to do all at once.
But it doesn't have to be an awkward, embarrassing, weird metaphors about birds and bees filled discussion. And it not only doesn't have to be all at once, it shouldn't be.
You've probably seen all kinds of adults writing about teens and sex. Some of that writing is well-researched and thoughtful. Some -- most, sadly -- is hysterical and full of fearmongering and shoddy (or no) research. I was lucky enough to interview an author who belongs solidly in the first category.
Ways to connect with the teens in your life
What can you do to stay connected without becoming the main component of their social lives?
Helping a teen through a break-up
If the teen in your life is dating, odds are there's a break-up in their future and yours. Break-ups suck, and they suck the most for the person experiencing them. But that doesn't mean it's pleasant to watch someone you love go through one, and you may feel at a loss as to how to handle it. Here are some tips to help you go about it.
For two years, I worked in a bookstore that was aimed primarily at children and teenagers. It was a job I quite enjoyed, but I quickly discovered that when you work near books, people always want to tell you their opinions on said books. That's fine most of the time. But I noticed a pattern when parents or adults would refer to The Hunger Games series. They would express dismay over a child wanting to read the book, wondering what they saw in it, and either implicitly or explicitly stating that they thought the book was not good for youth to be reading.
What struck me about these conversations was that ninety-nine percent of the time, the adult in question had not even read the book they were criticizing. They dismissed it, either as inappropriate trash or as mindless fiction without ever actually seeing what it had to say.
Quite a few young people have come to us with this scenario: a parent has told their child that they are open to talking about contraception. But when the young people bring this up with us, they sometimes say that even though that invitation was extended, they don't feel comfortable picking it up and asking for that help, or can't figure out how.
I absolutely see what I am sure are usually the best of intentions with this invitation. But I'd like to suggest an alternative that will probably work better.
Our societies are chock full of norms and ideals of beauty, and we all run up against them eventually. These norms and expectations often have a hand in shaping how we feel about our own bodies. When you're a teen and trying to sort out how to feel comfortable in your changing body, these messages can be very potent indeed.
So, what can you do - and what shouldn't you do - to help teens feel at home in their own skin?
It's a perennial cliché in nearly every coming of age movie, book, and sitcom. An adolescent or emerging adult character brings home a new boyfriend or girlfriend, who is met with dismay or disapproval by parents.
So how do you go about working out whether or not your concerns are valid, and what to do about them if they are?
Mental illness is often a hard thing to talk about even at the best of times. There's still so much stigma attached to it and mental healthcare, and a lot of misconceptions about what someone with a mental illness looks or acts like. It can be doubly scary and intimidating if the person dealing with that illness is your child.
What can you do to create a more supportive environment for a child who may be coping with mental illness?