What to do when your kids won’t talk with you - The Third Talk

What to do when your kids won’t talk with you

Some of you have told me stories about your child refusing to talk about porn.  Hands over ears, fleeing the room, slamming the door.

I’ve been asked, “What should I do when my child flat out refuses to talk?”

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.

Step 1: Acknowledge 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.

If that’s your situation, an apology might work better than anything else.  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.  Demonstrate that you really care about their feelings.

Maybe that’s not it, though.  Maybe your child has absorbed from our society that we don’t talk about sex or porn or whatever…especially not with our parents!

Step 2: Make it normal

The challenge is setting a new precedent.  It feels foreign and uncertain, a little scary.  Create some safety by acknowledging feelings and respecting boundaries.

Maybe the talk doesn’t happen today, so you plan together for when and how it could happen in the future.

Step 3: Keep talking

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.

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