5 Tips for Having Embarrassing Conversations with Your Kids

5 Tips for Having Embarrassing Conversations with Your Kids

Embarrassing conversations can be hard, but they are so important to have with your child!

After the stunning death of Cory Monteith, an US magazine article quoted a source, which said, “He was not a typical addict…He was the nicest, sweetest guy.” What a dangerous, dangerous statement. There is no such thing as a “typical” addict. The truth is, our kids, no matter how sweet and nice and talented and special they are, can end up on that path. That’s the reality, one that is even more frightening for parents of high-risk ADHD kids. Cory Monteith’s death is heartbreaking – and it is a wakeup call that it’s time for parents to start talking.

It’s not too late. Whatever the age of your child:

Start having embarrassing conversations.  Teach them to face life’s challenges, embarrassments and shames, and take the judgment away. Think it’s too early? Cory started using drugs at age 13.

Start listening to them, and talking with them. This is going to take some time, so be patient. Count on it being awkward at first, but remember, it is not nearly as “awkward” as a late-night knock on the door from a State Trooper, telling you there has been an accident. These conversations will be difficult. Get over it. It’s a matter of life and death.

If this seems a little harsh, it is. I’m not taking my usual playful tone. This is serious business. A talented young actor – more importantly, a son, a partner, a brother, and a friend – is gone. 81 percent of teens say they have the opportunity to take illegal drugs – and over 42 percent try them.* Our kids are at risk, and it is up to us to do something about it. Get the help you need, whatever that looks like for you, to open up conversations with your kids. And don’t wait another week, or another day, to get started. The longer you wait, the greater the risk.

I know it is hard. Here are five tips to help you initiate these conversations:

  1. Keep breathing.
  2. Talk while doing something “normal,” like driving or making dinner to relieve some tension and pressure.
  3. Keep it matter-of-fact. Don’t make it too emotional.
  4. Use stories from life or the media, such as the death of Monteith, as teachable moments or conversation-starters.
  5. Empower them to want to make good and safe choices, rather than telling them what not to do. 

Here’s an example of how this might play out: 

Diane and her daughter were in the grocery store check-out line, looking at the US magazine story about Cory Monteith. Diane took a deep breath and started a conversation about it. Her daughter got embarrassed because Diane used the word “sex.” Diane persevered, calmly, asking her daughter how she might handle an uncomfortable or compromising situation with her friends. When her daughter expressed a desire to be responsible, Diane presented herself as a resource if she ever needed support. Then they checked out and went home. Simple as that. Parenting report card: A+.

It is important that your children know that they are not alone and that they can count on your support and guidance. It’s important that you know that as well. We want our kids to reach out for help when they need it. Sometimes we need to show them how by doing it ourselves. If you want help, we are happy to coach you to develop the tools you need for these embarrassing, but essential, talks.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus and Diane Dempster, founders of ImpactADHD.com, teach/write about practical strategies to parents of “complex” kids with ADHD and related challenges. To help your kids find the motivation to get anything done, download their free parent’s guide, The Parent’s Guide to Motivating Your Complex Child.

This article was originally published at ImpactADHD. Reprinted with permission from the author.