Written By:  Kathy Glow @ Kissing the Frog

 feature image source

I distinctly remember the first time Barack Obama was elected president. It was before Joey, almost five at the time, was sick. Still incredibly curious about everything, he asked me why everyone was so excited about this man on television.

I explained to him that this man was elected the next president of the United States – a big deal in itself, but that he was also the first African American man elected as president. I said that last part with a bit of hesitation because I was not quite ready to introduce the issue of race to my children. Or more specifically, the issue of what race means in our country.

Luckily for me at the time, he was more interested in saying President Obama’s name over and over because he liked the way it sounded (think of The Lion King when the hyenas kept saying, “Mufasa . . .ooo, do it again!”).

When my children were young, I avoided all controversial topics like the plague – race, death, and sex were the biggies that made me shudder.

And then, all of a sudden, one of the biggies was staring us in the face every day, and it couldn’t be avoided.

We never told the boys that Joey would die from his cancer. We said, “The doctors are trying everything they can to make Joey better,” which was not a lie.

It just wasn’t really the truth either.

Life is hard. And the older you get, the harder it gets. I am not going to be able to avoid the hard subjects much longer as my boys are getting older. I have to start meeting them head on, especially if I want to raise good, kind, well-adjusted young men.

One of the hardest things to talk about with kids is death. When Joey was sick, my husband consulted with a family therapist who specialized in death and dying. She advised us to avoid telling the boys that Joey “went to sleep,” that we “lost” Joey, or even that he “passed away.” We were to tell them the facts: Joey’s body stopped working, and he died.

Parents.com agrees. When talking to children about death, it’s best to keep answers as short and simple as possible: “Grandma can no longer think or move or breathe, but her love will stay with us in our hearts forever.”

The therapist recommended a book called The Fall of Freddie the Leaf that equated death to the changing of the seasons. He started reading it to the boys in the months leading up to Joey’s death; and whether it was the book or the realization that he was not getting any better, they handled his death as well as expected.

Another tough topic is anything surrounding S-E-X. Ooo, that one makes me shudder. We have always used correct anatomical terminology for the boys’ parts, but when they started asking me about my parts and how the baby got in my tummy or how it was going to get out, I wanted to run and hide.

                                        

source

I would just mumble something about God helping Mommy and Daddy put it there and the doctor helping Mommy get it out, and then I would quickly change the subject.

Wrong! According to Talk with Kids.org, which gives 10 tips for talking to kids about tough issues, parents should start early and initiate conversations. Kids are going to hear things from friends and media. It’s best that parents, as uncomfortable as it may make us, bring it up with our children so that the explanation includes our morals, values, and beliefs.

And depending on the age of the child, a simple answer may suffice. When your child asks you a question about sex, HIV, drugs, or gangs for example, answer his question with a question. Then you have a sense of his level of understanding and can adjust your explanations to fit.

Race is an issue I have had to tackle recently. On our trip to California, a woman with a heavy foreign accent helped us at the gift shop at Legoland. Out of the blue, my five year old said to her, “I speak English and you don’t.” I was beyond mortified!

We live and go to school in a fairly non-diverse community. The only people my children encounter with accents are on television, and unfortunately it’s mostly presented in a comedic way (damn you, Nickelodian).

As children get older, it is natural to notice differences in a person’s skin color, hair, eyes, and speech. Baby Center.com agrees that it is best to talk with kids early and often about race. When they hear something that could be perceived as bigoted, your silence about the topic could be interpreted as acceptance. Discourage labeling people as black or white because your child might pick up on this habit, too.

One suggestion made was to expose your children to people of all races and cultures. Even if you don’t live in a culturally diverse society, you can read books featuring people of all races, take your child to events where she can be exposed to all different types of people, or take an ethnic dance or art class.

                

source

As my children get older, I know they are going to have more and more tough questions for me. As much as the tough talks make me squirm, I know I am going to have to face them sooner rather than later.

But the more honest I can be with them and show them I am open to talking with them, the more they will feel safe and comfortable coming to me with any question or concern – even about the biggies!

 

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Kathy Glow

Kathy Glow is a wife and mom to four lively boys and one beautiful angel in Heaven, lost to cancer. Most days you can find her under a pile of laundry ordering take-out. When she is not driving all over town in her mini-van or wiping “boy stuff” off the walls, she is writing about what life is REALLY like after all your dreams come true. Her writing has been featured on sites such as Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Good Housekeeping, and Mamalode; but Her View From Home is her favorite place to be. Her blog is at www.lifewiththefrog.com. You can follow her on Facebook at Kissing the Frog.

God Gave Him Bigger Feelings

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy on playground, color photo

He came home from school last week and asked, “Why do I get so angry but my friends never do? Why am I not the same?” And it broke me. Because he is passionate and intelligent and kind and intuitive and beautiful. He didn’t always seem different. We never paid attention to how he would line everything up in play. And we would laugh it off as a quirk when he would organize everything dependent upon shape, size, and color. He was stubborn, sure, but so am I. And then COVID happened, and we attributed the lack of social skills...

Keep Reading

We Have a Big Family and Wouldn’t Change a Thing

In: Kids, Motherhood
Four children in front of Christmas tree, color photo

I have just had my fourth baby. A baby who wasn’t expected but very much wanted and very much loved from the moment we found out. When we told people we were expecting, the response was underwhelming. The stream of intrusive questions would then ensue:  You already have your hands full, how will you cope with four? You’ll need a bigger car! Where will they all sleep? Don’t you own a TV? You know how babies are made right? People seemed to have such a strong opinion about me having a fourth child. RELATED: We Had a Lot of Kids...

Keep Reading

As a Mom I’m Far From Perfect, But I Hope You Remember the Joy

In: Kids, Motherhood
Happy mother and daughter on the beach

Sometimes, I think about the future when you are grown and I am gone. When all that’s left of me are photographs and memories. I know what the photographs will show. I took most of them, after all. But the memories I’m less sure of. I wonder what will stick with you after all that time. How will you remember me? One day, your grandkids will ask you about me. What will you say? Will you tell them I was always distracted? Will you remember that I looked at my phone too much? Will you tell them I didn’t play...

Keep Reading

Being a Daycare Mom Can Be So Hard

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Woman holding boy on couch, black-and-white photo

Dear daycare mom,  I know it’s hard.  To get yourself up before them, to make lunches, to pack the bags, to get yourself ready.  To go into their rooms, where they are peacefully sleeping, and turn the lights on.  To struggle to get them breakfast, get them dressed, and get them out the door.  I know it’s hard.  To have a morning rush when all you want to do is snuggle up on the couch and ease into your day.  RELATED: When a Mom is Late To Work To feel like you are missing out on their childhood at times...

Keep Reading

The PB&J that Saved the Day

In: Kids, Motherhood
Table with three plates of PB&J sandwiches, color photo

It was one of those days.  One of those days when your pants are too tight, you wake up with a headache, and the kids’ rooms are disasters at 8 a.m. It was one of those days when I had to physically go into Target for our groceries since I didn’t have time to wait for pickup—I think that alone should sum up exactly the kind of day it was.  The kids were hangry. The toddler was, well, toddler-y. RELATED: Toddlers Are Human Too—And Sometimes They Just Need Grace Two minutes into our shopping trip, she had kicked her light-up rain...

Keep Reading

One Day He’ll Love Another Woman More than He Loves Me

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother holding baby, color photo

To Benjamin, my 16-month-old son, I am everything. I am the first person that boy looks for when he wakes up in the morning and the last person he wants before he goes to bed. If he is in a room full of people he loves and I am not there, he will search for me.  If he has a problem, mommy is the solution. I am the answer to his cries. I feel confident in saying that I am the most important person in that little boy’s little world. I love it. It is an honor and a privilege...

Keep Reading

To My Sister, Thank You For Being the Best Aunt To My Kids

In: Kids, Motherhood
Aunt with three young kids

“Do you have the kids’ basketball schedule yet?” you texted the other day. I sent back a screenshot of the calendar, and within an hour you responded telling me which game you’d be coming to. It was a simple exchange, but I was overwhelmed with gratitude for your love for my kids in that moment. It’s something I think often but don’t say nearly enough: thank you for being such an amazing aunt. Truly.  I know it’s not always convenient. You live three hours away and have a busy, full life of your own—but still, you show up for your niece and nephews...

Keep Reading

In Defense of the Stubborn Child

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy hanging over dock, color photo

“Lamp. Lamp. Laaaaamp,” my 2-year-old son screamed while stomping his feet. Tears were running down his face and snot was dripping dangerously close to his mouth. I put on what I hoped would be a soothing, motherly tone, “Okay, just calm down.” While trying to maintain eye contact, I slowly reached toward the tissue box. This must be what the greats like Jeff Corwin, Steve Irwin, or the Kratt brothers feel like when facing a volatile animal in the wild. The sound of a tissue being pulled from the box caused the crying to stop abruptly. His eyes flitted toward...

Keep Reading

Dear Stepdaughter, You Aren’t “Mine” but I Love You as My Own

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and daughter hug

First off, I love you. I wasn’t there the day you were born or when you got your first tooth. I wasn’t there when you took your first steps or learned to pee in the potty. But, I have loved you since the day we met, and I’ve been there for every moment since. I’ve given you baths and eventually, taught you how to shower on your own. I’ve brushed your hair, clipped your nails, and taken care of you when you’re sick. I’ve tucked you into bed and kissed you goodnight, held you when you’re sad, chased away your...

Keep Reading

I Was Meant to Be a Boy Mom

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and three boys, black-and-white photo

When you’re a little girl, you dream of the day you can pass all your Barbies and dolls on to your daughter and continue that same form of make-believe, to play dress up, do their hair, and go shopping with . . . at least I did.  You grow up, fall in love, get married, and decide to start a family and all those same emotions come rushing back about all you’ll do with your baby girl. You cut open that cake and the blue frosting peeks through, and you’re so excited that you forget all those girl dreams. You...

Keep Reading