Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tough Conversations

Welcome to the March 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Tough Conversations
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have spoken up about how they discuss complex topics with their children. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


In some respects, every conversation with my children is tough. Acorn, who will turn 5 this summer and start kindergarten in the fall, says less than 2 dozen words. While we believe he understands everything we say, it’s hard to tell if he gets the finer points of things, because he can’t ask questions or tell us when it’s not clear. Leaf will be 2 this May, and again, says very little. We’re hopeful that her road to speech will be less challenging than Acorn’s, but no one can predict that right now.
We anticipate that there will be many tough conversations over the next few years, as Acorn and Leaf begin to realize that they *are* different from other kids – that most kids don’t have the scars they have, that their baby pictures don’t include incubators and wires and tubes, that most kids don’t have nurses who are their best friends. And I suspect that the best thing for them when we reach that point will be to talk about how strong they are – how much they’ve already overcome, and how much more they can do if they set their minds to it. Our feeling here is that honesty is the best option – if we are not honest with them about their history, about things that are documented in photos and blog posts and medical notes, how can they trust us?
I hope that it will help them to be living in the very diverse area we live in – so many different people, from different cultures and backgrounds, and attending an elementary school where all differences are celebrated. But only time will tell, as each of my children processes these things in their own way.
Another set of tough conversations in our future will likely revolve around death. Because of my kids’ medical history, we know a lot of kids with complicated medical problems. And unfortunately that means we know a lot of kids who will never grow up to be adults. I think that we need to find a way to build a meaningful memorial of our friends into our Samhain celebrations, but we have been so busy just surviving the last few winters that not much has gotten done. Having that celebration as a central way to talk about death will help them through the years, as we add more friends to our list of those who have passed.
I’d like to think that getting through those big things now will make other tough conversations less challenging as the kids get older – we’ll already have built a foundation where open communication and trust are a normal part of our conversations. In the grand scheme of things, talking about injustice and sex and so many other things seem less difficult to me compared to what we’ve already faced.
Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon March 12 with all the carnival links.)
  • A Difficult Conversation — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is keeping her mouth shut about a difficult topic.
  • Discussing Sexuality and Objectification With Your Child — At Authentic Parenting, Laura is puzzled at how to discuss sexuality and objectification with her 4-year-old.
  • Tough Conversations — Kadiera at Our Little Acorn knows there are difficult topics to work through with her children in the future, but right now, every conversation is a challenge with a nonverbal child.
  • Real Talk — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama explains why there are no conversation topics that are off limits with her daughter, and how she ensures that tough conversations are approached in a developmentally appropriate manner.
  • From blow jobs to boob jobs and lots of sex inbetweenMrs Green talks candidly about boob jobs and blow jobs…
  • When Together Doesn't Work — Ashley at Domestic Chaos discusses the various conversations her family has had in the early stages of separation.
  • Talking To Children About Death — Luschka at Diary of a First Child is currently dealing with the terminal illness of her mother. In this post she shares how she's explained it to her toddler, and some of the things she's learned along the way.
  • Teaching 9-1-1 To Kids — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling talks about the importance of using practical, age-appropriate emergency scenarios as a springboard for 9-1-1 conversations.
  • Preschool Peer PressureLactating Girl struggles to explain to her preschooler why friends sometimes aren't so friendly.
  • Frank Talk — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis unpacks a few conversations about sexuality that she's had with her 2-year-old daughter, and her motivation for having so many frank discussions.
  • When simple becomes tough — A natural mum manages oppositional defiance in a toddler at Ursula Ciller's Blog.
  • How Babies are Born: a conversation with my daughter — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger tries to expand her daughter's horizons while treading lightly through the waters of pre-K social order.
  • Difficult Questions & Lies: 4 Reasons to Tell The Truth — Ariadne of Positive Parenting Connection shares the potential impact that telling lies instead of taking the time to answer difficult questions can have on the parent-child relationship.
  • Parenting Challenges--when someone dies — Survivor at Surviving Mexico writes about talking to her child about death and the cultural challenges involved in living in a predominantly Catholic nation.
  • Daddy Died — Breaking the news to your children that their father passed away is tough. Erica at ChildOrganics shares her story.
  • Opennesssustainablemum prepares herself for the day when she has to tell her children that a close relative has died.
  • Embracing Individuality — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy addressed a difficult question in public with directness and honesty.
  • Making the scary or different okay — Although she tries to listen more than she talks about tough topics, Jessica Claire of Crunchy-Chewy Mama also values discussing them with her children to soften the blow they might cause when they hit closer to home.
  • Talking to My Child About Going Gluten Free — When Dionna at Code Name: Mama concluded that her family would benefit from eliminating gluten from their diet, she came up with a plan to persuade her gluten-loving son to find peace with the change. This is how they turned the transition to a gluten-free lifestyle into an adventure rather than a hardship.
  • How Does Your Family Explain Differences and Approach Diversity? — How do you and your family approach diversity? Gretchen of That Mama Gretchen shares her thoughts at Natural Parents Network and would like to hear from readers.
  • Discussing Difficult Topics with Kids: What’s Worked for Me — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares parenting practices that enabled discussions of difficult topics with her (now-adult) children to be positive experiences.
  • Tough Conversations — Get some pointers from Jorje of Momma Jorje on important factors to keep in mind when broaching tough topics with kids.
  • Protect your kids from sneaky people — Lauren at Hobo Mama has cautioned her son against trusting people who'd want to hurt him — and hopes the lessons have sunk in.
  • Mommy, What Does the Bible Say? — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work works through how to answer a question from her 4-year-old that doesn't have a simple answer.
  • When All You Want for Them is Love: Adoption, Abandonment, and Honoring the Truth — Melissa at White Noise talks about balancing truth and love when telling her son his adoption story.


  1. Oh mama, my heart goes out to you for having to prepare your little ones for the possible deaths of friends. It's been a long time since I've known a child who has died, I can't imagine having to explain that to my children at this stage. Strength and peace to you as you continue to travel this journey with your little ones, it's so clear from your writing that you are an incredible advocate for them.
    ~Dionna @ CodeNameMama.com

  2. Wow, what a humbling post; I felt my heart reach out to you - all these things I take for granted... I completely agree with using these conversations to reinforce how strong they are, how much they’ve overcome, and how much more they can do is the right focus; it's so much more empowering - what a beautiful testament. All power to you mama

  3. This is so intense — I agree that being faced with death is the biggest conversation to have. I'm so glad your children are doing as well as they are. Thanks for continuing to share your journey with us.

  4. Jennifer @ Hybrid Rasta MamaMarch 12, 2013 at 5:42 PM

    You made a very important point...foundation is key! The earlier you instill the value of honest, open, nothing-off-limits dialogue, the greater chance you have of keeping that trust during future tough conversations.

  5. I can't imagine having to tell my children that one of their friends was dying. So much love to you and your family!