Friendships, relationships and chocolate

relationships, friendships, children

There has been a lot of discussion about friendships and relationships in this household over the past week or so. Toddler Adams has reached an age where she’s started to make friends whereas Helen, who is six, has been presented with a few different issues that have necessitated “having a chat with dad” (or indeed “mum and dad” when Mrs Adams has been around).

A whole variety of circumstances have been up for discussion. For starters, there have been a couple of friendship issues that we’ve had to deal with.

It’s mostly been playground stuff, the type of thing any six year old would experience. Although unpleasant, it is also the kind of thing she has to go through and figure out for herself. Even so, we’ve had to ensure Helen feels supported and has the confidence to tell friends when behaviour upsets her.

We’ve also had a few chats about adult relationships. We’ve explained that men and women often have boyfriends or girlfriends before getting married. Following a supplementary question from Helen, this also necessitated an explanation of why peopple usually get married and that married people shouldn’t have boyfriends or girlfriends.

We’ve also talked about same sex marriage. We haven’t yet got on to how people in same sex unions have children with each other. It can only be a matter of time before that one comes up.

The grand finale was a discussion about my past when Helen discovered a box of old photographs and started rummaging through them when I wasn’t around. In amongst them was a picture of an ex of mine, someone I spent a significant number of years with. Shock horror, I had to admit to having a past!

Of course Helen left me speechless in the way only a six year old could after that particular chat. We discussed daddy’s background and I asked her if she had any questions she’d like answering.

“Yes daddy, I do,” she said.
“What’s that darling?”
“Can I have some chocolate?”

I think such conversations are vital. With one or two exceptions, I don’t recall having such chats when I was growing up. I like to think my generation of parents is more open, although I know of mums and dads who clam up and struggle with this stuff, especially when it comes to discussing sex and physical relationships.

I’ve also read a couple of very interesting blog posts about relationships and friendships. This one from Martyn of the InsideMartynsMind blog details how he’s educating his boys to ensure they can avoid abuse. At the other end of the spectrum, this post from the ThirstyDaddy blog is about his teenaged daughter dating. Both are very poignant and highlight the need to equip children with certain skills.

I know I can’t stop my children getting hurt. It’s part of growing up. What I can do is help my kids identify abusive or inappropriate behaviour. I hope my wife and I can raise children that are strong enough to say “no” and walk away from a friendship or relationship if it isn’t positive or has gone sour.

What’s your experience? At what age did you have these chats with your kids? Or you one of those people that clams up and just doesn’t know how to handle this kind of thing? Please leave a comment below, I’d be fascinated to hear more.

Pic credit; Kate Tegtmeyer. Reproduced under Creative Commons agreement. For more information about Creative Commons, see my disclosure page.

 

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14 Comments

  1. May 23, 2015 / 8:01 am

    My children are probably still a little young to really understand about relationships, but I’m planning taking him to the Gay Pride event we have on in our local city to help show him that it doesn’t matter who you love, whether male or female. I hope I can raise both of my children to know that you must love and respect your partner, having been in an abusive relationship before I know how important it is to teach the younger generation about respecting everyone.
    Great post =]

    • John Adams
      Author
      May 24, 2015 / 5:26 am

      Respect for everyone, very important! Thanks for visiting the blog and commenting.

  2. May 23, 2015 / 10:44 am

    This is great and I’m in the same boat! In fact, I’ve been writing a blog post in my head for the last few weeks about the importance of teaching empathy and understanding to our children with regards to relationships. So often we put the responsibility on our kids’ teachers to sort out scuffles, and yet that does nothing for the child as he/she grows up – they need the resources to deal with all sorts of characters they may encounter in life!

    Also, due to a great blog I read the other week (http://www.denvermomsblog.com/parenting/why-we-dont-keep-secrets-in-our-house/), I’m now also trying to gently educate my kids to prevent abuse – without scaring them, but just the whole ‘we don’t keep secrets’ malarkey.

    • John Adams
      Author
      May 24, 2015 / 5:25 am

      I will be going and having a read of that blog post. Thanks for suggesting it.

  3. May 23, 2015 / 12:55 pm

    I love Helen’s response. Brilliant. It’s so important to teach them about the world, let them understand what is out there and ensure they have the right tools to deal with what comes their way. I know my ethos on travel is helping my daughter experience different cultures, different people, how they look and dress etc It’s important to be honest with them too and we all have pasts.. It’s better they know their parents than not (which is a bit how I feel about my parents) #bigfatlinky

    • John Adams
      Author
      May 24, 2015 / 5:24 am

      I like that comment “better they know their parents than not.” It’s a very important way to look approach parenting.

  4. May 23, 2015 / 1:07 pm

    Great post John. I believe that talking with our kids, even if they don’t seem to be listening, is one of our most important jobs as we try and mold them into the people we hope they grow into.

    • John Adams
      Author
      May 24, 2015 / 5:23 am

      Yes Jeremy, it’s alll about equiping them with the skills to deal with these situations on their own.

  5. May 23, 2015 / 8:32 pm

    I think it’s so important to be open with kids, or at least to be there if they have any kind of questions whatever they may raise. There are so many things I didn’t feel comfortable talking to my Mum and Dad about as I was growing up because it was still that stage when you just didn’t really talk to parents about things. I would definitely to it differently if I had kids. #BigFatLinky

    • John Adams
      Author
      May 24, 2015 / 5:22 am

      Ah yes, there wasn’t a huge amount of conversation between my parents and I on these issues. I think that’s part of the reason I wish to be more open. I just don’t think there generation was as open.

  6. May 23, 2015 / 8:33 pm

    Firstly, thanks for the mention it’s very much appreciated. I think talking about all these things is great and so necessary. I know that i will have to have these conversations over and over again but i dont mind that. I think it gives you chance to build upon things slowly at the childs pace. I also think Helen has the right idea…..did she get her chocolate?
    Thanks as always for linking up with us on the #bigfatlinky hope to see you there next week

    • John Adams
      Author
      May 24, 2015 / 5:21 am

      Yes, helen did get some cholcolate! I also appreciate we’re going to be having these chats over and over again. Pleasure to mention you’re post. it was a very good one.

  7. May 24, 2015 / 12:33 am

    Oh we’re entering into this phase too with Mademoiselle, where she’s being challenged at school by some of her peers (often the ones with older siblings) and wanting answers. I think your openness & honesty to your children is so important; with it they come away with all sorts of misconceptions from school and don’t have the tools to deal with the situations they may find themselves in. We always make a point of talking at the dinner table or at bedtime, and I truly believe that if you listen to your children when they’re talking about the small things they’ll be more willing to come and tell you about the big things. Although sometimes not showing any judgement or shocked face by their questions can be a bit of a challenge…but I think that’s for another blog post!
    Congrats on your nomination, btw, well deserved
    xx

    • John Adams
      Author
      May 24, 2015 / 5:20 am

      It’s getting the kids to open up that can be the difficult thing. Like you, I always find I have to take a softly softly approach. Thanks for commenting and hope we may see each other again at the BritMums Live?