1. They should hear it from someone they trust.
Wouldn’t it be nice if life didn’t ever suck? If it was predictable and gentle, and we never had to worry about pain or unpleasantness? But that’s just not the case. Life happens and sometimes it happens to hurt. We believe that, when possible, children should be introduced to the ups and downs from the people they trust most. By talking about the tough stuff at home first, it helps to normalize difficult topics and create an atmosphere of honesty. If we are honest with our kids, they feel like they can be more honest with us.
2. Resilience starts at home.
Helicopter Parenting (or the new aptly named Lawnmower Parenting) can be tempting. Of course we want to protect our children. Of course we want to fight their battles for them. Of course we don’t want them to be upset or uncomfortable. Our reactions are natural and it’s hard not to give into them. But we need to help our children kids develop the tools they need to deal with things like rejection and failure. They can build those support tools in a thousand little ways and honest, judgement-free conversations are key.
3. We can help them develop empathy for others.
Some people are naturally very empathetic while it doesn’t seem to come easily to others. We can’t expect small children to empathize on a deep level with people who are struggling and yet often they do. Perhaps they’re wise souls or perhaps they’re naturally more honest. The more we can explain the feelings and emotions behind life events, the more children can develop empathy and even resilience. If we can support their natural inclination to be honest, we can help plant deep roots that will support them as they grow.
4. Honesty is the gateway to more good stuff.
Being honest is an important life skill that can make a world of difference. It discourages ignorance and entitlement and supports learning and mindfulness. We all should ask more questions, admit when we don’t know the answer and be more open-minded. It’s amazing how when someone won’t admit they don’t know something, they also won’t admit they’re sorry and they won’t admit there’s anything wrong with that. Honesty makes us more open, curious and accepting.
5. They will develop a deeper trust with you.
The more we tell our kids and trust them with the truth, the more we create an honest dialogue. It doesn’t mean we need to go home and tell our kids how Susan from work was pissing us off today. It simply means giving honest answers encourages more honest questions. More often than not, the uncomfortable person in the room isn’t the kid but the adult. The question is why are we uncomfortable? Perhaps it’s because we don’t know where to start or have the right words. A good approach is to go with your gut, be as honest as you feel is appropriate and understandable for your child. And when in doubt, find the tools you need to start talking.
Avoiding the questions or tough lessons doesn’t mean they go away, it just means our kids will stop looking to us for the answers.
So don’t worry if the answer isn't perfect.
Just keep talking.
Get the conversation started with Other Life Lessons honest children's books.