My pastor tweeted some wise words the other day, "Just reviewed our school's family life education. Parents, talk to your kids before their teachers do. It's your job!"
Why do parent's avoid talking to their children about important aspects of life? Topics having to do with sexuality, relationships, inappropriate behavior, and drugs. No, I'm not alluding to those tear-filled diatribes after a bell has been wrung that can't be unwrung, nor those in-the-moment nagging reprimands. I'm referring to those deliberate and tender parent-child talks that outline firm boundaries, teach them and remind them of the values that you want them to embrace, and clarify misconceptions before they become set in granite. Sure these talks can be awkward, can make us feel vulnerable, and can completely take us out of our comfort zone. However, these moments are an important component of parenting, and while they are no guarantee that your children will make it through adolescence unscathed, I think they give them a better chance to recognize trouble and avoid it based on knowledge and truth.
In my house, having the "talk" with my daughter is not and was not meant to be a one time event. In fact, I have made it an annual occurrence linked to the start of the school year. In our last day together before she goes back to classes each year, I talk with her about a number of issues that I think she should be aware of and understand. Whether I am giving her new information or reminding her of things we have discussed before, I purposefully and intentionally set aside this time. Certainly my words and intentions aren't always understood and do not always penetrate as deeply as I would like, but she knows that I am trying my best to help her and to love her. Also, each time I talk to her, it makes it easier for me to enter into this type of discussion and makes it more likely that I will be heard in the future.