This article was co-authored by Maggie Mitchell. Maggie Mitchell is a Life Coach and the Owner of InnerCoastal Coaching in Raleigh, North Carolina. With more than 15 years of experience, she specializes in helping individuals with communication, anxiety, stress, problem-solving, decision making, meditation, and healthy boundaries. Maggie holds an MS in Counseling Psychology from Gannon University and received her Executive Coach Certificate from The International Coaching Community (ICC).
There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
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When a sensitive issue in your life becomes too much, it is natural to turn to your mother. However, sometimes it can feel awkward to confide in your mom.  X Expert Source
Life Coach Expert Interview. 18 October 2021. This is normal, and there are many ways to make the conversation easier. Prepare ahead of time by deciding how and when to have the conversation. Go in expecting some stress, but be direct and polite throughout the conversation. Strive to end things on a good note. Ask your mom for advice and thank her for her time.
Life Coach Expert Interview. 18 October 2021. If you’re talking something private over with a parent, there is likely to be some embarrassment. This is normal. It will be easier to go into the situation if you expect you’re going to be embarrassed.  X Research source
Do not try to talk yourself out of feeling embarrassed or awkward. This is only likely to make you focus on these feelings more. Try to start the conversation with the acknowledgment that the subject is uncomfortable.  X Expert Source
Life Coach Expert Interview. 18 October 2021.
Life Coach Expert Interview. 18 October 2021. You should not go into the conversation without some idea of what you want. If you’re telling your mother something private, you’re doing so for a reason. Think about why you want to talk this over with your mom. Knowing what you want can also help you better direct the conversation.  X Research source
- You may just want your mom to listen. If you’re going through an embarrassing personal problem, you may just want to vent to someone. If this is the case, you can let your mom know you don’t want advice or guidance.
- However, you may want advice about something. Think about whether or not your mom’s input would be helpful. If you want advice, you can ask for it directly. For example, “Mom, I need to ask you for advice about something.”
You probably talk to your friends way more than you talk to your parents. That’s natural, even if you and your parents have a great relationship.
Still, it’s good to have a parent’s help, advice, and support. You can get support from other adults in your life, too. Maybe there’s a teacher, mentor, or coach you like to talk with.
At first, it might seem awkward to open up, especially when talking about some subjects. Or it might feel harder if it’s been a while since you had a good heart-to-heart. Here are some tips to make it easier to talk.
Talk About Everyday Stuff — and Do It Every Day
The more you do something, the easier it gets. Talking to the adults in your life about everyday stuff builds a bond. It makes it easier when you need to discuss something more serious.
Find something to chat about each day. You can keep it brief and casual. Talk about how your team did at the track meet. Share something one of your teachers said. Tell them about a school project. Share a fun post or picture. Even small talk about what’s for dinner can keep you feeling close.
Do things together that you both enjoy. Go for a walk. Work out together. Cook, eat, play, make music, help out, or just hang out together. This gives you a chance to have a casual chat.
It’s never too late to start. If things feel strained between you and your parent, ease into it. Mention that cute thing the dog did. Watch a funny movie together to share a laugh. Talking about little things might be a way to get closer if you need to.
How to Talk About Difficult Topics
Maybe you need to break bad news to a parent, like failing an exam. Maybe you’re feeling scared or stressed about something. Or there’s something personal you want to share, like a special person in your life. But you don’t know how they’ll react. Or how it will feel to tell them. Or how you’ll find the words.
To help you prepare, you can:
1. Think about what you want or need from your parent.
Do you want to tell them something important? Ask for their help? Do you want them to listen and hear you out? Do you need their support? Or their advice? Do you need their permission for something? Or help with a problem you’re having?
It helps if you’re clear about what you want. Put it into words. For example:
- “I need to tell you about a problem I’m having. I just want you to listen right now so you know what’s bothering me. I’m not ready for advice yet.”
- “I need your advice about something. Can we talk?”
- “I need to get your permission to go on a class trip next week. Can I tell you about it?”
2. Think about how you feel.
Are you worried about how a parent or other adult might react? Scared that they’ll be mad or disappointed? Embarrassed to talk about something sensitive or personal? Feel guilty because you got in some trouble? Don’t let those feelings stop you from talking. Instead, let your feelings be part of the conversation.
Put feelings into words. For example:
- “I want to tell you something that’s pretty personal. And I’m worried about how you’ll react. But I want to tell you anyway.”
- “I need to talk to you. But I’m afraid I’ll disappoint you.”
- “I need to talk to you about something. But it’s kind of embarrassing.”
- “I have something to tell you. I’m not proud of what I’ve done, and you might be mad. But I know I need to tell you. Can you hear me out?”
If you think you might get nervous or clam up when it comes time to talk, try practicing what you want to say in front of a mirror. Or practice with a friend. Practice can build confidence. It can help you feel more comfortable when you’re talking.
4. Pick a good time to talk.
Find a time when your parent or the adult you want to talk to isn’t busy with something else. Ask, “Can we talk? Is now a good time?” Try to find a quiet or private space where there are not a lot of distractions or other people around. And then, just get started.
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There’s something you really want and you suspect your mom will not agree to it. Whether you want a new pet, a new purse, or to go to an event, it can seem like the end of the world if you don’t get it. Whether that is true or not, you want your mom to come around and see your point of view. Can you get her to say “Yes?” It is quite possible. Read on to learn how to talk your mom into saying “Yes.”
Just ask. Many kids fret for weeks over a new possession, an activity or sleepover out of fear that mom will say “No.” You may be getting yourself worked up for no reason whatsoever. If there is something you really want, just ask.
Earn it. If what you want involves money you may want to try earning all or part of the money. Ask your parents what you can do around the house to earn some extra money or help pay for what you want. You can also ask if you can earn they money by doing jobs for your neighbors. What you don’t want to do is to neglect your previously assigned chores in your effort to earn money.
Prove yourself. If the thing you want is a pet you may need to first prove to your parents that you are ready for the responsibility that comes along with the animal. You can prove you are ready for a dog by taking care of a fish, or walking and feeding a neighbors dog while they are on vacation. You may first ask your mother if you can pet sit for a relative for a few days.
Be transparent. If you want to go to a party, and your parents are saying “No” you need to give your parents all of the details of the party to prove that it is safe. This might mean introducing your parents to the chaperones. This might mean giving your parents the itinerary for the party so they know what you will be doing and when. This may even mean letting your parents drop you off and staying for a while (even if it means sitting in the car) until they are comfortable that you will be safe. If there are details about a party that you don’t want your parents to know about, chances are they have a good reason to say “No.”
Bargain with her. Your mother may give in and buy you that purse, or let you go to that concert if you do something for her. Help with housework to make her life easier and she will be glad to buy items for you. Baby-sit your younger sibling so she can go out, and she will have no problem with sending you to a concert.
Pick your battles. Don’t constantly bombard your mother with requests. If you do, her resolve to say “No” will become even stronger. If you can say to her, “I seldom ask for anything, but this is really important to me,” you may have a stronger case.
Guys, has your wife stopped looking at you like she loves you and more with that patented blend of boredom and revulsion that she uses when she scrubs the toilet? Never fear, here are five no-fail phrases that will get your wife back in the mood for sex even on nights that her favorite reality show is on. Just kidding, she would still wait till the next night. Sorry.
so hot she can’t bear it
1. “Talk to me.”
Sure you ask your wife to talk dirty to you, but do you ask her to talk not dirty to you? You know, about her thoughts, feelings, dreams, hopes, even her day at work for that matter? If you’re as into your wife’s skirmishes with her coworker as you are into her telling you she wants your body, then she, ironically, will want your body more.
2. “Tell me exactly what you like.”
You entreat your wife to tell you what she wants in bed (unless you’re this guy), down to the smallest explicit detail, and then you actually try to do what she asks. Imagine if you brought this persistence and motivation to please into, say, cleaning the kitchen? If your wife wants you to use Windex and papertowels and concentric circles on the countertop, follow these directions to the letter and with a smile, as you would if she was telling you what she wanted in bed. Your wife’s reaction will astound you, when she gets off the floor from passing out in shock.
3. “You make me so excited.”
You’ll tell your wife how hot you think she is, but what about your excitement about other aspects of your life together? Are you excited to spend your life with her, raising a family, making a home, traveling, talking, cuddling, just watching TV and hanging out? Then tell her, with the same passion as you would tell her how hot she makes you.
4. “I thought about you all day.”
If you haven’t had sex in two weeks and your wife’s mom is taking the kids overnight, you’ll certainly tell her you’ve been anticipating your alone time all day. But what about sharing your other thoughts about her? I’m sure during the day, sometimes, you think about your wife’s sweet face, her smile, her ability to remember your kids’ activity schedule, a joke you shared, or how she sings to your baby. Share these thoughts too, and she’ll be more likely to share the times during the day that she thinks about your penis with genuine affection.
5. “I don’t want you to go to bed unsatisfied.”
Weirdly, guys are under the impression that it isn’t the norm to want to satisfy your partner. They each think that they are the unique man who values his wife’s orgasm, and will labor tirelessly to help her achieve it. Guys, this is not true. Most of you want your wife to be sexually satisfied, even above your own enjoyment. Sadly, though, this self-sacrifice ends in the bedroom. How about “I’ll stay up all night to resolve this issue we’ve been arguing about?” How about “No matter what, you will NOT go to bed sad and lonely.” If you can say these with the same passion you tell her that her orgasm is important to you, then guess what? You’ll be giving her many more orgasms in the near future.
6. “I’ve been very bad.”
No sexy scenario about you and your domineering AP English teacher here, at least not till later. This is a time when you genuinely apologize for being a jerk at some earlier point in your relationship. Finally, your wife can get the validation she craves even more than your sexy bod. For extra points, realize that, for many women, the conversation STARTS, not ENDS, with “I’m sorry.” For real. Also they paint stuff on their faces before leaving the house. O strange creatures of the netherworld.
Share if you want more men to get laid. You can also read the book The Five Love Languages to learn things to do for women who don’t particularly respond to verbal affirmations. And till we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist That Says, Swiffering Is Better Foreplay Than Doing That Thing With Your Tongue That You’ve Been Doing With All Your Partners Since 1999.
This blog is not intended as medical advice or diagnosis and should in no way replace consultation with a medical professional. If you try this advice and it does not work for you, you cannot sue me. This is only my opinion, based on my background, training, and experience as a therapist and person.
Does this describe your mother?
- What Is Narcissism?
- Find a therapist who understands narcissism
I’m offering you a survey today from my book, Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers. If, like many women, you have wondered what might be wrong and why you feel the way you do, take the survey—and if it fits you, join us in a new sisterhood.
Narcissism is a spectrum disorder, with the most severe end of the spectrum considered as narcissistic personality disorder. A woman can have several narcissistic traits and not fit the personality disorder, but even mothers with only a few of these traits can negatively affect their daughters in insidious ways.
Below, check all the descriptions that apply to your relationship with your mother.
- When you discuss your life issues with your mother, does she divert the discussion to talk about herself?
- When you discuss your feelings with your mother, does she try to top the feeling with her own?
- Does your mother act jealous of you?
- Does your mother lack empathy for your feelings?
- Does your mother only support those things you do that reflect on her as a “good mother”?
- Have you consistently felt a lack of emotional closeness with your mother?
- Have you consistently questioned whether or not your mother likes you or loves you?
- Does your mother only do things for you when others can see?
- When something happens in your life (accident, illness, divorce), does your mother react with how it will affect her rather than how you feel?
- Is or was your mother overly conscious of what others think (neighbors, friends, family, co-workers)?
- Does your mother deny her own feelings?
- Does your mother blame things on you or others rather than own responsibility for her own feelings or actions?
- Is or was your mother hurt easily and then carries a grudge for a long time without resolving the problem?
- Do you feel you were a slave to your mother?
- Do you feel you were responsible for your mother’s ailments or sickness (headaches, stress, illness)?
- Did you have to take care of your mother’s physical needs as a child?
- Do you feel unaccepted by your mother?
- Do you feel your mother was critical of you?
- Do you feel helpless in the presence of your mother?
- Are you shamed often by your mother?
- Do you feel your mother knows the real you?
- Does your mother act like the world should revolve around her?
- Do you find it difficult to be a separate person from your mother?
- Does your mother appear phony to you?
- Does your mother want to control your choices?
- Does your mother swing from egotistical to depressed mood?
- Did you feel you had to take care of your mother’s emotional needs as a child?
- Do you feel manipulated in the presence of your mother?
- Do you feel valued, by mother, for what you do rather than who you are?
- Is your mother controlling, acting like a victim or martyr?
- Does your mother make you act different from how you really feel?
- Does your mother compete with you?
- Does your mother always have to have things her way?
Note: All of these questions relate to narcissistic traits. The more questions you checked, the more likely your mother has narcissistic traits and that this has caused some difficulty for you as a growing daughter and adult.
(OPRAH.com) — When your child asks where babies come from, do you break a sweat and blame it on the stork? Have you had a conversation about oral sex, masturbation or contraception with your teen? If you haven’t started “the talk” with your child, sex therapist Dr. Laura Berman says you could be making a big mistake.
Dr. Berman says kids today know a lot more about sex than we think they do. In fact, Berman says children are being forced to make sexual decisions by middle school, from receiving sexually explicit text messages — also called “sexting” — to feeling pressured to perform acts like oral sex.
What you need to do as a parent, Berman says, is arm them with knowledge that will guide them well into adulthood. “You want to start these conversations early with your kids — before they find themselves in the circumstances where they’re having to make those healthy sexual decisions.”
O, The Oprah Magazine and Seventeen magazine joined forces for a groundbreaking new sex study that surveys moms and girls ages 15 to 22. The bottom line? Parents aren’t talking to their kids enough about sex. Oprah.com: See the results of this groundbreaking study
“What is so fascinating to me is 90 percent of the mothers, our readers, thought that they had had the conversation with their daughters about sex,” says Gayle King, O magazine’s editor-at-large.
“When you talk to the daughters, you’ll find out, well, no, you didn’t really quite have the conversation.”
Although some mothers shy away from the conversation because they don’t want to seem like they’re condoning sex, King says you have to arm your daughters with as much information as you can. “Knowledge is power,” she says.
Seventeen magazine editor-in-chief Ann Shoket says girls don’t only want the nuts-and-bolts talk about sex — they want to learn more about the feelings that can come with it.
Oprah.com: Meet two 14-year-olds who think they’re ready Oprah.com: How are you doing with ‘the talk’? Take the quiz! Oprah.com: Avoiding the ‘eww’ factor
“It’s clear that these girls are doing very advanced sexual things,” she says. “And yet what they really want their mothers to talk about is the emotional side. They want their mothers to talk to them about: ‘How do I know if this boy is just using me? How do I know if I’m ready for it?’ That’s the part where mothers play a huge role that the Internet or their friends just can’t do.”
Berman says it’s important to start an ongoing conversation when your kids are young that will continue to develop as they get older.
“They want a sense from a very early age, not so much about the nuts and bolts about sex, but that it’s okay to ask questions about their body,” Berman says. “If you wait to have that one big talk until they’re 13, 14, it’s often too late.” Oprah.com: Get Dr. Berman’s guide to help start the conversation
She believes that making them feel good about themselves is key.
“Feeling good about their bodies. Feeling good about their genitals. Feeling good about their sexual function. Feeling empowered about who they are as people and as sexual beings. And then that makes the path so much easier when they’re in their teen years.”
The magazines’ survey says 78 percent of mothers think their daughters feel comfortable talking to them about sex — but only 39 percent of daughters actually do.
When it comes to teenagers, Berman urges all parents to stay calm when approached for information. Overreacting, she says, could make your child hesitant to come to you in the future.
“Listen — don’t just lecture them,” Berman says. “[Encourage them] to ask questions about the words and the terms and the things they’re hearing about at school, to ask questions about what they’re seeing in the media.”
Amy, a mom from Tennessee, wants to have the talk with her 10-year-old daughter, Jordan, but she says she feels sick to her stomach every time she thinks about it. And it doesn’t help that Jordan’s asked for the talk one or two times a week for six months!
Amy says she’s scared of saying the wrong thing. “Something that’s going to scare her or confuse her,” she says. “I don’t ever want to let my daughter down. That’s my biggest thing. I don’t ever want her to ever think she can’t talk to me.”
Berman thinks Amy is putting too much pressure on herself. “What’s happened now is that Jordan’s been asking you and asking you, and there’s this whole [air] of secrecy around it,” she says. “The secrecy can be more damaging than just telling it like it is.”
Berman says the main goal of any sex talk is to communicate that sex is a very normal and natural thing. There are three main topics to cover: male and female anatomy, the mechanics of making a baby. and becoming familiar and comfortable with your genitals. “I don’t think I can say ‘masturbation’ to my 10-year-old yet,” Amy says. “I don’t even think I say that to my girlfriends!”
Berman says it’s important to talk to kids about getting to know their own bodies — and that many kids have been exploring themselves since they were babies.
“It’s about soothing,” Berman says. “It’s not about sexual arousal and the sexual connotations that we put on it. It’s just about normalizing it for them and setting the seeds that this is normal.”
After some more coaching, Amy says she’s ready to face Jordan. “I’m going to be sitting nearby, ready to hold your hand and jump in and help you,” Dr. Berman says.
Jordan says she became curious about sex after reading a book about growing up. When she got to the section on sexuality, Amy closed the book. “She said it wasn’t for kids,” Jordan says.
Ever since then, Jordan says her mom has been promising to have the talk. “It’s been eight months,” she says. “I get kind of frustrated. And I hope I learn about adult stuff that I need to learn. Because if I don’t know when I’m older, it’s going to be embarrassing.”
After many frustrating months and a little help from Berman, Jordan finally gets the chance to ask her mom anything she wants.
Jordan got a lot of information in one sitting, but Berman says it’s best to tackle the issue in stages. “They’ll first ask how are babies made usually, and you can say, ‘It comes from a very special place inside a mother’s body named a uterus.’ And you can even show a picture of the uterus at that point and get them familiar with anatomy,” she says.
Berman says many kids will ask how the baby gets in the uterus, then how a man’s seed gets into a woman. “It’s sort of usually a more processed, kind of piece-by-piece conversation in an ideal world,” she says.
Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She’s also a psychotherapist, international bestselling author and host of the The Verywell Mind Podcast.
Ann-Louise T. Lockhart, PsyD, ABPP, is a board-certified pediatric psychologist, parent coach, author, speaker, and owner of A New Day Pediatric Psychology, PLLC.
If your child is exhibiting sexual behavior, it’s appropriate to be concerned. That said, you don’t necessarily need to panic. Develop a plan to address the behavior and determine whether you’ll need to seek professional help.
The first step is to make sure that you understand sexual development. While it can be normal for a 3-year-old to reach down their pants in front of other people, it’s not normal for a 13-year-old to exhibit the same behavior.
Here’s what parents should know about age-appropriate sexual development, and what to do if you are concerned about your child’s behavior.
Teach Appropriate Behavior
Young children don’t understand the concepts of modesty and boundaries unless they are taught. Therefore, it’s important for caregivers to teach them which behaviors are appropriate and which are not.
Young children need to be taught about their bodies as well as issues surrounding safe touch. They should also be given information about how to respond if someone tries to touch them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable.
Kids need to be given information that is appropriate for their age. For example, when a 5-year-old asks where babies come from, you don’t need to give them all the details. Instead, you might say something like, “Babies grow in the uterus, which is inside a mother’s belly.”
Older children can be given more facts about sex and puberty as they mature. It’s important to develop and maintain an open line of communication to help young people feel comfortable coming to you with their questions and asking for help when necessary.
It’s also a good idea to establish household rules that teach children appropriate boundaries. For example, you could have a rule like, “Knock on closed doors and wait for a response before entering,” or “One person in the bathroom at a time.”
Respond to Inappropriate Sexual Behavior
When inappropriate sexual behaviors occur, it’s important to respond in a non-shaming way. To start, you’ll need to teach them the difference between private and public behavior. For example, if your 4-year-old reaches into their pants while you’re in the grocery store, remind them that it’s not something to do in public.
Respond calmly and avoid using words that could shame your child, such as “nasty” or “naughty.” If your child feels shame, they may feel like they shouldn’t talk to you if they have questions about sex or their body.
Reasons for Sexualized Behavior
A child could be exhibiting inappropriate sexualized behavior for many reasons. Sometimes kids exhibit sexualized behavior simply because they don’t understand that it’s not appropriate. However, it can also be a sign of something more serious.
Children who are exposed to sexual content are more likely to exhibit sexualized behavior. Sexualized behaviors are sometimes a warning sign that a child has been sexually abused.
Not all sexualized behavior is caused by sexual abuse. Children who are exposed to media (like TV shows and movies) that aren’t developmentally appropriate for them may begin to act out the sexualized content they see.
Kids can also be exposed to graphic images online. Be sure to teach your children about the Internet and online safety. If they are too young to understand how to keep themselves safe on the Internet, they are too young to use devices that connect to the web.
Kids can also be exposed to sexual content by their peers. Older kids on the bus might tell inappropriate jokes or younger children might overhear peers discussing graphic material they’ve witnessed.
Warning Signs of a Serious Problem
Sexualized behavior sometimes signals a more serious problem and might require professional intervention. Potential warning signs include:
- Sexualized behavior that is not developmentally appropriate. For example, a 12-year-old walking around the house naked.
- Coercive sexualized behavior. It is never appropriate for sexualized behavior to be coercive, such as a child trying to convince another child to engage in sexual activity by making threats or using aggression.
- Obsessive sexualized behavior. It’s a red flag if a child focuses a lot of time and energy on sexualized behavior, such as being intent on trying to watch a sibling undress.
- Behavior that doesn’t respond to redirection. If you have appropriately addressed a child’s sexualized behavior but it continues, it should be a cause for concern.
- Sexualized behavior that interferes with a child’s life. It’s also a problem if a child’s behavior interferes with friendships or school (for example, a child not being allowed back at a friend’s house after trying to pull the friend’s pants or being pulled out of class repeatedly).
- Sexualized behavior that shows mature knowledge of sex. It’s a red flag when children have a mature knowledge of sexual behavior and they act on that knowledge. For example, a 4-year-old shouldn’t be imitating adult sexual activity and an 8-year-old shouldn’t be attempting to access pornography.
Seek professional help if you’re concerned about your child’s sexualized behavior. Talk to your pediatrician or mental health professional. They can conduct an assessment and make treatment recommendations to help your child.
How to start the important conversation and keep it going.
It can be hard to talk to your children about racism. Some parents worry about exposing their children to issues like racism and discrimination at an early age. Others shy away from talking about something they themselves might not fully understand or don’t feel comfortable discussing. Yet others, especially those who have experienced racism, simply do not have such choices.
Conversations about racism and discrimination will look different for each family. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, the science is clear: the earlier parents start the conversation with their children the better.
Babies notice physical differences, including skin colour, from as early as 6 months. Studies have shown that by age 5, children can show signs of racial bias, such as treating people from one racial group more favourably than the other. Ignoring or avoiding the topic isn’t protecting children, it’s leaving them exposed to bias that exists wherever we live. Children who encounter racism, can be left feeling lost while trying to understand why they are being treated a certain way, which in turn can impact their long-term development and well-being.
Being silent cannot be an option.
How to talk to your child about racism
The way children understand the world evolves as they grow, but it’s never too late to talk to them about equality and racism. Here are some age-appropriate ways to start that conversation and explain that racism is always wrong:
Under 5 years
At this age, children may begin to notice and point out differences in people they see around them. As a parent, you have the opportunity to gently lay the foundation of their worldview. Use language that’s age-appropriate and easy for them to understand.
- Recognize and celebrate differences – If your child asks about someone’s skin colour, you can use it as an opportunity to acknowledge that people do indeed look different, but to point out things we have in common. You could say, “We are all human, but we are all unique, isn’t that amazing”!
- Be open – Make it clear that you’re always open to your children’s questions and encourage them to come to you with them. If your children point out people who look different – as young children can often do from curiosity – avoid shushing them or they will start to believe that it’s a taboo topic.
- Use fairness – Children, especially those around 5, tend to understand the concept of fairness quite well. Talk about racism as unfair and unacceptable and that’s why we need to work together to make it better.
It’s OK not to have all the answers.
Children this age are better at talking about their feelings and are eager for answers. They are also becoming more exposed to information they may find hard to process. Start by understanding what they know.
- Be curious – Listening and asking questions is the first step. For example, you can ask what they’re hearing at school, on television and through social media.
- Discuss the media together – Social media and the internet may be one of your children’s main sources of information. Show interest in what they are reading and the conversations they are having online. Find opportunities to explore examples of stereotypes and racial bias in the media, such as “Why are certain people depicted as villains while certain others are not?”.
- Talk openly – Having honest and open discussions about racism, diversity and inclusivity builds trust with your children. It encourages them to come to you with questions and worries. If they see you as a trusted source of advice, they are likely to engage with you on this topic more.
Teenagers are able to understand abstract concepts more clearly and express their views. They may know more than you think they do and have strong emotions on the topic. Try to understand how they feel and what they know, and keep the conversation going.
- Know what they know – Find out what your children know about racism and discrimination. What have they heard on the news, at school, from friends?
- Ask questions – Find opportunities such as events in the news for conversations with your children about racism. Ask what they think and introduce them to different perspectives to help expand their understanding.
- Encourage action – Being active on social media is important for many teenagers. Some may have begun to think about participating in online activism. Encourage them to do so as an active way to respond and engage with racial issues.
Try to find ways to introduce your child to diverse cultures and people from different races and ethnicities. Such positive interactions with other racial and social groups early on help decrease prejudice and encourage more cross-group friendships.
You can also bring the outside world into your home. Explore food from other cultures, read their stories and watch their films.
Be conscious of racial bias in books and films and seek out ones that portray people from different racial and ethnic groups in varied roles. Consider stories that feature minority actors playing complex or leading characters. This can go a long way in confronting racial and discriminatory stereotypes.
If your children are in school, find out from their teacher about how racism is covered in class and school rules and regulations to prevent and deal with it. Join parents’ groups to share resources and concerns with teachers and school leadership.
Explore the past together to better understand the present. Historical events like the end of apartheid in South Africa, the civil rights movement in the United States and other movements for equality around the world remain symbols of a traumatic past that societies are still recovering from. Understanding them together can shine a light on how far we’ve come and how much further we still have to go. These shared experiences can further help your child build trust and openness to different perspectives.
There are no others, just other people.
You are the example your child follows
Parents are children’s introduction to the world. What they see you do is as important as what they hear you say.
Like language, prejudice is learned over time. In helping your child recognize and confront racial bias, you should first consider your own — does your friend circle or people you work with represent a diverse and inclusive group?
Take every opportunity to challenge racism, demonstrate kindness and stand up for every person’s right to be treated with dignity and respect.
This article was updated on 2 July 2020.
Information compiled by Michael Sidwell and Supreet Mahanti, UNICEF.
A mother’s letter to her adult daughter. by Glenda Gibbs
Briefing – I had made an earlier request for help, to which my daughter didn’t want to have anything to do with it. After sharing a few thoughts, I scripted the following and sent it. Note: With my daughter’s permission and her name removed we agreed this letter might benefit other mothers and their adult daughters.
Dear Adult Daughter,
We have for the most part – one way relationship. It doesn’t seem reciprocating. Reciprocating means sharing /exchanging. Our relationship exchange seems conditional – when it’s good for you, you’re available, when not …
Yesterday on the phone I heard the word “guilt” – that you didn’t want me to “guilt you into doing things for me” – I can’t make you feel guilty unless you choose to feel guilty. If you’re feeling guilty perhaps you aren’t living up to your potential. Just maybe guilt is the key to motivate you, I don’t know.
I feel like your demand is ongoing, very rarely are you satisfied for long, there’s another drama, another fire to put out, more money needed – perhaps being rescued is your way of assuring yourself that you’re loved – and a payback for not being protected as a child.
I further suggest your unwillingness to volunteer to help me or come to my house is because you hold energy/thoughts/feelings all associated with how you were denied/wronged as a child. These behaviors along with your unwillingness to get professional help or delve into your own personal development are met with stubbornness, know it all attitude, anger, and reasons/excuses of why I (along with others/events) are always to blame – consider this: you’re stuck.
Speaking for myself in this moment, generally when there is change or I need something, I’m met with a wall of resistance.
Your usage of marijuana, smoking and weight gain are all self medicating methods to reduce anxiety.
Yes, you’re very smart, never a question. You’ve learned the typical therapeutic knowledge and processes … no different than what I’ve experienced – and life wasn’t working for me either … sort of like memorizing the manual to ride a bicycle and getting on it and putting that intellectual collection of information to use – not – the application/experience is entirely different. You haven’t been willing to do the work – doesn’t make you bad or wrong – it means that your survival mechanisms are doing their job.
At some point I wish for you that you’ll “pony up” … quit playing a “lose-lose” game with your life … that will be a different message to teach your children and your husband. The benefits you’ll experience will be profound.
I can’t change what happened to you – and as I’ve shared, I apologize. I did the best I knew to do.
For you, there is that little girl who resides within you and continues to be upset and crying out for attention, needs proof she’s loved … I can’t do the work for you … only you can … she needs to know you’re there for her
Your response to my needing help with my moving – accepting your offer now – let’s don’t. I’ll take care of this move for myself. There are other ways to get my needs met without dealing with the resistances, drama and adding additional stress.
I don’t love you less – I love you very much, more than you believe.
Glenda is passionate about leaving the world a better place, people feeling better about themselves and the power of positive thinking. She loves to share her wisdom and experiences as an integrative coach/counselor, facilitator and writer.
Mother. It’s a role as old as time, and while we have a dictionary definition of what it means to be a mother (of course, we do!), all mothers aren’t the same nor are the words we use to address them or speak about them. There are a host of synonyms for mother (and the roles mothers play) that we can use when we talk about the women who raise children.
Click through to see some of our favorites … and find a few that may expand your vocabulary too.
Let’s start with the mother ship, if you will.
Evidence of the word mother itself can be traced back to before the year 900. In Old English, the term modor was used to address any older woman, particularly those who were considered to be in a lower class. Today mother can be used as a noun, adjective, or verb. The word is believed to stem from the natural “ma” sound babies make.
Evidence of the use of mama in English doesn’t appear until much later than mother—in the 1540s. This informal term for mother, which can be spelled with an additional M as well (mamma), is also used as a slang term for an attractive woman.
A popular variant of the word—mommy—is an Americanism, which can be traced back to early 1900.
Do you know why babies start with “mama” to begin with? Take a look at our article and see!
While the first definition of progenitor is pretty basic—“a biologically related ancestor”—the word has a certain kind of superhero ring to it. The second definition is also quite fitting for moms: “a person or thing that first indicates a direction, originates something, or serves as a model; predecessor; precursor.”
Progenitor entered English around 1350–1400 from the Latin word prōgenitor, which means “the founder of a family.” The word genitor also means “parent,” but it’s used more frequently to refer to a father more than a mother.
If you want to get more formal, you may refer to a mother as a matriarch. Defined as a “female head of family or tribal line,” first evidence of the word can be found around 1600.
It’s made up of two combining forms: matri- (meaning “mother”) and -arch (meaning “chief, leader, ruler”). When a family, society, or other group is led by women, it’s called a matriarchy as opposed to a patriarchy, which is one led by men.
The first definition of the verb nurture is “to feed and protect,” which sums up a mom’s job quite well. The second and third definitions are spot on as well: “to support and encourage, as during the period of training or development; foster” and “to bring up; train; educate.” Check, check, and check.
Nurture, which entered English around 1350–1400, comes from the Latin word nūtrīre, which means “to feed.”
While most moms aren’t designing any buildings, it’s the third definition of the word architect that fits to a T: “the deviser, maker, or creator of anything.”
Because they make everything from dinner to play-date plans (and about a million things in between), many moms can definitely add architect to their unofficial résumé. Entering English around the mid-1500s, architect is derived from the Greek combining forms archi- (meaning “first or principal”) and tektōn (“craftsman or builder”).
They call human moms mama bears for a reasons. They are fierce protectors of their little ones. Try to break their baby’s heart and hear them roar! But we think bulwark, a synonym for protector, is even more fierce.
The word bulwark comes from Germanic roots equivalent to the English bole (“stem or trunk of a tree”) and work, as in a constructed thing. So, a bulwark is thought to originally mean “a defensive work made from tree trunks.”
This makes more sense when we consider the first definition of the word: “a wall of earth or other material built for defense; rampart.” Bulwark has been recorded since the 1400s.
While canonization isn’t likely, many people (teenagers aside) would say their moms are saints. The second definition of saint—”a person of great holiness, virtue, or benevolence”—is definitely befitting many a mom.
The word saint comes from the Latin word sānctus, meaning “sacred.” A synonym for saint, the phrase glorified soul is another one you might want to work into that Mother’s Day card.
No one is more indomitable than a mother going to bat for one of her children. This adjective means “that cannot be subdued or overcome, as persons, will, or courage; unconquerable,” and anyone who has gone up against a mom on a mission knows it well.
Indomitable comes from a Latin word meaning “untamed.” It entered English sometime around 1625–35.
Though not officially a synonym, perhaps the most fitting word of all for mom is superwoman. Talk about superpowers! Who but a mom can smell a dirty diaper from miles away and save the day with just the right words? OK, many dads can too, but for now we’re talking moms, and we think most of them deserve a cape.
Super- means “above” or “beyond,” and if the super skills of potty training and coaching kids through puberty don’t go above and beyond the call of any duty, we don’t know what does.
Even though the word human might contradict what we just said about moms, it’s important to include on this list. As we lavish praise on our moms, let’s not forget one detail: no matter how many hours they parent and nurture and rescue (and parent again), they’re only human.
As an adjective, human can mean “having the attributes of man as opposed to animals, divine beings, or machines,” a description that suits mothers perfectly. (They’re not—please repeat with us—machines. So help out with the laundry, OK?) The word human is first recorded in English around 1350. It comes from the Latin hūmānus, which is related to the Latin homō or “man.”
While we’re all for praising moms for being amazing, sweet, and generous (go on—use all the synonyms), let’s also give them the very well-deserved, very human break they need!
Now put it all together with tips for writing a heartfelt Mother’s Day card, and bring a smile (and maybe a tear!) to her face.
Jordan, Tyler, come here. Sit down. I wanted to speak to you today about something that’s been on Mommy’s mind a lot lately. As you know, it’s been almost two whole years since your father passed away, and we all miss him very, very much. But after a long period of mourning, I think we’ve finally healed enough as a family to begin moving forward with our lives. So, after giving it a lot of thought, your mother has come to the decision that she is finally ready to start fucking again.
It’s time, kids. Your mother can’t go on grieving forever.
Now, I know you guys only want to think of me as just “Mom,” and that’s okay! Believe me, nothing brings me greater joy than being your Mom. But the truth is, I’m more than just the lady who tucks you in at night and used to kiss your boo-boos. I’m also a grown-up, and grown-ups have certain—how should I put this—needs that can only be met by other grown-ups. Very special needs. Like companionship. And affection. And the steady thrust of a man’s engorged penis sliding ever so gently, deeper, deeper, inside of her.
What I’m trying to say is sometimes your mother gets lonely and feels like spending some time with a person her own age. A special friend, you might say. A special friend who will tenderly lick your mother’s breasts, and her clitoris, and maybe pull her hair when she asks him to. But I want you to know that I am not trying to replace your father, okay? Your father will always be your father, and no one could ever replace him. This isn’t about that.
This is about finding a well-hung fuck-stud to shove his manhood inside of Mommy and, with any luck, bring her to a shattering climax. A man—any man—who will fuck her hard and fuck her soft and fuck her however she wants it, whenever she desires.
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Believe me, kids, if your father were still around to slam me silly, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. But he’s not, and I know this is exactly what he would have wanted. You’ll understand when you’re older.
And please don’t think that once I get a little deep dicking things won’t be the same around here. You might worry that these new friends I’m inviting back to my bedroom at all hours of the night to turn me inside out will become more important to me than you. Well, let me tell you right now: Even an 18-year-old quarterback with a face like Johnny Depp’s and the dong of a Clydesdale could never, ever make me forget that you are the most important things in my life. His perfect, smooth cock would still pale in comparison to you two. Even if it had a big thick throbbing head.
And no, you won’t have to call this person daddy. I will, but you don’t have to.
Oh, my perfect little angels. This must seem so unfair to you. Here we are, finally getting settled into our new lives, and now I go and throw another curveball at you. I’m sure this is all very confusing, and I know you guys must think it’s too soon for your mother to get screwed so hard her fillings come loose. To get porked rotten. To have her sugar wall churned into cotton candy. To taste the sweaty tang of a man’s thickening shaft. To have her ass ridden raw all the way to San Antonio. To break it off so nasty that the very angels in heaven have to avert their eyes. To be thrown around like a rag doll, back and forth, upside down, fucked, stuffed, and eaten out till she honks like a goose. To have her anus drilled like a well of West Texas crude. To get split in half by Dominicans twins with balls like grape melons. But trust me, Mommy is ready for all of these things, and I promise you that everything will turn out fine. Just remember: I’m your mother, and I love you more than anything in the whole wide world. Even multiple orgasms. Never forget that.
It’s important to talk with your teen about sex. According to the Centers for Disease Control and the Guttmacher Institute, recent studies show that about one third of high school students have had sex, and 9% have had sex with four or more partners– this includes 3 percent who have had sex before age 13. Parents need to share their values about sex with their children, because teens will also get information from other kids and the media.
What to say about sex
Deciding what to say to your teen about sex is a personal decision. Regardless of what you say, be sure the information is age-appropriate. In general, younger teenagers (in about 7th grade) are concerned with puberty and physical changes to their body, the definition of slang terms, and intercourse. Older teens (10th grade) are more interested in other things. They include birth control, health risks, and communication in relationships.
In general, boys are more interested in slang terms and intercourse. Girls typically want information on health risks and communication in relationships.
To prepare yourself to answer your teen’s questions, contact your local health department or speak with your physician. You also may want to ask your pastor or other spiritual adviser for guidance. You can also get free information on many issues from Planned Parenthood. Finally, check out the Related resources below.
How to talk about sex
Here are tips for talking with your teenager about sex.
- Admit it’s awkward. It’s OK to let your children know it makes you uncomfortable to discuss sex with them. They will probably feel the same. They will respect your honesty. Admitting it is awkward may make it more comfortable for both of you.
- Know what you are talking about. Make sure you are dispelling myths about sex and sexually transmitted infections, and giving your teen the facts. It’s OK to say you don’t know right now. Be sure to find the answer and tell your teen later. Again, check out the resources at the bottom of this page for more information. Listen carefully to your teen’s concerns and feelings, and respect views. Be sure to answer only the question your teen is asking. This will help prevent you from giving information your teen might not be ready for.
- Let your teen know love is not the same thing as sex. Teenagers fall in love often and intensely. That doesn’t mean they have to have sex or that they’re ready to have sex.
- Emphasize that your teen has a choice about whether to have sex. Role play how to say “no.” There are a lot of safe, intimate things teens can do without having sex (from holding hands to kissing to more intimate touching). Remind your teen that everybody is not “doing it.”
- Don’t lecture or threaten your teen. This will discourage your teen from talking to you in the future.
Preparing to talk with your teen
You can never be totally prepared to talk with your teen about sex. Avoiding the issue does not mean your child will avoid sexual activity. Ask yourself what you would do in the following scenarios:
- You suspect your daughter is getting serious with her boyfriend.
- You found your son and his girlfriend home alone in his room.
- You found condoms or birth control pills in your teen’s room.
- You found out your daughter was pregnant.
Start thinking about these scenarios before they happen. You might not be able to control your teen’s behavior. But you can prepare and control your response to that behavior.
Passing on values
You can’t control your teen’s sexual activities once he or she walks out the door. But it is possible to explain your values to your teen in hopes of influencing his or her decisions. What you believe about sex and sexuality is important to your teen. How do you feel about your own sexuality and your teen’s sexuality and sexual behavior?
Be willing to talk with your teen about what you think is right and wrong. Be prepared for your teen to disagree with you. Listen to your teen’s ideas, but state your beliefs firmly. Be honest and clear about the values you hope your teen will adopt.
By Susan Cain
What’s your life story?
I don’t mean where you grew up, went to school, got your first job, etc. I mean what’s your STORY? What narrative have you constructed from the events of your life? And do you know that this is the single most important question you can ask yourself?
According to the fascinating field of “narrative psychology,” the stories we tell about ourselves are the key to our well-being. If you’ve interpreted the events of your life to mean that you’re unlucky or unwise, it’s hard to look optimistically at the future. Conversely, if you acknowledge that you’ve made mistakes and faced difficulties but seek (or have already glimpsed) redemption, you’ll feel a much greater sense of agency over your life.
That time you were laid off, for example, is it further proof that your career’s going nowhere? Or is it the best thing that ever happened, liberating you to find work that suits you better?
What about your divorce? Is it a sign you’re unlucky in love or a difficult passage to a more hopeful romance?
The idea is not to delude yourself that bad things are actually good. It is, instead, to find meaning in the progression from one event to the next. It is to recognize that everything constantly changes. In your life, you will move from triumph to heartbreak to boredom and back again, sometimes in the space of a single day. What are you to make of so many emotions, so many events?
The facts matter less than the narrative.
Once upon a time, an 18-year-old Frenchwoman named Sophie Serrano gave birth to a baby girl, who suffered from neonatal jaundice.
The baby spent her first days in an incubator under artificial light and was returned to her mother four days later. Unbeknownst to Sophie, it wasn’t her baby. It was another 4-day-old with jaundice. The nurse had switched the babies by accident.
Sophie named her daughter Manon. As she grew older, Manon looked nothing like her parents. She had darker skin and frizzy hair, and the neighbors started to gossip about her origins.
But Sophie never faltered. The nurse had explained that the artificial light used to treat jaundice could affect hair color. Even more, Sophie loved Manon. She knew the story of her life: her cries, her coos, her first words.
It was only when Sophie’s husband accused her of giving birth to another man’s baby that she went for paternity tests and discovered that her husband was right (sort of). The baby, then aged 10, wasn’t his, but she wasn’t Sophie’s either. She belonged to another set of parents, who had been raising Sophie’s biological daughter in a town several miles away.
It’s a typically fascinating “switched at birth” tale. But here’s where it takes an unexpected turn.
A meeting was arranged for the two mothers and their daughters. Sophie saw that her biological daughter looked just like her in a way that Manon did not and never would.
But she felt no connection to this other girl. It was Manon she had nursed, Manon whose nightmares she’d soothed, and Manon whose stories she knew. This other daughter looked just like Sophie—but what did that even mean, when she didn’t know her stories? The other mother felt the same way.
“It is not the blood that makes a family,” Ms. Serrano told The New York Times (where I read this story). “What makes a family is what we build together, what we tell each other.”
Our stories are everything. They are the heart of love and of meaning.
So what is your story? Are you telling the right one? And are you telling it to the right people?
Here are three sets of people to tell your stories to:
1. “Declare yourself” to your colleagues at work. Doug Conant, the much-admired former CEO of Campbell Soup and founder of Conant Leadership (and one of my favorite people), is an introvert who’s not inclined to schmooze and self-disclose. So he scheduled “Declare Yourself” meetings, one at a time, with each of his direct reports. The purpose of these meetings was to tell his employees his story: how he liked to work, his management philosophy, and the things and people that mattered to him most. (We at Quiet Revolution are partnering with Conant Leadership to develop a “Declare Yourself” tool that you can use with your colleagues. Stay tuned on that.)
2. Share your stories with your family. A few weeks ago, I told my 7-year-old son about a story I’m writing for kids. I mentioned that I’d been working on this story for months. “How come you never told me before?” he wanted to know. He was genuinely shocked—maybe even a little hurt—that I’d kept the plot points to myself. “I guess I didn’t think you’d be interested,” I told him truthfully. He is obsessed with soccer and ice hockey, and mine is a story of girls, time travel, and shyness. But it bothered him that I had a story I’d chosen not to mention. From now on, I’ll err on the side of sharing the things I dream up even if they have nothing to do with soccer balls and hockey pucks.
3. Tell your story to yourself—and make sure you tell the right one. If you’re having trouble constructing an honest yet positive life narrative, here is an exercise to help you. Just ask yourself these three things:
- Can you think of an early part of your life when you felt strong and happy? If you had a difficult childhood or other challenges that prevent you from identifying this starting place, try thinking of the time when you were still cradled in the womb.
- What was the challenge, or series of challenges, that came along to threaten your strength and peace?
- Can you find meaning in these challenges? You don’t need a classic happy ending as long as you’ve found meaning. And don’t worry if you’re not there yet. Just think of the outcome you’d like to see one day. And remember the words of mythologist Joseph Campbell: “Where you stumble is where your treasure lies.”
Want to share your story? I’d love to hear them!
There was a time when pornography was not a part of most men’s everyday lives. If a nice guy wanted to look at porn, he had to go into an adult bookstore or quickly ask for a “girlie” magazine in a convenience store when no one was around. Those days are long gone. Now even good men are tempted every day to click their way to pornography. If you think your husband looks at porn, read on.
If your husband is looking at pornography regularly, what should you do? Confront him? Try to catch him in the act? Well, you really shouldn’t do either. That’s the advice given in the new book, Through a Man’s Eyes: Helping Women Understand the Visual Nature of Men by relationship expert Shaunti Feldhahn and her coauthor, Craig Gross.
Shaunti and Craig say that if your husband is hiding his porn habit, that’s actually a positive sign because he knows it’s not right and that it would hurt you. So take a deep breath and read the rest of their great advice. Here are 5 Things to Do If Your Husband Looks at Porn.
1. Take action.
Finding out that your husband looks at porn can be devastating to your sense of self-esteem and self-worth. We get that. In fact, you’re probably going through a whole whirlwind of feelings… that’s okay and normal. But the worst thing you can do right now is either lash out in anger or plug your fingers in your ears, clamp down on your heart, and try to ignore the problem. Like it or not, this now must be dealt with for your health, your husband’s health, and the health of your marriage. It’s also the right time to make praying for your husband a priority.
2. Get support.
You do not have to suffer through this alone. You are not the only woman suffering through this type of indignity. We hope you will talk through your feelings with a trusted female friend or family member, even seek out a qualified marriage counselor to help you navigate this time until you regain trust and restore your marriage. (Here are some tips for how to find the right marriage counselor.)
3. See it for what it is.
I know this is hard, but instead of looking at porn usage as solely a betrayal, see it as a sickness. Your husband is in ill health sexually. If he was physically ill and was in despair over it, would you be angry and confront him, or would you have empathy for him? The same reasoning applies here: If he’s using porn and hates that he does, it will likely help you to at least try to look at your husband not as a betrayer nor as a victim, but as a person who is sick and needs help.
Instead of looking at porn usage as solely a betrayal, see it as a sickness.
4. Confront or catch?
Neither. Confrontation or catching him might feel good by giving you the moral high ground, but the question you need to be asking yourself is, Do I want to be personally right or relationally whole? Assuming you want to be relationally whole, you broach the subject as calmly as you can.
You can say something like, “Honey, I’ve found out about something. I know you’ve been looking at porn, and while I’m hurt and angry, I still love you and want to see you in a healthy place sexually. Let’s talk about this.” Likely his eyes will go wide, his face will go deathly pale, and his mouth will suddenly feel stuffed with cotton, but I bet he will feel a tremendous sense of relief that his secret is out. You may need to give him a bit of time before he will be able to talk about it in a meaningful way.
5. Have hope.
Depending on how far into porn use he has gone, it is possible that the consequences could be serious. It is possible that rebuilding your marriage and the trust essential to it will take a lot of work. But with good help, good information, a lot of good conversations, and good boundaries, your marriage can and will be restored to an even greater place than it’s every been.
Let’s Talk: Does your husband use pornography? How do you handle it?
Shaunti Feldhahn is a bestselling author, popular public speaker, and groundbreaking researcher. This wife and mother now applies her analytical skills to illuminating those important, surprising truths that people really need to understand about each other.
No, Aunt Doris, I’m not getting married any time soon.
The holiday season is here, and we’re preparing to stuff our faces, see distant family and friends, and brace ourselves for those cringe-worthy questions relatives tend to ask about personal issues that are really no one’s business. Still no boyfriend? When are you two going to have children? When’s the wedding going to happen?
Why do people grill you like this in the first place? “Often this kind of persistent prying is caused by a kind of entitlement or confusion about what belongs to whom,” Jason Wheeler, PhD, a psychotherapist in New York City, tells Health in an email. And some people ask lots of personal questions to divert any inquiries about their own lives. Sneaky.
Of course, you never have to reply to a question that makes you feel uncomfortable. But there’s a better way to handle things than walking away or giving them the evil eye over the dinner table. Responding in a courteous, respectful, yet guarded manner is the best option, Elaine Rodino, PhD, a psychologist in State College, Pennsylvania, tells Health. These comebacks strike the right note and let you shut down the conversation fast.
Still no boyfriend?
Questions about your love life could reveal a number of things about the person asking. They may want to set you up with someone they know, or are interested in you themselves, says Wheeler. It could also be a covert way to ask about your sexuality. Or they simply hope you’ll say yes so they can commiserate with you about being single.
With so many possibilities, replying with a pleasant but firm “Why do you ask?” is a smart course of action, says Rodino. You share no personal details, and it puts the ball back in the asker’s court. If they follow up with an offer to put you in touch with a great potential partner, for example, you can take it from there. But if they keep prying with a reply like “Because you’re such a catch, I just can’t understand why you’re still single,” shut them down with “If and when I settle down, you’ll be the first to know!” and smile.
Did you lose weight?
Body questions can really rile your defenses, especially if you didn’t shed pounds and sense some judgment behind the query. But first give the asker the benefit of the doubt. “The person might want to know if you have any great diet or exercise tips to share,” says Wheeler, in which case you might reply without saying yes or no but launching right into, “I’ve been easing up on my sugar intake and have never felt better.” That shifts the conversation to health, not weight.
If you’ve decided you don’t want to talk to this potential body shamer and just want a fast escape, turn the question back on the asker with a friendly “Did you?” It’s a polite way to demonstrate how uncomfortable answering such personal questions can be.
When are you getting married/having children?
When people ask this, they’re usually interested in small talk—or are anxious to participate in the wedding or be a big part of the family they hope you’ll be starting. If you don’t want to talk about your future plans in depth, opt for a vague response that turns an entirely different topic back on the asker. “Sometime in the next 10 years. So how are the home renovations going?” or “I’m not sure. I love your sweater, where did you get it?”
Be prepared for relatives who might dig for a more detailed response, especially if they feel entitled to an answer. “Realize how anxious someone is to be a grandparent, perhaps because they have some empty-nest problems,” says Wheeler. If your in-laws keep asking, “I’d rather not discuss it but thanks for asking” should put an end to the convo.
You’re a vegan/vegetarian? Why?
Questions about a diet or lifestyle choice tend to come from a place of misinformation, explains Rodino. If someone is judging your food preferences or trying to convince you to take a bite of turkey or sausage stuffing when they know you don’t eat animal products, an educational response could help the situation.
“Start with ‘That’s a good question, let me explain to you,'” says Rodino. This phrase respects the other person’s question (even if it’s an underlying dig) and allows you to deliver the facts confidently. If you’re vegan, tell your uncle how cutting down on meat intake helps the environment. If you’ve given up alcohol, say how amazing you’ve felt since making the switch.
How’s that job search going?
There’s no shame in being unemployed—but that doesn’t mean it’s a topic to discuss at a gathering of family members you haven’t communicated with since last holiday season. The best comeback is vague and positive (even if the job hunt really isn’t), like “Very well, thanks for asking” or “It’s been productive—but did I tell you about the recent camping trip I went on? It was a great experience. Let me show you some photos.” You’ll get the asker excited to hear about your life without discussing a topic you want to keep to yourself.
And remember, you can simply choose to not answer any question on any topic with a simple “Gee, that’s a personal question. You know, I don’t feel comfortable answering that.” It may feel awkward, but a little awkward silence never hurt anyone. Plus, it’s not your job to put nosy busybodies at ease.
Years ago, I brought a new boyfriend to Christmas dinner. “Is this the same boy as last time?” My uncle asked. That was bad enough, but when I told him no, he followed up with, “Every year, different boy.” Merry Christmas! If your family is anything like mine, they like to ask painfully awkward questions, and this can make the holidays stressful. Here’s how to deal with it.
The obvious answer to all of this is: just tell your family it’s none of their business. But that can make things worse. Chances are, the older adults in your family still see you as a kid, which is why they often think it’s okay to ask private questions in the first place. Saying “nunya” doesn’t do much to clear that up. When your family asks awkward questions, there are better ways to go about it.
Overall, you want to give a short and sweet answer that doesn’t reveal too much and takes the spotlight off of you. A simple, “we’re not thinking about having kids anytime soon” will do. Granted, I answered my uncle’s question rather curtly and he still embarrassed the hell out of me, but I can only imagine how much worse it could have been had I gone into greater detail.
Strategically Change the Subject
Making a joke or offering a curt reply sends a big hint that you don’t feel like discussing the topic. The problem is, some people won’t get that hint, or worse, they won’t care. In that case, you may need to rely on other methods.
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A short answer is great, but it can also leave behind an awkward silence. You can fill that silence by simply changing the subject. Transitions can be tough, though. For example: “No, we’re not having kids. Hey, how about that turkey?” That’s a bad transition, and it can draw more attention to the already awkward moment. Instead, find a bridge. Something like, “No, we’re not having kids. We are planning a trip to Niagara Falls though! You’ve been there, right?” In this case, Niagara Falls is the bridge, and you’ve swiftly changed the subject.
Also, if the family member is genuinely interested in what’s going on with you, a too-obvious deflection won’t work. Here’s what David Klow, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at Skylight Counseling recommends instead:
Try a sort of conversational jujitsu in which you pull the topic towards you before using the questioners momentum against them. Don’t meet force with force. Instead let them in a bit, only to a point where you are comfortable, then swiftly move the topic in another direction. For instance, when a family member asks, “what happened to your ex?” it can be best to just tell the truth. “We weren’t able to make it. You know how relationships can be. Yet he’s a great guy and we’re in a good place. How’s your son doing at college?”
One of my favorite ways to seamlessly change the subject is to ask the person for advice—a risky move, but it can work surprisingly well.
In general, people love to talk about what they know, so when you ask them for advice, they often start talking about themselves instead of you. If you keep your answers short and sweet, this works well. For example, when our family’s friend asked me about having kids, here’s what I said to change the course of the conversations: “Oh, I don’t know. What’s the hardest part about having a baby?”
This turned into a much more pleasant, interesting conversation about this person’s experience with parenthood. But, more importantly, we weren’t talking about my personal life decisions anymore!
Deflecting works well with people who are just trying their best to make conversation. Changing the subject works because it still gives them what they want: something to talk about.
My elder sister has power of attorney for our mother, who has dementia, but I find her difficult to deal with – she keeps me in the dark. Annalisa Barbieri advises a reader
‘I find my sister so slippery to deal with.’ Photograph: Posed by model//Getty Images/iStockphoto
‘I find my sister so slippery to deal with.’ Photograph: Posed by model//Getty Images/iStockphoto
My elder sister has always been tricky for me to deal with as she is very critical and suspicious of anyone’s opinions or motives, and pulls everyone down for their life choices. For the sake of our elderly mother, we all try to bumble along but this has not been easy.
Due to ill health, I have had more financial support from Mum than my sister, on the proviso that all will be evened out with any future inheritance. This has caused tensions between my sister and myself – understandably – but I have done my best to make sure everyone in the family knows and agrees about this. I have found it particularly difficult as my elder sister is two-faced about it – encouraging me to ask Mum for help against any “future money” while saying very horrible things to my other sister.
My mother now has early onset dementia – her memory is poor, and Mum is anxious that we siblings all get on. Because of this, Mum will tell us different things, which of course makes honest communication between us all even more tricky.
Mum has decided to move to live near my elder sister. We are all a bit sad about this (having offered for many years to have her live with us) but all want what’s best for her.
My sister has now become very difficult and refuses to involve my brother or me in any plans (she gets on with my younger sister). While with Mum recently, I read her post for her, to find that my elder sister has now been awarded power of attorney (PoA).
Because I find my sister so slippery to deal with, as I find she moves the truth around to suit her defensive position, I thought long and hard about how to request that she keeps my brother and me in the loop. Her reply was simply, “Why should I?” I just don’t know how to deal with her and want very much to be fair.
Did your mother actively know and approve the power of attorney? Did she have capacity to do that? She can only grant PoA if she has capacity. And, in that case, only the person giving it – in this case your mother – can apply for it. Your sister should not have applied for it on her behalf.
“Any conversation about PoA,” says Gary Rycroft, a solicitor and member of the Law Society wills and equity committee, “should start with the person who wants to give PoA saying, ‘I’d like to give PoA to …’ Not someone saying ‘I’d like to apply for PoA for …’”
In dealing with a tricky member of the family, my advice is to always pick the medium you best converse in – so if you can’t talk to each other, could you consider email for communication? That way, too, you will have a record of what has been said.
It’s interesting that your younger sister gets on with her and I wonder if she could be the one to bring you all together in this? Does your elder sister keep the younger one in the loop about your mother’s care?
I’ve taken out the location where your mother may be moving to as I didn’t want to identify you, but note that if she does move outside England and Wales different laws may apply, according to where her assets are.
How do your other siblings feel? If your mother wants you all to get on, is she aware that you can all be given PoA by her? Just because you don’t get on very well with your sister, doesn’t mean that she will mishandle your mother’s affairs, but I do think that, even in the most convivial family, being transparent, united and correct in the way you handle things for an elderly person is a good idea.
I think you and your other siblings need to establish exactly what your mother wants. This is key – it is her life and assets we are talking about. The questions to ask are:
Who does she want to have as PoA? Does she know all her children can be given PoA? Does she want you to have PoA for property and finance or welfare and health or both (there are two types)? Is her will up to date and does it reflect – if she wants it to – who has already had money from her, such as you?
“When you do this, also ask your mum about her advance care planning and how she’d like you to act on her behalf,” says Rycroft.
No one likes to look into a future where a parent can’t decide things for themselves, but it can make difficult decisions further down the line so much easier.
Contact the Office of the Public Guardian if you feel your mother’s best interests are not being served – ie you have a concern about how your sister is handling your mother’s affairs.
Rycroft thinks the answer to your sister’s question “Why should I?” is simple: “Because we are also our mother’s children and we care about what happens to her.”
Your priority is your mother and her care. If she is being well looked after, if her wishes are being followed and if she is not in any way being exploited, you may need to leave your difference with your sister to one side for now. But I still believe all of you should be involved with your mother and your sister’s care of her should include keeping her siblings up to date.
Jane Flanagan K
What we say to our dogs is important. How we say it is crucial. Different tones of voice are used to distinguish between commands, corrections, and praise. Commands are given in a firm, strong tone of voice. No chanting please. Corrections get a little lower, sharper and growlier. Praise is more exuberant and excited — pleasant, but not so exuberant as to incite him to wiggle out of control.
All commands should be preceded by the dog’s name. How else will Rover know you’re talking to him? But even before that, you’re going to teach Rover to look at you. Trace a line with your index finger from Rover’s eyes to yours. As soon as he makes eye contact, talk to him and encourage him to sustain the eye contact for a few seconds with a “Good watch!” in a pleasant, upbeat tone of voice. You can also get Rover’s attention by taking a little tidbit of food after letting Rover sniff it, moving the food up to your eye level. When Rover looks up, praise him and give him the food treat. Now that you have his attention, he is ready to listen.
Your dog’s mother did not repeat herself over and over again. Neither should you. Once the dog understands what the command means, it should only be said once, “Rover, sit!” If he continues to sniff the air, or otherwise ignore you, it’s “NO, sit!” (an instructive reprimand) and then if you must, place the dogging the sit position.
When teaching a command for the first time, it is important to help the dog to be successful by luring him into the position. Dogs are not born with an innate understanding of words. They learn by associating words with actions.
Be consistent! You should only ask the dog to do one thing at a time. If you ask your dog to “Sit down,” how is he to know which to do? “Sit” and “Down” are two different commands. Be specific with your commands. When you want him off the couch, don’t interchange commands like “down” and “off.” Make sure all family members are using the same commands; otherwise the confusion will delay training success.
Above all, keep it positive. You’re communicating and building a relationship. You work for rewards (salary, bonuses, commissions), so will your dog!
WATCH ME or LOOK AT ME! Get your dog to focus on you and make eye contact.
PHEWY/ECH/NO/WRONG! Wrong choice, the dog blew it. Should be said in a low, firm tone of voice.
OUCH or IEEE! Stop that mouthing, it hurts. When your dog bit down too hard on his littermates, they yelped at him and stopped playing.
GOOD DOG/WHAT A GOOD KID! Right choice. Should be said in an upbeat, happy tone of voice. You want the dog to know that what he did was wonderful and he should keep doing it.
SIT! The most basic of all commands. Can be practiced before eating, at street corners, in elevators, whenever you need to get active control of your dog.
DOWN! This means to lie down. Down is a very subordinate position so some bossy dogs may not readily comply. To be used when you want your dog to be comfortable or when you need control of a dog throwing a tantrum. Do not confuse this with “Off!”
STAND! Use this when you want the dog to go from a sit or down and stand with all four feet on the ground. This is very useful at the vet’s office or at the curb on a rainy day.
STAY! This means do not move from whatever position you are in. You may ask your dog to “sit stay,” “down stay,” etc.
OKAY! Dog is released from whatever position you asked him to assume. He is done working until the next command is given.
LET’S GO! This is the command for controlled walking, what you do on a regular basis with your dog. The dog may go out to the end of his six-foot leash and sniff around and do his thing but he may not drag you down the street or trip you by crisscrossing in front of or behind you.
HEEL! This is a very precise position at your left side. The dog walks along beside you. If you stop, the dog stops. Heel is a good command to use on very crowded streets or when you want your dog very close, such as when there’s broken glass in your path.
COME! When your dog hears this command, he should leave whatever he is doing and come to sit in front of you. Because this can be a lifesaving command, you should always give it in the most cheerful, inviting tones. Reserve a very special treat for teaching it and never use it to call your dog to you to do something he does not like.
OFF! Use this for jumping up on either people, furniture, or counter tops. Don’t confuse this command with “down.”
TAKE IT! Teach your dog to take food or toys using this command. The dog should wait until you give the “take it” command before putting the offered object in his mouth.
DROP IT or OUT or GIVE! This means that the dog should spit out whatever is in his mouth. It is important to teach this command using a reward system or you can create an overly possessive dog.
LEAVE IT! This tells your dog not to even think about picking up the object, to avert your eyes from the object, other dogs, rollerbladers, etc. Very useful on city streets.
Preparing for what may well be a difficult conversation
Maskot / Getty Images
If you are considering dropping out of college, you likely have one or more good reasons. Whether you’re basing the decision on something personal, financial, academic, or a combination of factors, leaving school is likely something to which you’ve given a great deal of thought. While the benefits of dropping out may be clear to you, it’s a good bet that your parents are going to have major concerns. Talking to them about dropping out may not be easy. As hard as it is to know where to begin the conversation or what to say, the following advice may be of help.
Dropping out of college is a big deal. Your parents get it. Even if they had some idea that this conversation was coming, they likely aren’t going to be too pleased about it. Consequently, you owe it to them—and yourself—to be honest about the main reasons driving your decision.
- Are you failing your classes?
- Not connecting socially with others?
- Do you want to change your major and realize this isn’t the right school?
- Are the financial obligations overwhelming?
If you expect to have an honest, adult conversation about dropping out, you’ll need to contribute your own honesty and maturity as well.
As accurate as general statements, such as “I just don’t like it,” “I don’t want to be there,” and “I just want to come home” might be, they’re also vague and therefore not particularly helpful. There’s a good chance that your parents have no idea how to respond to general statements of this sort—other than to tell you to get back to class.
If, however, you’re more specific—you need time off from school to figure out what you truly want to study; you’re burned out and need a break academically and emotionally; you’re concerned about the cost of your education and paying off student loans—both you and your parents can have a constructive conversation regarding your concerns.
Explain What Dropping out Will Accomplish
To parents, dropping out often carries with it “end of the world” overtones because it’s such a serious decision. To assuage their concerns, it will help if you can explain to your folks what you hope to accomplish by leaving school.
Dropping out of your current college or university might seem like the answer to all your problems right now, but it should really be looked at as only one step in a longer, more carefully thought-out process.
Your parents are going to want to know you’ll be doing with your time instead of attending college. Will you work? Travel? Do you think you may want to re-enroll in a semester or two? Your conversation shouldn’t just be about leaving college—it should also include a game plan for moving forward.
Be Aware of the Consequences
Your parents will likely have a lot of questions for you about what’s going to happen if you drop out:
- What are the financial consequences?
- When will you have to start paying back your student loans, or can you put them on deferment?
- What happens to any loan or grant money you’ve already accepted for this term? What about lost credits?
- Will you be able to re-enroll at your institution at a later time, or will you have to reapply for admission?
- What obligations will you still have for any living arrangements you’ve made?
If you haven’t thought about these things already, you should. Having answers to questions such as these before you have “the talk” can be a big help in putting your parents’ minds at ease because they will see it’s not a decision you’re making lightly.
Remember, your parents can be great resources for helping you keep your focus on what’s most important in this difficult time. The key, however, is to fully engage and work in partnership with them to make the transition as painless as possible for everyone involved.
Final Thoughts on Dropping Out
Depending on your circumstances, your heart and mind might be set on leaving school as quickly as you can. If at all possible, however, you should wait out the situation until the end of the current semester. Finish up your classes as best you can, even if you don’t plan to return. It would be a shame to lose credits and have your academic record marred by failed grades in the event you do want to transfer to another school or re-enroll sometime in the future.
Handle your penis with utmost care!
Not much is written or spoken about private areas. But to begin with, the basic thing that all of us know is that vagina and penis are the most sensitive parts of a human body. However, apart from this did you know that there is a lot more about private organs that we all need to take good care of. Yes, we agree that human bodies differ with each person, nonetheless there are some basic things that you must never do when dealing with private organs. Let us focus on penises in this article. You need to be extra careful when you are dealing with a penis. Whether you are having too much sex, taking a shower or cleaning up, you need to be careful. A lot also depends on your food habits. If you want your penis to be healthy and perfectly functioning, you will have to also give up on several bad lifestyle habits. Before you get all paranoid, let us tell you these several things you should never do to your penis. Take these things seriously. Also Read – Fact Check: Have Doctors Adviced COVID-19 Vaccine Injections in Penis For Men? Here’s The Truth
1. Do not smoke too much:
Also Read – Bizarre! Chinese Boy Inserts 2-Feet-Long Metal Wire in His Penis to Find Out Where Urine Comes From!
Now if you didn’t know already, let us tell you that smoking does a lot of harm to your penis. It is obviously a known fact that smoking is not a healthy habit. But do you know how bad it can be for your penis also? Smoking leads to the tissues of penis getting damaged which means that a man will not be able to have an erection during love making. Erectile dysfunction is one of the most commonly seen problems in men and you will be surprised or rather disappointed to know that
2. Drinking too much alcohol:
Too much drinking often leaves a person with a hangover. However, too much drinking will also leaves you with an affected love making because it causes dehydration casing minimal blood flow to the penis. So if you are an alcoholic and drink too much, bring down the habit and make sure that you lead a healthy life. Because if you don’t it will in adversely affect your sex life.
3.Never clean your penis with anything but soap and water:
No matter how dirty or stinky you think your penis is, refrain from using any household cleaners to clean your penis. Be it floor cleaners, toilet cleaners or anything else; avoid using these products on your personal part. Soap and water will work just fine to clean up your penis.
4. Avoid causing your penis too much friction:
A little bit of friction is always suggested, but make sure that the friction is not too much. Intensive friction will only lead to a friction burn on your penis and you will have no option but go to the hospital to get it treated. So always handle with care when dealing with your penis.
5. Pulling your penis should be avoided:
Except for times when you are reliving, avoid pulling your penis too much. Some men have this weird habit of pulling their penis for no good reason. If you think that will help you grow you penis, trust us it won’t. You are just wasting your time. And do not forget that it is your penis not some rubber band to be pulling it this way.
6. Do not attempt everything that you watch on TV:
By TV, we also mean movies like American Pie. Please do not attempt anything that you might have seen. Use your common sense and understand that pie is only meant for eating not anything else. For that matter, any kind of food use down there will only be wasted.
7. Wall sockets or toasters have different purposes:
A wall socket or a toaster is has different purposes. It is not a place for you to go insert your penis, especially not when the power is on. You might be surprised but there are some men who have tried fitting it in inside a socket or a toaster. Chances are you will get electrocuted or you might get bit by some insect.
8. Do not let your partner bite or slap your penis:
A penis is supposed to be very sensitive. So even if you are in the middle of an intense love making session, don’t let your partner bite or slap your penis. Well, you can give it a try if you are okay taking the pain and consequences. It could very well cause a serious injury, so we suggest that you avoid experimenting like this.
9. Bending your penis in extreme angles should be avoided:
The penis has been made in such a way that it is not meant to be bending in any angle. If your penis is erect, you need to take special care that it is no bend in extreme angles. While you are penetrating, make sure you do not get too wild and end up hurting yourself. Amidst all your positions changing, ensure that your penis is safe.
2. Biting before your partner’s ready While many people enjoy an aggressive partner, biting any part of their body before they are aroused may lead to pain and discomfort (and might even lessen the chances of any further action ) or simply scare them off. So make sure your partner is fully excited before you bite their ear, shoulders, neck or any other part of their body.
3. Ignoring everything but sexualised parts
Genitals are great, no doubt, but you should definitely pay attention to other parts of your lover’s body and focus for some time on their entire body – knees, wrists, back and stomach are highly erogenous zones for men as well as women. Gently caressing these areas will help excite your partner further; in turn, increasing the chances of them pleasuring you back.
4. Putting your weight on your partner
Even if you’re a girl! It’s okay to lose yourself in the moment every once in a while and go crazy on your lover. But when you’re lying on top of them, you have to be careful not to drop your weight on them. Chocking them or hindering their ability to breathe will anyway kill the moment and any chances of some good action.
5. Climaxing too soon/ too late
This one is especially for men. You need to have good control on your muscles to ensure that you can ejaculate at an appropriate time. Too soon and you may leave your partner unsatisfied; too late and it might leave your partner feeling as if they’re pumping iron at the gym. To avoid this, spend a lot more time on foreplay (this will help men as well as women). If you take too long and can only ejaculate via manual stimulation, do your best to get your partner to orgasm and then they can return you the favour.
6. Not warning your partner before you climax
If you’re going to let go – and this applies even to women – whether during oral sex or intercourse, you need to tell your partner beforehand. Something as simple as “I’m going to let go,” will suffice. Your partner deserves to know.
7. Treating sex like porn
Although some couples enjoy having raunchy sex, you’d be wise to talk to your partner before you engage in such behaviour. If you begin being nasty with your lover without knowing if they like it first, chances are the scenario won’t end on a happy note.
8. Staying quiet
Do you like to hear it when your partner is having a good time? So pay them the same respect and speak up when you’re enjoying yourself. Something as simple as a little moan, or even saying something like, “that feels so good,” will encourage them and educate them further on your moan zones.
9. Mechanical act
It may feel comfortable to you to pump away like you do at the gym, but you’ll quickly discover that most people don’t enjoy such an act. Mix it up a little bit; go fast at times, then slowly. Be creative and you’ll find yourself enjoying some variation too.
10. Pretending to have an orgasm
A lot of women are guilty of this. We have enough movies and examples that highlight how ladies fake orgasms. It’s true that the orgasm of a woman is still a big mystery for many but that does not mean it should be a fake one. The main reason being, the partner would, some day or the other, get to know this and he would definitely not like it.
11. Jokes about private parts
Not everyone is well endowed when it comes to private parts. Laughing or cracking a joke about a partner’s private part may make him or her feel uncomfortable and it will only ruin the mood. Refrain from giving negative comments on private parts while having sex.
12. Comparing a lover with an ex
There can be no bigger turn off than comparing a partner with an ex-lover during sex. No matter how wonderful sex life you might have had with an ex-partner, mentioning it while having sex is not going to help anyone.
5 Things you should do while having sex
Kissing is the key – If you’re one of those who does not believe in kissing while having sex, then you’re truly missing out on the simple yet grand pleasures of life. While stimulation and physical touch is of utmost importance during sex, kissing adds an erotic satisfaction to the entire experience.
Foreplay is must – Foreplaying is an act that precedes the act of sex itself. It helps to trigger the psychological and physical responses in a person that increases the level of arousal in a person and enhances their sexual urges. If you still feel you’re doing it all wrong, then resort to the pleasures of foreplay.
Locate your best sex positions – Not everyone enjoys the same sexual position. Different positions guarantee different levels of orgasmic pleasures to various people. It is crucial that you locate a compatible yet comfortable position for you and your partner, so that your sexual experience does not become dull and painful.
By Sarah Butler
Updated on: October 28, 2010 / 6:02 PM / MoneyWatch
When our clothes dryer broke the same weekend we hired a babysitter for a few hours, my daughter, 6, informed me, “Mom, we’re spending too much money.” Never mind that the bills were for vastly different amounts. She knew we had to shell out for both replacing the dryer and paying the sitter, and it was too much for her little brain. Either she was really clever about trying to talk us out of having a sitter, or she was all confused about money.
I called Dr. Brad Klontz, a clinical psychologist and author of the book Mind Over Money, to get his take on some of the tricky things kids ask us about money. How should we respond? Here is his advice on the right things to say — and the wrong things.
The Wrong Thing: “I don’t know how we’re going to pay the bills this month.”
Freaking out about the pile of bills? Resist the urge to tell your children about it, because they can’t help. “Don’t give them TMFI: too much financial information,” Klontz says. “We can’t involve them in things they’re powerless to do anything about. Laying that load on a child makes her anxious.”
The Right Thing: Present a confident front, and then involve them with problems they can help solve.
Do have a conversation, because kids are sponges, and if you’re stressed, they’re going to feel it anyway. Tell them what’s going on, and then ask them to help with things they can manage. “Times are kind of tight. Dad lost his job. He’s looking for a new job, but don’t worry about it, Mom and Dad have it handled. This is what we’re going to do. We’re going to be eating out less. Do you have any ideas on stuff we can cook at home?”
The Wrong Thing: “It’s none of your business how much money I make.”
If a kid asks how much money you make, should you tell them? It’s understandable if you don’t trust them to keep that information private. But realize that if you don’t talk about it, you’re sending a signal. “You could be giving them the message that having a lot of money or having a little money is shameful,” Klontz says. “So maybe the kid walks away with the belief that having money must be bad, or that rich people are somehow evil or shallow.” What will that do to his earnings potential?
The Right Thing: Be honest – if you can stomach it.
Klontz meets with 30 adolescents each week, and if they ask about his income, he tells them. (Note to readers: I didn’t have the nerve.) “People will tell you more about their sex lives than how much money they make. I don’t feel any reason to feel ashamed about it,” he says. “If they ask you, I think it’s OK to tell them. You can ask them not to tell their friends, but give them a reason why: You’re afraid other families or friends are going to judge you for having more or less than them.” Try to avoid conveying shame to your kids.
The Wrong Thing: “I work so you can go to camp, art lessons, or play sports.”
If kids are fussing about your long work hours, it’s natural to want to tell them you’re putting in extra hours to fund their activities and their toys.
The Right Thing: Look at what’s really going on.
When your kid makes you feel like you’re not spending enough time with him, that gets you defensive. The right answer is, “Work is important to Mom, but what do you think about us trying to set aside some time when we can be together, you and I?” In this case, it’s not about the money, so resist trying to place an unfair burden on the kids.
The Wrong Thing: “$60 for a Halloween costume? That is way too expensive. I’m sorry, but I just can’t afford it.”
You feel bad or guilty, so you’re apologizing, which only magnifies the issue.
The Right Thing: We have $15 to spend on a costume.
Say it matter-of-factly: “This is our budget, $15. We can go to a thrift store or the Salvation Army, or we can buy something in this range.” If you state it firmly, without letting your emotions in, they probably won’t challenge you on it.
The Wrong Thing: Silence about money.
“Kids make the association very early on between money and the ability to buy things,” Klontz says. “I don’t think you can talk about it too early. The biggest mistake parents make is not talking about it. Because kids will arrive at their own conclusions about how money works, based on what they see us do and what they hear. They always arrive at erroneous conclusions – that’s the child’s mind, right?”
If those understandings aren’t challenged, as they turn into adults, they operate from these beliefs. For example, if a child grows up in a family that’s struggling financially, he might walk away with the belief that there will never be enough money. “There are two typical responses,” Klontz says. “Either he’ll be a workaholic who hoards money and never spends it. Or he’ll be a frivolous spender, because he’s never going to have enough anyway, so why try? The more emotional the experience is growing up, the more tightly we hold onto those beliefs.”
The Right Thing: Share Your Values About Money.
When your son is begging for a new computer game, say no, and say why. “It’s important for kids to get used to the idea that they can’t have everything they want,” Klontz says. Tell them what your other plans are: “With our money, we’re going to choose to have a vacation together or an experience together, to us, that’s more important than things. It’s OK that you want that, maybe that’s something we can think about getting down the road, but for now, we want to spend money on doing something fun as a family. That means a lot to me.”
If you hear a child talking about money, and she seems way off base, it’s a teachable moment. “Stop what you’re doing and say, ‘What do you mean? Where did you hear that?’ It gives you a chance to clarify and challenge whatever that belief is, and help flesh it out so it’s more accurate,” Klontz says.
Do you have something uncomfortable to tell someone? Like maybe she smells bad, or he needs to wash his hair more, or everyone can see her underwear when she bends over? Here’s how to break the news with minimal fallout — and how to decide if you should keep silent instead.
Don’t jump the gun.
Nobody really wants to be the one to tell somebody they stink, so this advice shouldn’t be too hard to follow. Still, you should remember that it’s probably not worth commenting on somebody’s B.O., greasy hair, visible underwear or the like unless it’s causing a problem for you — or you’re pretty sure it’s starting to cause problems for them. I talked to Halley Bock, CEO of Fierce Inc. , a leadership development and training company that focuses on conversation — she says a good rule of thumb when considering whether to confront a coworker is to ask yourself whether the issue is really affecting your work. Donna Flagg, author of Surviving Dreaded Conversations: How to Talk Through Any Difficult Situation at Work , gave me similar advice: “Wait for a pattern to emerge. Definitely don’t say anything the first, second or even third time you notice it.” If it’s something little that can be fixed in the moment — toilet paper on someone’s shoe comes to mind — go ahead and speak up. But for larger issues, it can be a good idea to hold off until you’re sure it’s an ongoing problem.
Don’t speak out of spite.
Bock advises that before you say anything, you should ask yourself if you want to enrich your relationship with the other person. If the answer is no — if you don’t care about them or even want to take them down a peg — then you should probably keep quiet. People can smell fakeness, and an insincere “I’m only saying this because I care about you” isn’t going to help anyone. Nobody likes a concern-troll.
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Pick a private place.
Somebody’s B.O. is not a topic to bring up at a board meeting or a party. Says Flagg, “you want to be sure you are alone and in a private setting, one where you know you will not be interrupted.” She adds,
[W]hen you do speak up, don’t EVER say that several other people have “brought it to your attention.” That’s horrifying for the individual. He or she will become so focused on who else said something and how many other people were talking about him or her, that it derails the conversation and turns it into something negative. A caveat: Sometimes a person will get crazy, especially if they report to you and they blame you for picking on them. In that case, it is sometimes necessary to say you’re not alone in your observations.
Bock says that when you’re delivering uncomfortable information, you need to be “clear, concise, and compassionate.” She explains that some people are so afraid of criticizing others that they “put a lot of pillows around the message, so much so that the message is lost.” So don’t couch your statement in so many qualifiers that the person can’t tell what’s going on. Instead, Bock recommends five steps: name the issue, give an example, describe it objectively (as a video camera would), clarify why it’s important, say you want to resolve it, and invite the person to respond. Flagg offers a somewhat more streamlined approach: “I’m sure you’re not aware of it but thought you’d like to know that I’m noticing an odd odor. I think it might be your. (fill in the blank.)” Another example, if you’re close with a coworker who you think dresses inappropriately: “I think you should reconsider your outfit because it can potentially hurt your image and the impression you’re making on others. I’m concerned people won’t take you seriously, or that they will question your professionalism.” Or if you’re the boss: “I’ve noticed your appearance (or hygiene, or dress) has changed and there are a few things (or one singular thing) wrong that we need to discuss.”
If you feel like you need to couch your statements a little bit, Bock recommends a lead-in like, “I want to talk with you about an issue that may be sensitive, and I find the best way is to be direct.” But then be direct — nobody wants to be in an awkward conversation any longer than they have to.
Let them respond.
Bock says that when confronted with a difficult personal issue, people sometimes react with “denial, defense, or deflection.” Expect this, and stay on track — don’t let the person derail the conversation by talking about someone else’s ugly haircut or whatever. They may have a totally legit explanation — perhaps a medical problem — in which case you should hear them out. But don’t get caught up in an argument if they get defensive. Sometimes, it can be a good idea to just leave and give the person a minute to consider what you’ve said. Relatedly.
If you’re the one who gets called out, it’s totally fine to ask for some time.
Bock notes that feelings of embarrassment, shame, or shock are totally normal if someone just told you there’s something wrong with the way you smell, wash, or dress. You may even feel physically sick or shaken. If that’s the case, it’s totally fine to ask for some time to process what you’ve just heard. Go to a private place, yell, drink a cup of tea, whatever you need to do so that you don’t kill the messenger. And if it turns out you don’t agree, taking a minute will at least keep you from getting in a big argument. Unless the person who confronted you is just an underminer and a jerk (in which case you probably know it), they’re trying to help. Says Flagg,
I always reckon back to how grateful we are when our friends tell us that we have a big piece of spinach in our teeth. They don’t let us walk around and embarrass ourselves. It’s the same mindset, the same thing.
Put it in perspective.
Even though conversations about things like personal hygiene can be fraught, they’re not matters of national security. Don’t treat them that way. Says Flagg,
Don’t make it a big deal. It’s only as big as you make it. Be comfortable just saying the words because a sense that you’re ill-at-ease adds to the recipients discomfort as well. Keep it light.