Tag Archives: Tough Conversations

Language: Who Cares?

We consider ourselves to be fairly regular parents.  We aren’t extreme to either end of the spectrum.  We eat healthfully, but we love our french fries.  We have schedules and routines, but we like to shake things up sometimes (just not bedtimes.  OH GOD not the bedtimes).  In one way that we are more liberal is in our view of language.

We don’t restrict the use of any words in our house.  Our kids – from time to time – say things like “damn it” and “Jesus” and yes, “Oh shit.”  We use these same phrases.  We treat them like words.  Which, you know; is what they are.  When I was in high school, I had a friend who’s parents did not police language.  She swore just as much as the rest of us.  The difference was that she was swearing in front of her parents without fear of punishment, while the rest of us were catching ourselves mid-phrase and changing to “holy sheep” instead.

The other day, Sam’s best friend was walked over to our house by her uncle, for some play time with us.  When she arrived, I was in the kitchen and Connor came and said, “Caleb* is here.  He wants you to know that yesterday, when Sam was at Mary’s* house, he said ‘God damn it’.”

“Ohkayyy….” I said.
“Yeah,” Connor says, “He just wanted you to know.”
“Ok.  Got it.  Wait: is Caleb here?”
“Yes,” Connor replied solemnly. “He’s waiting to talk to you.”

You see, I hadn’t even heard the door bell ring, nor the door open.  So not only was I surprised to be receiving this report (a day later, I might point out), but I was also surprised to know he was waiting in the front hall.  I had no time to prepare, what was I going to say?

Will you be surprised to know I did not apologize?  No, of course you won’t.  You’ve been here before.

All 3 of my kids, plus Sam’s friend Mary, were in the front hall.  I took a deep breath and started, “Hi Caleb, Connor’s filled me in and well, in our house, we don’t police language.”

“Oh…” he responded, eyes bugging out of his head and his chin pulled back (you know that look of judgement and shock all at once?  Yeah, that one).
“We talk about how these are really just words.  Our feeling is the more forbidden you make them the more likely they are to use them.”
“Well, it’s just that last year we took Mary off the bus because the language was getting out of hand.  Mary was using it, Sam was using it and they were learning it on the bus.”

I dug in here.  “No, not the case.  Sam is learning the language here.  At home, we use these words and phrases.  Like I said, they are just words and we do not police them.”

“Well.” He was ruffled at this. “We do in our house.”

“Okay.  We make a point to talk about how there are appropriate places for this type of language, and that it’s important to respect the rules of where you are.  So Sam,” I called, looking at him “Now you know that you are not to use those words at Mary’s house.  And if you do, there will be consequences.  Are we clear?”
“Yep,” he happily responded!

I turned back to Caleb and smiled.  He was backing out the door so fast I thought he was falling. “I’ll be back at 5 for Mary,” he said as he ran down our driveway.

I was left on my own, pondering the discussion.  What is the big deal, anyway?  It’s not the 1950’s anymore, and most of us who are parenting now were born well after the 50’s.  Aren’t we freer?  Many parents regularly allow their kids to watch violent cartoons.  Mary in particular has a fondness for underground Japanese Anime series’ and she my friends, is 6.  Her uncle Caleb is 27 and so should be more liberal than we are, being more than 10 years younger than us.  And yet…

Am I wrong?  Should we be policing our kid’s language, saving them from the plague of profanity?  I can’t bring myself to that.  Too many things are in the “when you’re older” box, and I am loathe to put language in there.  I think there is a far greater value in helping their formative minds understand there are times when using these words are ok, and there are times when it’s not.  Like with your Nanny, or your Grampa.  They don’t appreciate that language, and you will offend them.

And then I go back to this idea here.  I want my kids to feel comfortable talking to me as they grow.  I want them to see me as a reasonable adult, who they can come to with big problems, and know that I will help them as best as I can, with as little judgement as I can muster. When I think back to that friend in high school who was allowed to swear at home, it’s interesting to note too that we all went to her Mom for advice and guidance.  We were comfortable with her; we could talk to her.

Add to that, this is the time when they are already sorting and assessing situations, determining how they will behave.  I think giving them this one other aspect – is it ok to swear here? – to consider and sort is fine.  Responsible even.

But enough about me.  What do you think?

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent

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Posted by on January 19, 2014 in Opinion, Raising Kids


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Perspective & 5AM

You know that feeling you have when you’re with someone you totally love and adore, and they begin to share with you about how they feel inadequate, inferior, unworthy, and generally like the biggest loser you’ll ever meet?  Your eyes grow wide with surprise and shock, your jaw opens, and your lips form words like, “Are you kidding me?”  And, “You are so totally awesome – how can you not see that?”

I’m sure you know it.  It’s happened to all of us a few times in our lives.  And likely, you’ve been the one confessing your loser-dom to someone who thinks you’re the best thing in the whole universe, and they’ve said as much in response.

I think we all go through this, to some extent.  Life can be harsh; we take our experiences and we distill them into irrefutable facts about our selves, and thus: low self esteem is born.  I have spent the better part of the last15-20 years sorting through all of these so called truths and discarding those that do not serve me.  It’s a process full of pain sometimes, relief, fear… and ultimately wonder.  I thought I had it all sorted.  I faced my deamons and beat them.  I re-wrote my truths, and life was good.

Then I became a mother.

Turns out, I had only resolved part of my issues.  Who knew?!  Certainly not me.  And you can be sure too that the past 9 and a half years as been full of early mornings, late nights, wet beds, midnight feedings, middle of the night fevers and so on that I really haven’t had a chance to delve deeply into these newly surfaced “truths”.  It was only after coffee with a friend a few weeks ago that I decided that it was time to bring my issues to the forefront.

This is a fairly new friend, although I’ve known her for about 5 years now.  We’ve just started making the time to get to know each other, and as you do, you share your foundational stuff.  You know, what your job was before kids, how you met your husband, and so on.  It was during this “discovery” shall we call it, that I said, “I never wanted kids.”

She was shocked!  Her eyes were wide, her jaw hung open and she said, “Wow!  But you’re so good at it!”

Then it was my turn to be shocked.

Really, I know this parenting thing is tough.  I look at all the people around me with kids and I know that they are doing the best that they can for them.  I do not judge them, I accept them where they are, and honour their struggles.  I do not afford myself this compassion, however.

In fact, it’s been coming to light for sometime that I don’t afford myself much compassion at all.  I see my faults in glaring harsh light.  I count my failings continually.  I am fretting over the current interaction I’m having, hoping that the person I’m engaging with won’t run screaming when they realize it’s me they’re talking to.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “You’ve got to get out of your own way”?  I have heard it a few times, and used it myself in fact.  Recently, others whom I respect and admire have said it to me, and so I’ve been pondering what it means and how to take it’s advice.  I asked a few people what it meant, and what came back usually was something about making excuses.  I asked MOMD – since wordsmithing is his craft – and he had an explanation that really resonated for me.  He said, “Having the awareness of the patterns and behaviours that prevent you from success or attaining your goals.”

Huh…  The key for me in that is “awareness”.  Have an awareness of your patterns and behaviours.

And so: I began to think on all of the instruction and teachings I’ve received over the past 5 or so years.  What do successful people do?  What patterns serve them to achieve their highest and best?  How do people who feel good about themselves behave?

How do I tell myself that I love me?

Which brings us to the 5AM Club.

The jist is that successful people get up early.  They spend the first hour or so of their day focussed solely on serving and nurturing themselves.  No emails, no texts, no phone calls.  No reports, no letters, no research.  They exercise.  They meditate or pray.  They read for their own personal growth and development.  They spend the first hour of their day caring for them.

Two days ago, I joined the club.  They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit, and I am committed to this for that long at least.  When I was practicing yoga yesterday at 5:20AM, I had a salient realization: I had nothing to think about but me.  I knew where the kids were (sleeping), they didn’t need anything from me, no one was expecting to see me for another hour at least, and I could set it all down and care for me.

Sure – I’ve taken a day here, a day there, to relax and rejuvenate.  But really: over the past…  really 10 years, I haven’t had a moment where I was not concerned with someone else’s needs, someone else’s expectations of me.  In that moment, that unexpected moment at 5:20 in the morning, I drew in a deep breath and cared for me.

In doing so, I am telling myself that I love me.  I am supporting myself so that I can stretch, reach and achieve my personal highest and best.  I am inspiring me to greatness.

And that….  that is awesome.

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Posted by on October 23, 2013 in Oversharing, Self Love, Sickness/Wellness


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Organic Moments

The experts tell us the best way to address sensitive topics with your children is through organic moments.  Meaning, moments that occur naturally.  The idea behind it is that the discussion is child-led, and only goes as far as they want it to go.  It begins naturally for them, and it ends naturally for them.

As you may know from your visits here before, I am pregnant.  We are at 27 weeks today – which is about 6 months along.  I subscribe to a weekly newsletter from (I know I’m Canadian and that there’s one on the Canadian site; the UK one is just more my style is all.  Less US-focused.  Anyway.) and every Saturday morning I get an email talking about what my baby will be starting to do this week, and how it’s developing.  There is always a link to a 3-D video that describes the development as well.  Today I watched where our baby is at, along with Connor, my newly-turned 8 year old.  He was just as excited as I was, and when we were through watching it, he asked to see his favourite baby-developing video.  You may have seen it yourself when it was making the rounds on facebook, about a year ago.  He was fascinated by it then as he thought about this is how he started, and how Sam started and wow – look at that!  Over the course of a week, we watched it probably 50 times.  He loves the song the videographer used too.

So anyway – back to today.  He wants to watch it again, and so we do.  He comments throughout it, confirming what he remembers from when we watched it before, and making logical leaps that he did not make before.  Things like, “Oh – so the girls have the eggs, and I guess that means that the little swimmer thingys come from the boys.  Right?”  I confirmed that this assertion was correct, and again reminded him that those swimmers are called sperm.  It is always around this point that I get nervous that he will take the discussion to the next point.  He never has, and for that I’ve been grateful.

Now, MOMD and I have talked before about when we should have “the talk” with Connor, since he’s approaching the age where his body may begin to start to change.  And as the experts have advised, we have always decided to wait for the “organic moments”.  Is this passive on our part?  Trying to avoid what will be a potentially awkward discussion?  Maybe; although I have to say that I don’t think it is.

But again, I am side-tracked.  After we watched the video again, we got dressed and headed out to the grocery store.  While we’re driving, Connor says to me, “So Mom – how do the little swimmers get into the Mom, and to her egg?”


“Well, that’s a big question isn’t it?”  I looked at MOMD and his eyes were bulging.  We were both trying to play it cool, recognizing that indeed this was a totally organic moment.  I followed the advice of my awesome Obstetrician (who says that when her kids ask big questions she always says “Well, what do you think?” because often they aren’t asking the question she thinks they are.  I’ve done this before and it’s worked like magic) and responded, “What do you think, Connor?”  This time though, there was no shirking the conversation.  He said, “I really don’t know Mom.”

I took a deep breath, looked to MOMD for his acquiescence, and said, “Okay buddy I need to ask you: Do you really want to have this conversation?”  At this moment I was kinda hoping that he would say yes.  Because I figure, we’re at the gateway here, he’s old enough to know basics, and this is the right environment for the conversation to be light, fun and informative.  Blessedly, he said, “Yes.  I’m sure.”

And so I told him.  Very basic and very simply.  I started out saying, “Well…  it’s messy.  Because the swimmers – the sperm – are in your penis.”  His jaw hit his chest!  He was incredulous… “Eww!!” *beat* “That would be messy!”

“So, how do they get into the girl?”

“Have you ever heard the word, ‘sex’,” I asked?
“I’ve heard it in a word before; it’s part of ‘sexy.'”
“That’s right it is.  Sex is how the sperm get to the egg.”
“But how?” Oh, he’s persistent!
“Well, usually when 2 people are in love they decide to have sex.  And you know, you’re usually in love because you need to be naked for sex, and you really don’t want to show your private spots to just anyone, do you?”  He shook his head violently from side to side, smirking the whole time.  “And when you have sex, the boy puts his penis into the girl’s vagina, and that’s how the sperm get to the egg.”

And there ended the discussion.  We did talk about how boys are born with the parts to make the swimmers, and how girls are born with their eggs, but that it takes time before your body is ready to release the sperm and eggs.  So it’s not like he thinks he can become a dad now or anything.

It was a huge moment for me… and for MOMD.  We keep having these little conversations to reassure each other (Ok, I ask him a question, and he reassures me) that the conversation was appropriate and reasonable and comfortable, and that the whole world did not changed on the way to the grocery store.

Because man: now my kid knows about sex.

Pass me a drink.


Posted by on April 14, 2012 in Family, Raising Kids


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