Answering Teens Tough Questions

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Coping with your teenager Teen aggression and arguments Worried about your teenager? Talking to children about feelings Talking to your teenager.

If it feels right it must be right ... right?

Unhelpful thinking Sleep problems Anxiety control Depression Low confidence. Listen to all the mental wellbeing audio guides. Try not to assume you know what's wrong Do not assume that you know what's wrong. Be clear you want to help If you suspect your child is using drugs or drinking excessively, be gentle but direct. Be honest yourself Teenagers will criticise you if you do not follow your own advice. For example, "How does smoking weed make you feel the next day? Remind them of what they're good at and what you like about them.

This will give them confidence in other areas of their lives. Information is empowering. Help them think of ways they can respond and cope. Pick your battles with your teenager If they only ever hear nagging from you, they'll stop listening. Try not to react to angry outbursts Teenagers often hit out at the people they most love and trust, not because they hate you, but because they feel confused.

Help your teenager feel safe Teenagers often worry that telling an adult will just make things worse. Help build up their confidence by reassuring them that you'll face the problem together. I guarantee it.

Be thinking now about how you're going to answer and how you can use your personal experiences as a teaching tool. Before you disclose anything, figure out why your child is asking the question. There may be a particular problem your child is struggling with, so you want to respond accordingly. In my son's case, I discovered that a friend's parents had recently divorced and an affair may have been a cause. No wonder he was asking me questions about infidelity.

While you don't have to tell them everything about a personal indiscretion, you need to be honest about what you do tell your children. Kids, especially teenagers, have a low tolerance for hypocrisy. If they discover you weren't straight with them, it may be a long time before they'll be willing to trust you again. If you disclose a history of drug use or underage drinking and smoking, tell your kids that you made a big mistake, one that you don't want them to repeat.

I don't buy the argument that telling kids about our past transgressions will provide them with a justification for their own misconduct. We shouldn't be afraid to show our children that we're not perfect -- they know that already! Otherwise, if we send an embellished message that we've never made mistakes, aren't we setting an unrealistic bar for them to clear?

It's better to engage in a frank discussion with our kids about the reasons for our past misbehavior e. Finally, look at awkward questions as an opportunity. If your kids are asking questions, it means they're looking for answers and trust your judgment. One of my clients was recently on her way into the house laden with packages when one of her children surprised her by offering to help.

Simi Yellen has been positively transforming homes for over a decade through her teleconference parenting classes and private consultations. Barbara Bensoussan has worked as a university instructor and a social worker, and currently writes for Jewish newspapers and magazines.

"Why is alcohol bad for me?"

As Orthodox Jewish parents, we strive to convey our commitment to halachah to our children. Imparting these values requires time and thought, and we therefore send them to schools which offer a thorough Jewish education. However, in the area of sexuality and relationships, about which most children—and particularly adolescents—show curiosity and interest, and about which the halachah has clear opinions, we, and the schools we send our children to, often choose to be silent. This silence itself communicates an important message. Not talking about sexuality, especially when it is so much talked about in movies and the media, gives an implicit message that Judaism is at the very least uncomfortable about sexuality or, worse, has nothing positive to say on the subject.


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In addition, there is no avoiding the automatic association that when parents refuse to talk about these topics, children perforce conclude that sexuality is bad and shameful. In order for our children to view a Torah lifestyle as being relevant to them, they must experience Torah as addressing issues that concern them.

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Talking about sexuality and relationships from a halachic perspective helps our children appreciate the wisdom and relevance of Judaism to these significant aspects of their lives, and by extension, to their lives in general. Why Do We Hesitate? We often fail to educate in these areas because we feel ill-equipped to approach them properly. The topics of sexuality and intimacy can be complex and awkward. However, if we do not provide a thoughtful, open, honest forum for discussion, our children will look for information and a value system elsewhere.

When considering what to tell your children about sexuality, it is helpful to consider the following factors:. Is it likely that they are more aware than your child?

Does your child watch television? And if so, what shows does he or she watch, and how often? Are there filters on the computer he uses, or is your child able to watch and explore whatever he chooses? Is your child an avid reader? If so, what is she reading? All of these factors will impact on how much access they may already have to information and can factor into your decision about what you would like to share with your child.

Will your child be able to respond to your conversation maturely, or will he become embarrassed? If you consider your child not so mature but she has asked questions, it is especially important to answer thoughtfully, perhaps beginning with partial information and moving on to more detailed information only if the child continues to question.

Remember to find out what your child already knows and what she is really asking. Openness in the Family Each family has its own rules about what can and cannot be discussed.

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If your family speaks openly and easily about personal matters, the question of how to initiate a conversation about sexuality will not be too difficult. In families in which there are rarely conversations about personal matters, parents might need to be more thoughtful as to how, and at what age, they will want to broach these topics.

Remember that your comfort level is also important here; try to ensure your own comfort, if at all possible. Norms of the Community While you may choose to be really open about sexuality in your family, or quite the opposite, very hesitant to speak about sexuality, be aware that your children spend much of their lives outside of the home.

Be cognizant of the norms in your community; recognize that they constantly change as norms in secular society become more permissive. Children often walk around with partial information pieced together from comments by friends, fragments of television shows or parts of conversations they have overheard. If that might be the case for your child, the sooner you start a conversation with him in these areas, the sooner he will come to understand that you are, in fact, a very good resource for honest, accurate information about sexuality. Sometimes we invoke the idea of tzeniut , modesty, and use it as an excuse to avoid discussing such topics with our children.

Openness and honesty are not compromised by sensitivity to tzeniut , properly understood. It is important that we not delude ourselves. For anyone who lives in a community which allows some modernity, it will be difficult—if not impossible—to protect children from at least partial knowledge of sexuality. Whether through friends or the Internet, television shows or books, they will gradually develop ideas about sexuality.

Therefore, the onus is on us to speak to our children in the manner and in the context of our choosing.