A Brave Presence

I mentioned bravery in the last post. I think kids are really smart and observant about your life and their own. They can ask hard questions about the sensitive or secretive or scary things. You have to be brave to listen to their questions about drugs, sex, death, divorce, cancer, failure, faith, monsters, mistakes, bad luck, bad choices, bad people. It is tempting to dismiss them with a “you’re too young” or “none of your concern”, or “I don’t know”, but they look to you to help them understand. If they are asking, they understand something and it is up to you to help them figure the rest of it out.

Take a deep breath, hem and haw a moment if necessary, and then ask them what they mean. We often react too fast out of our own fears and miss their point if we start talking too much. Give them a moment to clarify their thoughts. Then you have time to register what they are asking, so you can answer the actual question. Especially about the difficult topics, kids want a truthful answer they can understand. They don’t need every detail or caveat, but they need to believe you. If you need more time to think about it, that is OK. Telling the truth can include admitting you don’t know what to say right now, but you will get back to them.