Ultimate Guide to Parenting Communication

Having Important Talks with Kids

The truth is that when it comes to discussing important issues with their kids, parents don't do it nearly enough. The key to having any important talk with your child -- whether it's about puberty, sex, drugs or alcohol -- is to have it before your child is in a situation in which he or she needs to make a decision. And the bottom line is that many children are having these experiences way earlier than their parents think [source: Oprah.com].

Knowledge is power. And it's your responsibility as a parent to give your children the information they need to guide them into adulthood. No one is saying that having the talk about the birds and the bees with your kids is easy, but if you want your child to make safe and healthy choices, it's time to start talking.

An important part of talking with your kids is to make them feel as safe and comfortable as possible. Not only do you want to give them the information they need, but you also want to let them know that they can ask you any questions they want -- and that they can continue the conversation with you at any time. Staying calm and keeping the conversation casual is crucial. If it sounds like you're giving a lecture, your child may hesitate to come to you in the future [source: Oprah.com].

If you find yourself struggling to have an important talk with your child, do some research and practice what you want to say beforehand. Make sure that you have all the right information to discuss a topic, and practice some ways to initiate the conversation and the key points you want to address [source: KidsHealth].

Whether you're ready to talk with them or not, your child will be faced with some difficult experiences as they grow and develop. They're going to get their information somewhere -- and it might as well be accurate information from the person who loves and cares about them the most.

For more information, see the resources on the following page.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Family Education. "How to Be More Consistent with Your Children." Pearson Education, Inc. (Jan. 12, 2010) http://life.familyeducation.com/behavioral-problems/punishment/42963.html?page=1
  • Fetsch, R.J. and B. Jacobson. "Manage Anger Through Family Meetings." Colorado State University Extension. 2009. (Jan. 13, 2010)http://www.ext.colostate.edu/PUBS/consumer/10249.html
  • KidsHealth. "Disciplining Your Child." (Jan. 12, 2010)http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/behavior/discipline.html
  • KidsHealth. "Talking to Your Child About Puberty." (Jan. 13, 2010) http://kidshealth.org/parent/growth/growing/talk_about_puberty.html#
  • Mental Health America. "Back to School: Parent-Child Communication." 2010. (Jan. 13, 2010) http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/information/get-info/children-s-mental-health/back-to-school-fast-facts-parent-child-communication/back-to-school-parent-child-communication
  • Oprah.com. "How to Talk to Your Kids About Sex." CNN.com. May 8, 2009. (Jan. 13, 2010)http://www.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/personal/05/08/o.having.the.sex.talk/index.html
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "Behave Yourself!" 2001. (Jan. 12, 2010)http://family.samhsa.gov/set/behave.aspx
  • Zolten, Kristin M.A. and Nicholas Long, PhD. "Family Meetings." Center for Effective Parenting. 1997. (Jan. 12, 2010)http://www.parenting-ed.org/handout3/Discipline%20and%20Intervention%20Strategies/family_meetings.htm