The other day my seven-year-old asked me which I thought was worse for you: smoking cigarettes or eating drugs. I almost laughed out loud but I stopped myself and only allowed a giggle because my girl was dead serious. I had to think about what she was asking. She knows cigarettes are horrible habit and extremely bad for your health. When she sees someone smoking a cigarette she’s quick to point it out to me. “Ewww, look mom! That guy’s smoking. Why would he do that? Doesn’t he know it could make him sick?” To which I usually answer, “I know, right? Gross.” So I’m assuming that she knows that drugs are bad too but I can’t imagine she has any sort of picture of what type of drugs a person might “eat.” I’m happy to have her stay uniformed for now.
I have a friend who discusses everything with her kids. Almost no topic is off limits. The parents will carefully explain everything from the Taliban to Tyler Perry’s sexual orientation with equanimity. These friends feel that shielding kids from unpleasant information is not helpful to them and that given the right context kids can handle even the most distasteful subject matter. Uh uh. I’m not saying my friends are wrong but it’s definitely not the right approach for me.
I’m not a parenting expert, I just go with the way I feel and I don’t comfortable with my kids being exposed to certain concepts —concepts like murder. Elby’s only seven. I’m sorry but I don’t want her worrying about me dying of a violent crime right now. I worried about stuff like that enough for the both of us growing up.
So here are a few topics that I avoid and the reasons why:
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Child Predators 1 of 5Elby understands the whole concept of "stranger danger" but she is blissfully unaware of what a stranger could possibly want with her besides NO GOOD. And she will remain blissfully unaware because like I said before, I'm aware enough for the both of us and then some. Yes Elby knows that her privates are private and what a "bad touch" is but other than that we don't dwell. If there was a story on the news I would 100% make sure she doesn't hear it.
What Is Sexy 2 of 5Lately I've been letting the girls watch Dance Moms which is probably one of the least appropriate things they could watch considering I don't want them to emulate acting "sexy." The thing is, Elby loves watching the kids dance and she thinks it's sort of funny how insane everyone acts. So we discuss the fact that adults normally don't behave that way and how it's a TV show and that explanation seems to work. The problem is that all these girls do sort of sexy dancing and I don't want the kids to understand why they dress that way and what it means. So I just avoid it and we focus on how amazing it is that an eight year old can do a front aerial.
Fat 3 of 5One day when Elby was five or six she told me that she didn't want to ever drink soda because it would make her fat. I was horrified. It turned out that at a camp she went to for a few days there was a fitness instructor who told the kids that too much salt can give you a heart attack along with the dire warning about soda. Why would you possibly tell a five-year-old that? I don't need my daughter worried about getting fat! Or just as bad, giving her the notion that someone who's overweight is like that from drinking too much soda —that it's their own fault. It's up to us to give our kids balanced meals and make sure they get exercise but the last thing I need is my five-year-old worried about getting a gut.
Alcoholism 4 of 5: I haven't had a drink in going on three years. But Elby was only four when I quit and in my opinion all she needs to know is that I'm allergic to alcohol. Just like some of her friends can't have peanuts, mommy's body can't tolerate alcohol. I know people who explain the whole damn thing to their kids but I don't think it's a necessary burden.
How Babies Are Made 5 of 5Not ready for this one. I don't remember when I actual understood that a penis goes into a vagina but it had to have been a little older than seven. Shoot. I hope I don't have to do this one anytime soon. Thoughts?
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