Talk With Your Kids

Menstuff® has compiled information and booklets on the issue of Talking to Your Kids About Tough Issues.

Whom do You want Your Children to Learn about Sex From?
Talking With Your Kids About Tough Issues Special Focus on Dads

Talk with Your Kids About Tough Issues


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Whom do You want Your Children to Learn about Sex From?


Here's a list. For your own information: (1) Rank the list with 10 being the most important teacher. (2) Rank the list with 10 being who you think is currently teaching them the most about sex. And, if you think they don't already know quite a bit about sex, whether it is correct information or not, think again!

Who Should Teach Your Children About Sex?

(1)

(2)

You

.

.

Your Significant Other

.

.

School

.

.

Church

.

.

Internet

.

.

Friends

.

.

Potential lover

.

.

Community clinic/Planned Parenthood

.

.

Home for Unwed Mothers

.

.

Juvenile Hall

.

.

The Most Important Thing You Can Do For Your Children Is To Be Their Dad


Parents agree that open parent/child communication is invaluable when raising children. Yet, when kids sit down and talk to parents about tough issues like violence, sex, alcohol/drugs, and HIV/AIDS, they are more often sitting with mom than with dad. This may have more to do with fathers missing conversation opportunities or avoiding certain topics than with a lack of connection between dads and their kids. In an effort to separate fact from fiction, shed some light on father-child communication, and provide some tools for initiating conversations, the Talking with Kids about Tough Issues Campaign (a national effort to support parents by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Children Now) has teamed up with the National Fatherhood Initiative and ESPN to create this special focus on Dads.

The Kaiser Family Foundation and Children Now conducted a national survey of 10 to 15 year olds and parents of 10 to 15 year olds in the fall of 1998 to find out whether kids and parents were talking about tough issues like violence, sex, alcohol/drugs and HIV/AIDS. Below are some of the survey findings regarding dads.

How Strong Are Dads' Influence, and Are Kids Comfortable Talking to Dad about Tough Issues?

According to parents, fathers have a strong influence on how their kids think about these issues, albeit slightly less than the influence of mothers. Kids say dads are a good, credible source of information on difficult issues. A majority of kids ages 10 to 15 feel that their father has a good understanding of issues such as AIDS, violence, sex and alcohol, and rank their mothers' understanding just slightly higher than their fathers.

While kids ages 10 to 15 say they are generally more able to talk to mom than dad when something is bothering them, many report they are equally comfortable talking with either parent about certain tough issues. Over a third say they are equally comfortable talking to mom or dad about AIDS, alcohol and drugs, and about how to handle violent situations. Regarding the issue of violence, many kids prefer to talk to their dads.

On the topic of sex, more kids 10-15 prefer to talk to mom than dad. However, it is interesting to note that boys answer differently than girls on this issue. Regarding sex-related topics, boys are fairly evenly divided among those who are most comfortable with mom, dad or either parents, while girls are much less comfortable talking with dad about these issues.

Do Dads Talk with Their Kids about Tough Issues?

Fathers today are talking with their kids about some tough issues but are avoiding others; also, they still lag behind mom in dealing with most of these issues. Most fathers (eight in ten) report talking with their kids about a range of tough issues, including the basics about drugs, alcohol and violence. However, only about half of dads are talking to their kids about the basics of reproduction and less than half are talking about AIDS, relationships, when to become sexually active and how to prevent pregnancy and STDs. Furthermore, topics like what to do if someone brings a gun to school, how to handle peer pressure to use drugs or alcohol, and what AIDS is and how its spread are only being discussed by 1 in 5 dads. So there is a lot of room for dads to make themselves open to more topics and start talking about them with their kids.

The good news is that dads who are having conversations are proactively initiating them, rather than waiting for their kids to come to them first. If kids sense their parents are apprehensive about discussing certain topics, they will be less likely to speak openly and honestly. Parents who initiate tough conversations themselves show they aren't shy and are willing to talk frankly with their kids.

When Dads Do Talk, Kids Listen and Learn

Kids are glad to hear from their parents. Among those who have had conversations with dad, either alone or with their other parent, 9 out of 10 reported having a positive experience. They felt they received good ideas and that the conversations were helpful overall. Even during talks about sex, where kids said dad was less comfortable having the conversation, kids still thought talking was helpful.

Talk Opportunities

With daughters, dads should look to everyday talk opportunities, rather than wait for an incident at home or in the community, to prompt a conversation. Open communication about tough issues like violence, drugs and alcohol can help create an environment in which their daughter feels more comfortable talking with them, even about sex. And, if she isn't comfortable talking with dad about sex in particular, the conversations will likely increase her comfort with going to dad when faced with other tough issues.

With sons, dads need to take advantage of the fact their sons are comfortable talking with them about all issues, including sex. Taking advantage of everyday talk opportunities like car rides, a TV show or a homework assignment will create time to delve beyond the basics into the issues on which their sons wish to learn more.

As you can see, kids definitely want more information from their parents!

Kids Need to Know More
(1) Percent of Kids 10-12 wanting more information, (2) Percent of parents who never talk about it

Topic
(1)
(2)

How to handle potentially violent situations

50%

15%

How to know when you are ready to have sex

43
50

How to handle peer pressure to use drugs/alcohol

40
10

How to protect against AIDS/STDs

50
40

What to do if someone brings a gun to school

50
21

How to prevent pregnancy and STDs

38
62

What STDs are

47
38

How to handle pressure to have sex

44
46

How alcohol/drugs might affect decisions to have sex

43
46

What AIDS is

48
22

What kinds of birth control are available

32
68

Homosexuality

28
32

How girls get pregnant

25
27

Drinking and driving

27
18
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation/Children Now Talking With Kids About Tough Issues, A National Survey of Parents and Kids conducted September 15-October 3, 1998

Kids Still Need to Know More
(1) Percent of Kids 13-15 wanting more information, (2) Percent of parents who never talk about it

Topic
(1)
(2)

How to handle potentially violent situations

44%

16%

How to know when you are ready to have sex

43
26

How to handle peer pressure to use drugs/alcohol

42
7

How to protect against AIDS/STDs

42
15

What to do if someone brings a gun to school

41
23

How to prevent pregnancy and STDs

40
29

What STDs are

39
12

How to handle pressure to have sex

39
19

How alcohol/drugs might affect decisions to have sex

39
24

What AIDS is

37
11

What kinds of birth control are available

30
37

Homosexuality

19
21

How girls get pregnant

19
14

Drinking and driving

18
11
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation/Children Now Talking With Kids About Tough Issues, A National Survey of Parents and Kids conducted September 15-October 3, 1998

10 Ways to be a Better Dad: Ten Things Every Father Needs to Know ... And Do!


Spend Time With Your Children

How a father spends his time tells his children what's important to him. If you always seem too busy for your children, they will feel neglected no matter what you say. Treasuring children often means sacrificing other things, but it is essential to spend time with your children. Kids grow up so quickly. Missed opportunities are lost forever.

Earn The Right To Be Heard

All too often the only time a father speaks to his children is when they have done something wrong. That's why so many children cringe when their mother says, "Your father wants to talk with you." Begin talking with your kids when they are very young so that difficult subjects will be easier to handle as they get older. Take time and listen to their ideas and problems.

Discipline With Love

All children need guidance and discipline, not as punishment, but to set reasonable limits. Remind your children of the consequences of their actions and provide meaningful rewards for desirable behavior. Fathers who discipline in a calm and fair manner show love for their children.

Be a Role Model

Fathers are role models to their kids, whether they realize it or not. A girl who spends time with a loving father grows up knowing she deserves to be treated with respect by boys, and what to look for in a husband. Fathers can teach sons what is important in life by demonstrating honesty, humility and responsibility.

Be a Teacher

Too many fathers think teaching is something others do. But a father who teaches his children about right and wrong, and encourages them to do their best, will see his children make good choices. Involved fathers use everyday examples to help their children learn the basic lessons of life.

Eat Together as a Family

Sharing a meal together (breakfast, lunch or dinner) can be an important part of healthy family life. In addition to providing some structure in a busy day, it gives kids the chance to talk about what they are doing and want to do. It is also a good time for fathers to listen and give advice. Most importantly, it is a time for families to be together each day.

Read to Your Children

In a world where television often dominates the lives of children, it is important that fathers make the effort to read to their children. Children learn best by doing and reading, as well as seeing and hearing. Begin reading to your children when they are very young. When they are older, encourage them to read on their own. Instilling your children with a love for reading is one of the best ways to ensure they will have a lifetime of personal and career growth.

Show Affection

Children need the security that comes from knowing they are wanted, accepted and loved by their family. Parents, especially fathers, need to feel both comfortable and willing to hug their children. Showing affection every day is the best way to let your children know that you love them.

Respect Your Children's Mother

One of the best things a father can do for his children is to respect their mother. If you are married, keep your marriage strong and vital. If you're not married, it is still important to respect and support the mother of your children. A father and mother who respect each other, and let their children know it, provide a secure environment for them. When children see their parents respecting each other, they are more likely to feel that they are also accepted and respected.

Realize That A Father's Job Is Never Done

Even after children are grown and ready to leave home, they will still look to their fathers for wisdom and advice. Whether it's continued schooling, a new job or a wedding, fathers continue to play an essential part in the lives of their children as they grow and, perhaps, marry and build their own families.

Source: www.talkingwithkids.org/dads/10ways.html

What It Takes to be a Dad


"Anyone can be a father, but it takes a man to be dad."

You get the idea...

Source: www.talkingwithkids.org/dads/whatittakes.html

The Positive Effects of Father Involvement: Playing an active role in your childrens' lives is more important than you ever could have imagined


"A study using a national probability sample of 1, 250 fathers showed that children whose fathers share meals, spend leisure time with them, or help them with reading or homework do significantly better academically than those children who do not." Source: Cooksey, Elizabeth C. and Michelle M. Fondell. "Spending Time with His Kids: Effects of Family Structure on Fathers' and Children's Lives." Journal of Marriage and the Family 58 (August 1996): 693-707.

"A study using a nationally representative sample of 1, 600 10-13 year olds found that children who shared important ideas with their fathers and who perceived the amount of time they spent with their fathers as excellent had fewer behavior problems. . .than their peers who did not share important ideas or view the amount of time they spent with their fathers as excellent." Source: Williams, Malcolm V. "Reconceptualizing Father Involvement." Masters Thesis Georgetown University, 1997.

". . .for girls, studies link a sense of competence in daughters-especially in mathematics and a sense of femininity-to a close, warm relationship between father and daughter." Source: Ranin, N. and G. Russell. "Increased Father Participation and Child Development Outcomes." Fatherhood and Family Policy. Eds. M.E. Lamb and A. Sagi. Hillside Lawrence Eribaum, 1983: 191-218.

"A study of parent-infant attachment found that fathers who were affectionate, spent time with their children, and overall had a positive attitude were more likely to have securely attached infants." Source: Cox, M.J. et al. "Prediction of Infant-Father and Infant-Mother Attachment." Developmental Psychology 28 (1992): 474-483.

"In a study of 75 toddlers it was found that. . .children whose fathers spent a lot of time with them and who were sensitive to their needs were found to be better adapted than their peers whose fathers were not as involved and were less sensitive." Source: Esterbrooks, M. Ann and Wendy A. Goldberg. "Toddler Development in the Family: Impact of Father Involvement and Parenting Characteristics." Child Development 55 (1984): 740-752.

The Absence of Quality Time:

"Preschool children watch an average of 28 hours of television per week; teenagers watch an average of 21 hours of television per week. By contrast, teenagers spend only 35 minutes per week talking with their fathers." Source: Bennett, William J. The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators: Facts and Figures on the State of American Society. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994. 102-103.

"Almost 20 percent of sixth through twelve graders have not had a good conversation lasting for at least 10 minutes with at least one of their parents in more than a month." Source: Peter L. Benson, The Troubled Journey: A Portrait of 6th-12th Grade Youth (Minneapolis: Search Institute, 1993): 84.

"In a study using 1,250 fathers of school aged children, it was found that fathers eat only half of their breakfasts and dinners together with their children." Source: Cooksey, Elizabeth C. and Michelle M. Fondell. "Spending Time with His Kids: Effects of Family Structure on Fathers' and Children's Lives." Journal of Marriage and the Family 58 (August 1996): 693-707.

Source: www.talkingwithkids.org/dads/activerole.html

*    *    *

Children should be led onto the right paths, not by severity, but by persuasion. - Terence

 



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