How to Address Tough Topics

Life is not easy.  Whether it is at home or at work, we often have to address difficult situations.  At work, as a manager, I sometimes struggle with how to approach having that “not so fun” conversation with members of my team.  But what is even more difficult is having those conversations with your kids. How much should you shelter them? How should you begin the conversation?  How do you avoid scaring them? How do you make sure they understand?

This morning, we received an email in regards to the recent tragedy in Pittsburgh. It brought up the bigger conversation about how to address all tough topics with our kiddos.  Whether it is a death in the family, a situation at school, or an event like this in the news, as parents we are faced with the struggle of how to address these things with our children.  As we try to raise them to become well-rounded, educated individuals, we also want to protect them from all evil.

But today, Rabbi Phyllis A. Sommer brought up what I thought was a great point to share.  She said, “As I always say when addressing big topics with children, an important element is to only answer the questions that they ask.  Sometimes we parents will want to keep talking, to answer all the “un-asked” questions. Our children are processing these big ideas, and often they will need to talk about them in small doses, with only a little information at a time.  Listen carefully to what children ask, and do your best to only answer the questions posed, rather than the question that you think they’re asking.”

I thought this was so powerful.  It truly stopped me in my tracks this morning.  And in life, whether having that tough conversation at work or explaining something serious to my three year old, I will take this advice to heart and try to apply it as best as I can.

Like I said, life isn’t easy.  There is a lot of hard stuff for us to deal with—as humans, as women, as working moms, as moms.  But as Rabbi Sommer also said, we are all in this together!