By Gina McClain
“Do you understand what you just read?”
Over Christmas break I was enjoying my favorite past time. . .reading. At one point as I read, my daughter sat down next to me and was quickly engrossed in my book. We read the historical fiction in tandem, turning the pages only when the other was ready. But at one point we came across a complicated moment between two of the characters.
Though the situation was innocent, at 11 years old, her young mind had not encountered the scenario that unfolded in this story. It was a little too ‘mature’ for her age. You could say they were discussing a topic best had behind closed doors. And in the story. . .they were behind closed doors.
My daughter is an avid reader. And at this point in her life, I’m not able to preview every book she reads. And it’s clear that even in my presence, she will be exposed to situations that shape how she views things like love, marriage and intimacy.
As her exposure to the cultural norms increases, it’s my job to shift from being her filter to helping her create her own.
And honesty is my best tool.
When we read that passage in the story, I asked her, “Do you understand what you just read?”
She simply replied, “Not really.”
What held every opportunity for awkwardness became a moment ripe with connection. Knowing that honesty keeps a relationship authentic, I’d decided a long time ago that I would foster an honest relationship with my kids. I’d resolved to lean into conversations, no matter how awkward, and be a source of clarity rather than ambiguity.
Now don’t get me wrong. Every conversation must be tempered and appropriate to the age or stage of your child. Some details are better left unsaid. But as parents, we can create an environment in our home that fosters honesty by being willing to step into the uncomfortable moments and bring clarity.
It’s my hope that my daughter knows she can come to me for safe inquiry… honest explanation… loving guidance. Have you ever considered how your approach to uncomfortable conversations sets the stage for the next? How your honest response today increases your chances for sincere inquiry later?
Gina McClain is the Children’s Ministry Director at Faith Promise Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. Gina is driven by the idea of equipping parents for the journey of teaching their kids how to follow Christ. Based upon her experience as a mom, she identifies with the everyday challenges parents wade through. Gina and her husband, Kyle, have three kids, Keegan, Josie and Connor.