Disclaimer: The content of this article is not intended to be a substitute for psychotherapy, nor does it constitute a client/therapist relationship. If you are in crisis, call the crisis hotline at 600-273-TALK.
The Sex Talk
What are the best resources for talking to your kids about sex? I want my kids to come to us with these questions rather than searching online for answers but I want to be prepared to both answer questions and initiate discussions if needed.
A: I appreciate that you are engaging this topic because it is so important! I think the best resource you have is yourself and your relationship with your kids! You being willing to talk to them and being a safe place where they can ask ANYTHING without judgment (watching your facial expressions as to not appear shocked or appalled) is the absolute best thing for you to do!
I suggest starting very early, talking about the proper names for their genitalia and basics about how babies are born (a part of mommy and a part of daddy come together to make a baby). When you begin the conversation at an early age, it sets the stage for them to feel comfortable talking to you about it and initiating conversation. We would always say that these things are “private” (in a whisper) and only to be talked about at home with Mom and Dad. That was to try and prevent them from educating their friends at school! This was also an opportunity to educate them on the safety of their bodies and how no one had permission to touch their private parts unless they were helping examine them (like a doctor with permission) or if mom or dad needed to help them with something.
The best thing you can do is to bring up basic things and then be available, without negative reactions, for them to ask you questions. If you can accomplish this, you will set the stage for them to be open with you for a long, long time. I would periodically tell them more and more information as they age as well. For instance, start talking about the beauty of their bodies changing (what happens during puberty) and what can they expect to happen in their bodies around age 8 or 9 in boys and maybe even earlier for girls. I encourage you to always bring this up as an exciting and wonderful part of their lives. This perspective helps kids feel that the changes in their bodies are good and something to be celebrated.
A resource we used had a Christian perspective, so keep that in mind when considering. It is called “Story of Me” by Stan and Brenna Jones. It was a series and was a book we could read aloud that was age-appropriate.
I am also aware of the sexual and gender minorities that might exist in our homes. I think if you are experiencing that in your home, you may need more specific professional advice on how to best support your young one than a quick answer on this forum. I understand that a traditional perspective may not be sufficient in all situations, so please seek professional advice if that is your situation.
How To Balance it All
I’m struggling to understand the balance of doing housework while my 1 year old is around vs dedicated playtime with him. I feel like I keep swinging in the extremes of all time just playing with him/ focused or really trying to get house stuff done. I didn’t have a mom model for this and it’s been hard.
A: My heart goes out to you because you are in the beginning stages of motherhood and, girl, that mom guilt is real! We all struggle with this periodically throughout motherhood. I start with that to say that the fact that you are even worrying about this makes me know that you are doing a good job! Take a minute to let that sink in. You are enough. You are an abundant blessing to that little one. You are exactly what they need.
Now for your question! The greatest gift we can give our kids at this age is our attention and affection. These two things promote healthy attachment in young children which will positively impact them for years to come. This doesn’t mean that young children need our attention 24 hours a day! A tip that is helpful for me is: do the right thing at the right time. All that means is, know what your values are and what is important to you for this day or this season or this week, and prioritize that. You may have company coming over and for that day, your value is having your house presentable because it makes you feel more at ease and ready to host. Well, that day, cleaning a little more and playing a little less lines up with your values. Doing the right thing at the right time can help you feel guilt-free about what you are choosing to do at any given moment. For me personally, I know that connection is what provides the attachment needs of my kids, so prioritizing that over other responsibilities has always been easier for me because I know I am making decisions according to my values.
What do you value? What is the right thing for today? You are an abundant blessing to that little one!
Do I have Postpartum Depression?
Do you have tips for differentiating PPD with first time mom stress/overwhelm?
A: Thank you for your question. A counselor in my practice (Taylor Garcia, LPC), who specializes in perinatal mental health, helped me with this question. One thing she says to consider when answering this question is time frame. If you are feeling sadness or irritability for more than two weeks, it is probably time to reach out to a professional. There are resources such as postpartum.net that are helpful as well. Here are the symptoms for PPD they mention on their website:
-Feelings of anger or irritability
-Lack of interest in the baby
-Appetite and sleep disturbance
-Crying and sadness
-Feelings of guilt, shame or hopelessness
-Loss of interest, joy or pleasure in things you used to enjoy
-Possible thoughts of harming the baby or yourself
Also, consider that it really does not matter what literature is published or what your technical symptoms are. If you are feeling overwhelmed, not yourself, extremely sad or anxious, do what is right for yourself and go talk to someone. If you seek professional counseling, they will be able to direct you to get medication if they think your symptoms are severe enough. Don’t deny yourself the care you need while wondering if your symptoms are severe enough.
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