• A Wild Lass

What to do when your kid tells you something shocking or something you disagree with

Sometimes parenting is really just a guessing game. We do our best with what we have, and we try really hard. But we don’t always have the answers.


That’s why if your child comes to you and tells you something that completely shocks you, it can be hard to know how to react. We’ve put together some ideas for you, from first instincts to thoughtful reactions you may not have considered.


Photo by Tamara Bellis on Unsplash


*Disclaimer: Some of the links you see may be affiliate links. All that means is if you click through and end up making a purchase, I’ll earn a commission.


If It’s A Crisis, Get Help


Maybe having the first tip be asking for help is not what you were expecting, but if you or your child is in crisis, you probably need backup. Whether it’s a suicide attempt (your child or someone they know), or someone’s in danger, the best way to ensure everyone stays safe is to enlist help from others.


Call the other child’s parents or teachers, whoever is most likely to be able to take away the immediate danger. The person may need to visit a mental health facility or the hospital, or both.


Deal with any wounds or gushing blood first (we like these nose plugs for bloody noses). Once the immediate danger is past, then they can start to think about other treatment plans or long-term solutions.


Give Thanks


Thank your lucky stars they confided in you, no matter how much you hate their choices. If your child came to you and told you the problem, you are already doing better than many other parents. True, they may be seeking attention or talking to you as a last resort, but they viewed you as an option. Rejoice!


Shift Your View


Realize they are a person too, with thoughts, feelings, and their own identity. While this child is your baby, they’re also a complete soul with ideas and big issues that they’re working through. Try to see things from their point of view and understand where they’re coming from.


If you’re having trouble with this, voice it. Tell them you know that this is a big deal and you want to understand what they’re going through. Ask questions that help them explain it to you in more detail.


Be The Adult


Remember you are the parent. Minors are minors because they aren’t truly capable of their own decisions yet. But also it’s your job to teach them to be able to make their own decisions. Every action of yours is culminating in that one goal.


They may not act like adults because they haven’t built those skills yet, but it’s up to you to be an example and take the higher road. Yes, you may be frustrated and angry, but you know how to act when you feel those things.


Stay Calm


Don’t flip out. Don’t freak. Don’t lose your sh**. If you have to, take some deep breaths and zip your lips shut for a minute.


Pay attention to your thought pattern. You’re probably thinking about how you’re feeling and how the situation will affect you, your reputation, and your family life. Refocus, and think about it from a third party view if you can. This will help you be calm in the moment.


Share the Love


Remind them you love them. Say it out loud, and look your child in the eye if they will meet your gaze. Say it with a sincere tone of voice, and make sure you pause long enough to emphasize the sentiment.


This is vital. Don’t forget to say this first, before you go into problem solving mode.


Communicate Clearly


Tell them you’re glad they confided in you and that you want to keep open communication throughout the situation. Ask them if they will agree to continue sharing updates and feelings with you, even if it’s hard or uncomfortable.


Breathe


Take a time out if needed. It’s okay to let your child know that you need a minute to process, and that you’ll be right back. Be sure you don’t just walk away without letting them know where you’re going first. And if you promise to come back, be sure you keep that promise.


Ask Questions


Ask if they’re open to some questions. Let them know that you want to know some more information. While you’re asking questions, be respectful. Use a tone of voice that’s free from judgment and anger. It can be hard to keep your temper, but try to ask questions for information purposes only, not to trap your child into anything.


Get a mediator if necessary. Having someone else there while you’re asking questions can give you another person to help you treat your child with dignity and gentleness.


Get Some Advice


Get some wise counsel before making decisions. If you have a faith tradition, this could involve talking with your pastor or a counselor. If you feel your child or your family may need therapy, seek one out. Remember that you don’t always find a therapist that works for you right away, and if it doesn’t seem to be helping, you may need to find a different person to talk to.


You can also seek counsel and solidarity from your friends. Be careful that you only confide in friends who won’t shame your child or tell their own children about your kids, if they’re all friends. This is your child’s business, and theirs to share.


Doing Your Best


Sometimes--no, scratch that. Most of the time parents have no idea what they’re doing. We can do a great job picking out the most comfortable shoes for work on our feet all day but only do the best we know how when it comes to crisis parenting and hope it’s enough.


Part of doing our best is preparing for what we don’t know is coming. Try to think through the suggestions above so that you have a game plan if something unexpected happens.


The biggest thing to remember is that you love your kids, and they are just trying to figure out how to be their own person. You get to help them grow and become the best version of themselves they can be.


For more on parenting, check out these other posts from A Wild Lass. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Instagram for more bonus content!


The Best Mommy-Daughter Date Ideas


What To Do When Kids Get Antsy on the Plane


Best Travel Hacks for 4 and 5 Year Olds


Finding the Right Books for Your Kids


*Disclaimer: Some of the links you see may be affiliate links. All that means is if you click through and end up making a purchase, I’ll earn a commission.


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