Tools available to talk with your kids
I have always found it important to talk with my kids because I know that they are bombarded with examples of relationships everywhere they go, many of them far from realistic.
From movies and television to advertising and friends, young people are being fed information about what relationships look like all the time. Most of the information provides an unfair expectation of how good relationships start and grow.
In a time where young kids and teens have so many influences, from Facebook to Twitter to suggestive songs or music videos, it is important to make sure that they are getting information on how to identify fact from fiction when it comes to interacting with a boyfriend or girlfriend. They also need to understand your expectations as a parent.
I grew up with a single parent and never had conversations about these things. I made mistakes, and while that is part of growing up, I wish I would have had someone to help guide me in recognizing what a healthy relationship looks like. I want to help my kids avoid some of the mistakes that I made. Having conversations, even when you might think they are not listening, is a great way to do that.
A tool to help is the new Talk Now Talk Often AK (TNTO) program. TNTO was developed using discussions with parents across Alaska as its core. The program is a partnership with the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault and the State of Alaska Department of Public Health.
TNTO has created a few different ways to help adults and teen-agers build the necessary foundations to start meaningful discussions. There are conversation cards that can be placed in a purse, wallet or back pocket I am glad that there are great resources like TNTO available to help us parents.
TNTO has created a few different ways to help adults and teenagers start talking. They have developed conversation cards that can be used anywhere. The cards have questions, like "What does bullying look like at school?", "What do others do to stop bullying?" and "What could you do to stop it?"
I have looked through the cards and I love them! The questions are easy to ask, not personal or threatening, and they provide an opportunity to lead to some great conversations. For me, a good spot for the cards will be in the car so I can use them while driving my teen home from an event or school. It's a great time of day when I get to catch up with them about what is going on in their life, and when they are least distracted.
TNTO is designed to provide guidance for parents, like me, as they try to talk with their kids about healthy relationships. But it is not just for parents; it is of value for other family members, coaches or even teachers.
The world we grew up in is not the same for our kids. With technology, they have access to so many people and sources of information. It makes them much more connected to the world than we had ever imagined. It's up to us as parents and guardians to guide our kids through these experiences that are all new to them.
However, we CAN engage our kids in a meaningful way whether it is on topics like technology, friends or bullying.
You can visit the TNTO website at www.TNTOak.org, to download or order the cards for free.
Tammy Fowler Pound lives in Unalaska with her husband Jack and their three children.