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Today, we keep things pretty low-key, and just share our personal experiences with some difficult or crucial conversations we’ve had in the past. I think it will be a lot of fun – more fun than it was in the moment for sure, haha.
*Disclaimer: we are not experts; we are human. But, I feel like we learn as we go, so maybe you can learn some things from where we’ve been – and share your tips, too!
#1: The Talk
I’m going to be real honest and admit that I essentially got “The Talk” in college. My parents weren’t tight-lipped per say. They merely said to ask if I had any questions, and I did, but what teenager is going to be the one to initiate that conversation with their parents? Haha!
So, my first tip is: don’t just say “if you have any questions, let me know” and leave it at that.
If a teenager has questions that you haven’t addressed, the first thing they are going to do in today’s world is Google it, right? Which is a danger zone for pornography and addiction at worse, misinformation at best.
Or, they respect your boundaries that this is a “taboo” subject, without knowing the why, and they have all of these big feelings they aren’t equipped to deal with.
Either they shut those feelings down completely and feel “dirty”, which can lead to a lot of problems with healthy sexuality later in life, or they act on them without understanding the consequences or concepts of agency, consent, protection, and personal or family values (such as abstinence).
Or, in my case, they will eventually get around to having that conversation with friends and, hopefully, good friends. Point being, don’t let someone or something else do the teaching.
As a parent teaching my own kids, my next tip would be: allow this to be an ongoing conversation, and get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
You’ve probably heard the idea that it’s not “the talk”, but “many talks” by now.
Guess what? This actually eases the discomfort! You can start small, and build trust and comfort.
For example, our kids are little, but I have had a few conversations with my daughter (she’s 4) that – these are your different body parts, some of them are private – they aren’t for strangers to touch or see, and it’s good manners to not take your clothes off in the middle of the house… 🤣.
My third tip, along with letting this be an ongoing conversation, is that it’s ultimately about creating a safe space for dialogue and big feelings and letting your kids know that home is where we can discuss anything, and learn together.
I want to get comfortable together talking about things that other people might consider “taboo”, because I never want my kids to feel like a certain topic is “off limits” with me.
We may not always agree, we may not always feel comfortable, but I hope we can always talk about it.
Our last tip is: subtle doesn’t do it! When I was preparing for this episode, I asked my little brother, did you ever get “the talk” from mom or dad? He said no… Yet my mom was positive she gave it to both of us, haha!
So, if you are having this conversation, make sure your kids know they are, too.
And, to be clear, my parents are amazing parents. We are less “hush-hush” by nature, today. Sometimes I wish I could turn on the TV and that wasn’t the case.
But, sometimes, it can be a good thing – especially when it comes to mental health and educating our kids, and offering each other a safe space to be vulnerable.
#2: The Budget
This one is tricky, both as a parent and in marriage. I’m not sure what the research says, but I was always under the impression growing up that most fights in marriage center around money.
So, a few tips we address for the budget conversation are:
- This conversation should start during courtship.
- Look for what your spouse can teach you.
- Learn together (books, financial advisor, Dave Ramsey), and don’t forget other aspects.
- Be open, honest, and realistic.
And, sometimes, we have to compromise on things as partners, because we each were raised differently. But, ultimately, I’m grateful that Joe learned these values and helps me pass them down to our kids.
I don’t want to foster entitlement or ignorantly get into situations that we will have to get out of later – and I want my kids to experience the freedom that comes from not having that weight on your shoulders.
For example, my degree was in Exercise Science, and I am glad I went to college. I learned a lot about myself, my field, my skillset, and I met a lot of amazing people (wink wink, nod nod).
But, I was always taught growing up, not by my parents, but by society in general that student loans were an acceptable debt.
So, that’s my tip, is I wish someone would have told me, it’s a choice – college, loans, investments, whatever it is, it’s not inevitable. There are several ways you can go about it, and there are also long term effects.
It’s really an exercise in critical thinking, and equipping our kids with that skill, too.
#3: The DTR
DTR stands for “Define the Relationship”, in case you are new to this one. But, we split this into two parts, “before marriage” and “within marriage”. Because they are significantly different. And Joe and I have definitely had our fair share of both.
Before marriage, I honestly wasn’t sure if we were dating for the longest time! He was writing another girl long-distance, and I was comfortable being “just friends”. But, it was actually a nice way to start out, because I could be 100% myself around him and that is what I loved the most.
Anyway, our first tip with the DTR would be, clarify if you are “hanging out” vs. “dating”.
If you are “hanging out”, and a girl mistakes you for being “just friends” even though you think you’ve made progress or sent signals, but you haven’t really been on an “official date” – that’s kind of a natural progression.
Let’s just say women (and probably men, I would wager) can be dense when it comes to “signals”.
If you want to “hang out” and keep things uncomplicated, that’s great, too. But, if you want to date, do that. They are different!
An official date is a specific request for someone’s company- whether it’s spontaneous or planned ahead, not just conveniently being in the same place at the same time.
Our next tip for the DTR would be, it’s okay to re-evaluate. You may not want to. But we had the “just friends” talk so many times, and I’m glad we are not just friends now! So, it isn’t always a one and done situation.
Much of the time, neither party knows quite what they’re feeling. It could be something, but it’s too soon to tell. Or you’re scared. Or you’re unsure about commitment. Those feelings are normal. Albeit not always comfortable.
But, I remember one time Joe told me, “if you change your mind, let me know”. When I did change my mind, I felt safe enough to tell him so, and I’m so grateful for that today.
It’s also okay to say, let’s come back to this when we know a little bit more, and each party has to decide how much patience to put into it.
Our third tip, is something my older brother told me when I was dating Joe. “Time is an investment.” If you say one thing and do another, that’s bound to create some confusion.
So, if you’re sincere in breaking something off, just like with “the talk” subtle doesn’t do it. If you are making the investment of time and yet saying that you don’t want something more, or you’re not making the investment of time and yet saying that you do want something more – that’s a contradiction.
Eventually, you need to get clear about how you’re feeling, and act accordingly, because not making a choice, is actually a choice, too.
Next, just as your actions are super powerful, so are your words. Choose your words wisely and clearly.
Before I met Joe, I was in a relationship where I said “let’s be friends – I’m not ready”, and then I stopped keeping in touch. At the time, I thought I was softening the blow, not choosing to be more clear, but later learned that was a huge disservice.
Obviously, my actions said, “peace out”, while my words said “I just need time”. In hindsight, I’ve learned that clarity and honesty can often actually be the kinder route. To say, “this isn’t what I’m looking for and here’s why”.
For our last tip, don’t let your DTR be your first real conversation. Test your communication skills and your ability to be yourself before the DTR. Then, when things are uncomfortable, you have someone you know how to navigate discomfort with.
Perhaps, that’s the point:
One-Liner: Learning how to navigate discomfort together is the secret sauce to any crucial conversation done right.
Journal Prompt: When you get uncomfortable in a conversation, what are your knee-jerk reactions? A lot of times these come from a place of self-protection. I think it’s important to realize that that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But, knowing your knee-jerk reactions, what can you do to be more open-minded in the future?
❤ Jenny and Joe
- The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton
- The quote I couldn’t remember 😂: “Whoever said fear is a great teacher has clearly never had the experience of being truly afraid.” – Rebecca Connolly
P.S. – We would love to hear some of your experiences with these conversations! Feel free to share 👇🏽.