Currently a stay at home mom of 4, who has been divorced, was a single mom for most of 9 years working one to three jobs
There are many movies/tv shows out there about what would happen if someone were to touch or hurt a child in a way they would not know how to explain or be too terrified to tell someone. Either be terrified or not know how to tell you.
One day I was in the kitchen making dinner. My 4-year-old daughter came up to me telling me she had a booboo and pointed down toward her private area, so I took her to the bathroom and had her show me. There was a scratch down there and I started asking her open questions. Has anyone touched you down there? How did they touch you? When did they touch you? How did this happen? Who was around?
I was shocked by the answers I was getting. I knew overreacting was not going to get us anywhere so I tried to be calm. I was trying to ask her in different ways to see if she would change her answers. I tried not to overload her with questions but enough to get some answers. After months of investigations and court dates, the person that had hurt her would no longer be able to get near her. I was so grateful that she had come to me when she did. As a mom, I had to protect my child.
When watching those movies or tv shows where things like this happen to people, I never thought I’d be one of them. But I also did not want to be that mom that could have helped my kid and didn’t. I believed her, and I did what I had to do to make her safe. Yeah, I had lots of people angry with me, saying I was wrong, but I did not care what any of them said. I was there to fight for my daughter.
With me knowing how to ask open questions, I knew it wasn’t me putting words into her mouth. My 4-year-old was able to come to me and tell me there was something wrong. Years later, she still feels comfortable coming to me and telling me things. If it wasn’t for me teaching her at a young age, things could have been so much worse. I took the time to listen to what she was telling me, and I did what I had to do to show her I believed in her.
You can start this while your children are young. This will help when they become teenagers and they either don’t want to talk to you or don’t know how. As a parent, you know from growing up that things arise and you just don’t know who you can tell or who will even believe you.
Do your kids close up when you try to talk to them? Only giving you short answers or barely saying anything at all? Do you hope that one day when they are teenagers going through their ups and downs they are able to come to you? Sitting around hoping that one day they will open up and talk to you is not going to work. You have to show them that you are their safe place. Show them how to talk.
When talking to your child, ask them open questions. Asking open questions means asking them questions where they will give you more than a yes or no answer. They will have to explain their answers.
For example, when picking them up from school ask simple questions like: What did you have for lunch? What did you do during recess? Who did you play with? What book are you reading? What is your favorite part? Or if they are little and don’t go to school yet. Ask them, what was your favorite part of the park? What is your favorite food? Show me what you’d like to do today.
Or maybe if your kids go back and forth to another parent’s house, you could ask them simple questions like: What did you guys have for dinner? Did you play any fun games? You want them to feel comfortable talking to you, but not in a way where they are telling on the other parent and they will get into trouble. Try not to ask questions where you are being too nosey about their other parent. Remember this is supposed to be about the children.
Talking to your children about little things will eventually turn your small conversations into big conversations. Show them you are interested in their day and what it is they enjoy. Take the time to listen to them.
They might start off saying ‘nothing’ or ‘don’t know’. After some time of showing them you care, they will start to open up. They might even share some information you never thought they’d share with you. Even some things you may not have wanted to know. They need to know that it is okay to come to you and talk. Be their safe space.
If you can build openness in your conversations with them it will make such a difference in your relationship. You will be so thankful when they become teenagers and go through their first breakups or even if something terrible were to happen to them. They will be able to come to you and talk. They will know that you have their back and will not judge them.