This is the first in a year-long sponsored series with Responsibility.org's #TalkEarly Campaign.
We took down all of our Christmas decorations this past weekend. As I wrapped ornaments and boxed decorations I thought a lot about how Christmas will look different next year because Elias is now in on the magic.
You see, during family movie night two weeks ago, we were watching Rise of the Guardians. You know the movie right? It tells a story about Guardians Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and the Sandman, who enlist Jack Frost to stop Pitch Black from engulfing the world in darkness. Well, Elias got up during the movie and came to me in the kitchen and said, “Mommy, can I talk to you in private?”
The Question I've Always Dreaded
I knew what was coming.
He said, “You know how I know the Easter Bunny isn't real, right?”
“Yes,” I said, with a smirk. I knew where this was going.
“So I was thinking… if the Easter Bunny isn't real, does that mean all those characters in the movie aren't real… like Santa Claus?”
There it was. The moment I was dreading.
We sat down in the dining room and talked about Christmas being about Jesus, but how it also is a time full of magic and giving. Parents love making magic in lots of ways for their kids, and that yes, that includes Santa. I told him that now he got to be in on the grown-up tribe of merry magic making and that he had to keep it special for his siblings and friends. He thought all of this was amazing.
Elias will be entering middle school next year (it starts in 5th grade in Nashville!). I know that Santa is just the tip of the iceberg. We are entering the stage in parenting of honest, deep, and sometimes, tough, conversations.
Matthew and I work hard to build trust with our kids. We are candid with them. We encourage them to ask questions and to make their own choices. We believe that having open conversation is key to helping our kids grow into smart, thoughtful adults. And as they grow, the conversations will evolve.
When Responsibility.org reached out about collaborating this year, I eagerly said yes because their heart and mission aligns so well with Matthew and me. Responsibility.org is a national not-for-profit organization which leads the fight to eliminate drunk driving and underage drinking and promotes responsible decision-making regarding beverage alcohol. Responsibility.org’s programs and resources help parents, teachers, and other caregivers create a culture of conversation with children starting at a young age which continues through adulthood.
One of Responsibility.org's programs is #TalkEarly, which has the goal of empowering parents to be confident about their own decisions regarding alcohol, to model healthy, balanced behaviors, and to create a foundation for starting conversations with their kids from an early age. Responsibility.org also has a suite of educational programs and resources for parents all the way up to the college years. The bottom line: it’s never too early to start instilling healthy habits in our kids, and that conversations no matter what age, will evolve.
Throughout the next year, I'll be sharing about various #TalkEarly conversation starters and topics. Though Matthew rarely drinks and I never drink (I hate the taste of alcohol), we know it is important to talk with our kids about responsibility around alcohol.
A Prompt for January
January is a popular month for parents committing to healthier habits as a way to combat overindulgence during the holidays. For some, it is a month-long commitment, like whole30 or going dry for the month. If you've made a resolution for a finite period of time, consider how you can be mindful over the course of a year – not just a month-long hiatus. Over and over in my life, I have learned the value in taking a longer view, and how my own behavior is an example to my children. Going to the gym models a commitment to health and self-care. Limiting our alcohol consumption, or going dry for a month, teaches our kids about boundaries. As we embrace new habits, let's talk with our kids about them.
Because if I can talk about Santa with Elias, I'm convinced we all can talk to our kids about anything.
What hard conversations have you had with your children recently?