Supporting My Nonbinary Teen
Elizabeth Newcamp: This episode contains explicit language. Welcome to Mom and Dad are Fighting Slate’s parenting podcast for Monday, June 27th, thus supporting my non-binary teen edition. I’m Elizabeth Newcamp. I write the homeschool and family travel blog, Dutch Dutch Goose. I’m the mom to three littles. Henry, who’s ten, Oliver who’s eight, and Teddy who’s five. And we live in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Well, this week is a little wonky. Jamilah and Zach are out on vacation, so you get me.
Elizabeth Newcamp: The main section of this episode is a segment I did with Dr. Joseph Curran, a licensed psychologist, an assistant professor who focuses on identity development and sex education. A little while back, you all submitted your toughest teen questions, and he’s here helping me tackle them. But before that, we need to talk about the Supreme Court overturning Roe v Wade on Friday. I am so glad to be joined by Slate’s senior editor, parent and friend of the show, Rebecca Onion. And we want to acknowledge that this is definitely not the full conversation that we need to have. But we did not want this moment to pass by. And I know Rebecca and I were just talking that, like just being able to talk to another human about this. So we’re we’re hoping that this conversation just just helps you in this moment. So I guess. Rebecca, how are you feeling?
Speaker 2: Oh, overwhelmed. The leak coming when it did, you know, whenever that was five, six weeks ago. I feel like a lot of my emotions were spent when that came out. It’s still it’s hard to see it actually happen. Most people that I am in such a filter bubble, I realize, as most people that I interact with are like absolutely miserable and overwhelmed. And then every once in a while, someone kind of peeks through who’s like, This is a great day. And I’m like, Wait, how did you get in here?
Elizabeth Newcamp: That’s something I’ve I’ve talked about here because I’m in this odd place in Colorado Springs where like my core group of what I’d call like true friends are all on the same page because it’s hard to like, build those kind of relationships when you have totally different feelings about such major issues. But like the parent friends that I interact with day to day, like I feel like I’m almost hiding today because I know that some of them are going to be celebrating and figuring out how to respond in a way that is is meaningful.
Elizabeth Newcamp: Right. Like, I have this moment to have these conversations with them in a relationship that I have built in being parents together. How do I use that moment to, like, say something that is meaningful in a way that they can hear? Like, I think about that a lot, right? Like I feel angry and upset. But if I if I echo that back to them, I’m not using what little cloud I have to say, like, hey, actually, this is not this this great when for life or for whatever that that you think of it as. You know.
Speaker 2: That’s so interesting. I think, you know, I live in Ohio, so I have like a similar but my tribe. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. When my child was only five and a half. So we are still in the time when, you know, she is on the brink of going to elementary school. Right. An elementary school is going to be, I think, when these kinds of relationships start to happen a little bit more.
Speaker 2: As of now, what I have here is the core group of friends who are all on the same page. I’m editing this piece. It’s not out yet. I think it’ll be out next week by a historian who’s writing about the formation of the pro-life identity, like the idea that a belief in anti-abortion politics is not just like a belief in one thing, but is also a belief and sort of like like a whole constellation of ideas. And so I think that’s probably why it’s like partly hard for you, is that it’s like it’s not just like having some kind of both sides conversation about a controversial issue you disagree on. You’re trying to come across like a big identity divide. It’s really hard.
Elizabeth Newcamp: It really leaves me in a place of like, oh, what next? Like, how do we predict the future of what this looks like in our coming weeks, months, years?
Speaker 2: Oh, my gosh. I have no idea. I think that I mean, it’s hard because, you know, one of my roles at Slate, among others, is editing history related content. And in the month and a half since the draft was leaked, I’ve edited, like however many thousands of words like what it was like before Roe. And there are so many different variables right now, especially like social variables. I mean, technology is totally different, communications are totally different, transportation, travel, all of those things. And even things like, you know, stigma and shaming it, like the way that people just didn’t talk about pregnancy. And that’s still true in some communities now.
Speaker 2: But I think on on a whole, like from what I’ve read about the immediate pre ROE time, in some ways we’re better off in terms of being willing to talk about it. More people know someone who’s had an abortion.
Speaker 2: But at the same time, the way that our political system and electoral system has been like contracted and constructed so that, you know, I mean, whenever it’s a familiar, very old story to people who listen to this podcast probably, but like the way that, you know, gerrymandering and, you know, the Electoral College have made it so that there’s a minoritarian rule that has changed a lot since pre Roe.
Elizabeth Newcamp: I guess one of the things we’re wondering is like, do you have a prediction on what this is going to look like for people, specifically parents like for parents who want to get an abortion but can’t access one.
Speaker 2: So it’s looking this up to the Guttmacher Institute adds a statistic that it’s like six out of ten women who get abortions in the U.S. already have kids. So this is like a parenting issue. And one of the things that they’ll often say is, you know, I wanted to have resources for my existing kids, like the kids that are already here. I think but it is yet another instance in which, again, back to the identity thing, like if you have a certain set of beliefs about gender, parenting, domesticity, the family, then it’s kind of like a more the merrier situation and like the idea that you want to make a choice about, you know.
Elizabeth Newcamp: When you have them, how you, how you.
Speaker 2: Have them, how you have.
Elizabeth Newcamp: With.
Speaker 2: Yeah. That, that’s like a decision that’s made out of like resistance to something natural, which the natural thing is to sort of like accept what’s going to happen and like try to extend yourself further, which I feel like is this idea about especially women, maybe parents in general, but specifically women and mothers that, like you do, have infinite reserves. If you could just like tap into it.
Elizabeth Newcamp: True. Like more. What’s the big deal?
Speaker 2: Exactly. And you see a little bit of it in like occasionally there’s like this, you know, infuriating clickbait articles from right wing women. I have one particular person in my mind that I will not say where they explain how they came to have nine children and how great it is and, you know, whatever and that you always, like, look into their backgrounds and they have like a lot of money in their their husband has a really like high paying job or whatever.
Elizabeth Newcamp: My frustration about this whole thing is looking at the totality of the situation like we’re going to pass this abortion ban, but also we’re not going to provide anything else. That to me, is the life part of that, right? Like, we don’t care about maternal health care. We don’t care about your child safety in their school. We don’t care if they get fed b that like our formula shortage or making sure that we have enough food and clean water. Like we don’t care about any of that. But you need to have this baby is mind blowing to me as a person who can have a baby like, you know, just this, like, idea that I in the future could not have any choice and that is is crazy like is it doesn’t it almost like doesn’t compute, you know.
Speaker 2: Yeah.
Elizabeth Newcamp: In a minute we what have you thought at all about how to bring this up with your kid or how other parents can bring it up with their kids?
Speaker 2: I am not going to bring it up unless she brings it up. Yeah, but I’m a coward, you know, she’s only five. She has like a I think it’s classically five year old, sort of like self-centered. Yeah. Yeah. Like view of the world. And I think she would mostly just find it kind of like striking inside the idea of parents not wanting to have kids. Yeah, because, like, every once in a while, she’ll say something like that to me. Like, if we’re having a particularly hard time, she’ll. The other day she said, I bet you wish you never had a little girl. Which is like was so sad. I broke my heart and I was like, No, I don’t wish that. I just wish that you were brush your teeth, like.
Speaker 3: With everything.
Speaker 2: But me. But yeah. So I haven’t had to deal with it yet.
Elizabeth Newcamp: My oldest boy is ten and, you know, obviously has heard the word abortion and sort of asked about it. And I was like struck with this idea of exactly that, that like there’s this gut instinct of like, okay, I have to explain that sometimes we terminate a pregnancy for many reasons, including choice, you know, and really found that one it was best to answer honestly, but to also tell him like this is a kind of medical care. He receives a bunch of medical care. And, you know, this is really a decision that that should be made with a provider that you feel safe with, because he understands that he’s had a bunch of medical procedures. He has met doctors. He has heard us talk about whether or not he should have a tonsillectomy, you know, those sort of things. And so relating it to that in terms of like you don’t necessarily have to agree with the outcome or understand this.
Elizabeth Newcamp: But the the abortion itself is a medical procedure that there are a lot of different reasons. And like many health care things, you don’t get to decide when someone has those things. That is a personal decision that a person makes with their doctor, and that is kind of how we’ve framed it at this point, because I want to give it’s like I didn’t want to give him the chance to think too much or hear too much about like. I don’t know. There’s just something about when we and I think this is how, like pro life has become. Right. Like if abortion is killing babies, it’s really easy to sell as as something bad.
Speaker 2: It’s complicated because you’re you’re bringing up, you know, the idea that some parents didn’t want to be parents, but also that there there are some really tough, like adult situations that the people, you know, that come up like I, I, I’m sorry to continually plug the various pieces around this that I needed, but that’s what we want.
Elizabeth Newcamp: Yeah, that information.
Speaker 2: I edited this really good personal essay about this woman who whose mom was in a really bad domestic violence situation. And when she was around 13, her mom got pregnant and was like, 42, you know, pretty old already. But also just like really trying to leave this guy and she got the abortion and she was able to leave him.
Elizabeth Newcamp: Right. And if she had, things would have been totally different.
Speaker 2: Right. But can’t tell a ten year old no kids that story.
Elizabeth Newcamp: He doesn’t have the context to understand that yet. So I was thinking like, how do I set the stage so that when he is old enough to read that this he almost doesn’t have to have that moral debate because we’ve already kind of set this as like, this is a medical decision. I mean, I need him to understand that the world is not black and white.
Speaker 2: I don’t want to read into what you’re saying too much, but I will just say that it sounds a little bit like it’s like, you know, the the pro-life position is a black and white position. So and a little and a little bit of a way it seems like there’s like a little bit of a worry that if we don’t get into the complexity with kids, they’ll end up sort of like sticking, getting stuck in.
Elizabeth Newcamp: Like that’s when I’m where I think, yes, I’m not very nice.
Speaker 2: And I think I think I don’t know, maybe this is cowardly of me, but I really do. I do feel like that like as they grow up and they go along, if you’re if they’re living in a household where they see you guys model conversations about difficult topics that are complex, I feel like they’ll get it. Yeah, like, I don’t know. I feel like there’s more. Maybe it’s a cliche to say. Maybe it’s like. Yeah, exactly. Maybe it’s a cliche to say, but I feel like there’s more to like the development of a child’s worldview than like these explicit, targeted conversations about topics. It’s like about the like habits of mind kind of. And if you’re teaching the habits of mind in like other realms, then I feel like it’ll get transferred over.
Elizabeth Newcamp: To good optimistic I’m go with that that’s a good I.
Speaker 2: Hope it’s.
Elizabeth Newcamp: True optimism on today.
Speaker 2: Wow.
Elizabeth Newcamp: So we did want to let everyone know that there’s a bunch of great Slate coverage and analysis that we’ll link to in the show notes. Rebecca Do you have other articles or resources to recommend to our listeners?
Speaker 2: I mean, there’s a million great pieces on Slate.com right now about this decision. Among them, I would especially recommend. Susan Matthews wrote a piece called This Is a Blood Issue, which is about the fundamental division inside the ROE decision. And Susan, just people might know, did a whole slow burn season on the Roe v Wade decision. So she’s been thinking about this for months and the piece is really helpful and puts its finger on something.
Elizabeth Newcamp: I was going to second the slow burn just to say like if podcasts are more your thing, head over there, you’ll get a deep dive into into the larger picture of this. And this definitely will not be the last conversation about this that you hear on mom and dad are fighting. It’s just the beginning. We, of course, will cover changes in this post real world, but we’d really love to hear from you. Let us know what thoughts, insights or questions you have. You’re welcome to send us a voice memo screaming into the void. We love to hear those and and just be here for you. You can email us at mom and dad at Slate.com. And a huge thank you, Rebecca, for joining me on such short notice to just have have a conversation about this.
Speaker 2: Thanks for having me on.
Elizabeth Newcamp: So we’re going to take a quick break. And when we come back, Dr. Curran and I are going to pivot to your teen questions. Stay with us.
Elizabeth Newcamp: All right. Today, we are speaking with Dr. Joseph Curran. Joe is a licensed psychologist, an assistant professor who focuses on sex education and identity development. Joe, welcome to the show. I’m so glad you could join us.
Speaker 3: Thank you. I’m glad to be here.
Elizabeth Newcamp: We’ve had a ton of questions from parents and we’re going to try to get through them all. But before that, can you kind of tell us how you got into this work and what you find rewarding about it?
Speaker 3: I got into this, honestly, going through my own stuff through therapy and realized I really liked this. This is it kind of spoke to me from a different angle where like, I want to do this. And then as I got into my education and training, all of a sudden, I also really fell in love with teaching. And so then it was like, Hey, wait, I want to do both of these things. It’s kind of funny because my favorite client age group, in all honesty, is college age. So I mean, I have clients that range from all ages and I’ve worked with all ages, but that’s kind of my favorite because they’re at this point where the first time in their life they are separate from, you know, families. They have kind of the control to be like, hey, I can make some decisions. Yet they’re young enough that they’re still looking for guidance. And so you really can just really empower this age group to kind of find who they really are, you know, kind of really figure that out.
Speaker 3: And so I think it’s a really cool age group and you know, with teaching like that, my favorite thing I always say in classes, like, I’m not here to tell you how to think. I’m here to make you think about why you think how you do. And if I can do that, I’ve done my job. And so and students really resonate with that because then it’s not, you know, other professors telling me what to do. It’s, Oh, I get to try these things on and see if I like them.
Elizabeth Newcamp: So yeah, which is good in the classroom. And also, I mean, so many of these questions kind of come from that, from this a this college age group searching for their own identity and separating themselves from their parents, but also being faced with, like the world we live in today. And then parents not sure how like how do we shepherd them but also give them, you know, this independence?
Speaker 3: Yeah, well, it’s kind of that it’s kind of that pull of like, you know, we have this magic age, you know, like someone decided an 18 year old boy that I’d like to revisit that decision, but they’re off kind of trying to adult. And then parents are also trying to like, I know my child’s an adult, but they’re my child. And so it’s just like it’s that time frame of identity development, you know, it’s kind of who am I? Yeah, kind of going on. So, yeah.
Elizabeth Newcamp: Are you ready to dive in.
Speaker 3: Sir? Well, let’s. Okay, let’s see what we got.
Elizabeth Newcamp: Here’s our first one. How can parents make themselves safer spaces for teens to discuss and explore their identity and sexuality?
Speaker 3: Okay. So we’re going to start with you, starting with.
Elizabeth Newcamp: The big one. Yeah, what everybody wants to know, right?
Speaker 3: Okay.
Elizabeth Newcamp: What’s the magic answer, Joe?
Speaker 3: Oh, yeah. Okay. Magic answer. I got to say I will say this. The fact that this person is asking the question to me probably communicates they are trying to provide a safe space. And that’s really all we can do. Kind of what’s a safe space? It’s one where people aren’t judging each other. It’s one that feels comfortable to say something and might not feel like you’re not being listened to. You know, it’s kind of like going into the therapy room for a minute. One of the exercises I practice with couples and also families is, you know, before you say something in response, you have to restate what the person said. Mm hmm. And that’s a really good way to generate a safe space, because a lot of times, especially with these conversations, adolescence and early adulthood, they’re very anxious if they’re trying to share something that they’re trying to explore or something that maybe they think their parents aren’t going to necessarily support. And the best way to do that is before you respond to them, restate what you think they just said.
Speaker 3: Yeah. And by being able to kind of have this I call it check for understanding, I think the technical terms is reflective listening. You know, for any of the therapists out there, I know what that is. But it enables a space to actually be safe where you can share something. And it’s kind of it has two things. It makes the person listen and also keeps them from just responding immediately. You know, a lot of times in conversations, people like they’re waiting their turn. They’re not really processing the information. And so to me, that’s the biggest thing in creating a safe space is is really how you listen and then how you respond to that. And, you know, it’s okay to be authentic. It’s okay to share your emotions. Being thoughtful is a really good way to make sure that that’s done appropriately for everybody involved. And so that’s what I would say to make that safe space. Because if somebody is already asking this question, that to me that sounds like they’re trying. So the space is pretty safe anyway. It’s just that’s the technique, I would guess, like.
Elizabeth Newcamp: No, that’s awesome. I don’t have teams. My kids are little.
Speaker 3: But they will be. They will.
Elizabeth Newcamp: Be. And. And I look forward. I think one of the things I’m trying to kind of think about now is this idea of like, I didn’t have these conversations on sexuality and on identity finding when I was that age. Like, my parents didn’t have them with me. I don’t know if they, you know, it seems like they didn’t really exist in the main stage. We were not having these kind of conversations and so I don’t have anything to model that after. And I feel like I’m in a phase right now of learning more from people that are in my sphere that have opened up to me. But these are all new things. And and I think for a lot of parents, that’s true, not that they are at all new in the world, but new to us as parents and kind of figuring out how do I make sure that when my child approaches me with this, that they are not bogged down with my baggage that comes and, you know, with.
Speaker 3: Their.
Elizabeth Newcamp: Space? How do I not hand them my.
Speaker 3: My have them your style? Well, it’s interesting that you even say that, because, I mean, I’m an out gay man. And so, like, I’m I’m in my forties, so I didn’t have the model either. Right. You know, and so what I think partly of what we see today is this recognition from people, you know, in this generation that have gone through this and said, wait, I didn’t have anything. And it’s a thing like we need we need to make sure that we talk about this and that, you know, there’s models and there’s books and there’s information. And so I think that’s why a lot of people are seeing it now, because people that went through this before didn’t have anything. And it was a recognition of like I needed something to gain and there was nothing to guide me. So I think that’s why it’s seen now versus, you know, obviously when we were growing up, it wasn’t it.
Speaker 3: Yeah. So the second part of that question, you say baggage. I actually say emotion. It’s not really it’s not a baggage. It’s okay. So like you when you when you had your child, at that moment, you automatically start visualising, like what this child’s life is going to be. Right? Yeah. And we can say like, oh, no, I would never do that. We do that along with yeah. So it happens. It’s a thing. And part of that stuff. Part of that baggage. I just said air quotes I had seen you do air quotes. But anyway, part of that is parents realizing, Wait, my child’s life is different than what I thought it was going to be. And that’s upsetting for parents and sometimes parents for really guilty about that.
Speaker 3: And so then that stuff comes up too. So now it’s like, Oh, I don’t know how to handle this, and I’m feeling bad about how I feel and now I don’t know what to do, and then it just comes out. And so I think what’s really important for parents to understand is that, hey, you’re allowed promotion, make sure it’s in the right spot, make sure it’s in the right place. You know, parents are allowed to be, you know, have a period to be like, wait a minute, my child’s life is going to be different. You know, my child’s life is going to go in a different direction. I thought it was. And that means some things I’m going to gain some things, but I’m also might lose some things as well, and that’s okay. And so I think that gets lost in this whole shuffle.
Speaker 3: You know, it’s kind of the, oh, when my child says something, I’m just supposed to immediately run and be like, yay! And it’s like, we’re not robots. Like, we’re, we’re humans too. And so I think that’s what I would say is allow like, don’t feel bad about your emotion. You need to find a place to explore your own emotion with that versus obviously, you know, projecting that out to your child. I always remind the client, like you’ve known about this for a really long time, you know, Mom and Dad thought about it about 8 minutes, so we’ve got to give them time.
Speaker 3: Yeah. And I think sometimes people just don’t realize that, like, we don’t think about it. So I definitely think, like, the way to keep that, you know, to use your word, the baggage away from that is to realize what that is and then define the appropriate sources to talk to about that. You know, whether that’s your support group, your friends, family members or even I mean, if there are other therapists.
Elizabeth Newcamp: Therapists, you know, we recommend a lot of therapy on this show. Don’t worry.
Speaker 3: Yeah. So I mean, that’s what I that’s how I would answer that. So yeah.
Elizabeth Newcamp: We have a specific example about safe spaces that we love your insight on. A listener writes How can I best support my teen who has come out to me? The mom as non-binary but doesn’t want me to share with anyone, including my husband. This feels too big to keep just between the two of us, but I also want to respect their wishes. They are fine at the moment, at the very end of high school with being outwardly labeled as male. But as they move on to college this fall, they want to start using gender neutral pronouns.
Speaker 3: I definitely understand the mom’s point of view like this seems bigger than just something I can keep. However, your child is trusted you with this to keep right now. And that’s the advice I would give is. This is. This is a journey for everyone involved and everyone gets on the bus, for lack of a better analogy, at a different time. And right now, you know, their child has been on the best, obviously, for a really long time. Okay. And as our moms get on the bus but isn’t ready really to let other people on the bus, and it can be really damaging to force other people onto the bus.
Speaker 3: Yeah. Notice I’m not using the closet analogy. I say that. But we’re not. We don’t want other people on the bus. And it’s really important to respect that wish. It’s not a forever. You’re right. I mean, to be really honest, you know, if if they are wanting to use gender neutral pronouns in their college life, like that’s going to become known. Yeah, right. Like there’s going to be things that will start, you know, coming out and being being okay. To me, that that really is something that we need. I would I would encourage them to allow that to happen. Now, on the same token, I would talk to them about why not tell that?
Elizabeth Newcamp: Yeah, I was interested too. Like what? What’s going on? That they don’t want dad to know.
Speaker 3: Right? Like, what’s the concern? What’s the issue? And being able to tease that apart and be able to explore that honestly is is to me, that’s it. If I was the mom, that’s exactly what I would do with my child is, you know, I would respect that wish, but I’d also explore, okay, so I’m going to respect that wish for I want to help you understand and explore why you want this, right? Like, why? Why are we keeping this separate? Because there may be things that, you know, the child thinks might happen or is concerned about and mom can help alleviate that. And at the same time, there might be some real things that need to kind of be sorted through before Dad’s invited under the bus. So, yeah, yeah.
Elizabeth Newcamp: I’m a big fan of the, like, not my news to share. And I was thinking too on this, like the mom also, I think has the right to tell her child. Like, it is hard for me to keep this from her. I’m going to because you asked me to. And it’s not my news, but it does make it a more complicated situation. I think it’s okay for the right for the kid to understand that, right? Oh, yeah. I usually don’t keep secrets from each other. Whatever your family rules are.
Speaker 3: I support that. I think the more authentic communication and the real communication that Mom can provide about the uncomfortableness and not telling Dad is actually important for the child to hear. And I mean, this is different than like having a conversation with an eight year old, like, yes, we’re talking 17, 18 year olds about their problems, right?
Speaker 3: Yeah. One of the things with coming out that I don’t think a lot of people understand is that it’s it’s a continuous process. It is a lifelong process. It’s never over. And so it’s really important to let people control that and let people know they have the power. And I love what you said. Like, it’s their information to share. We need to allow them to share that information. And that’s why I think it’s so like it’s just so important to understand, you know, we’re not talking about a harm issue. We’re not talking about, you know, anything drastic. It’s just, hey, I’m not ready to share this information yet. You know, ironically, I told my parents together, but it was like I always tell people this, like, you don’t come out on a specific day. You know, we don’t do it at Christmas and New Year’s or, you know, whatever, big family gathering kind of thing. We do it on Tuesday.
Speaker 3: Yeah. That’s how I phrase like we do it on a Tuesday. And it’d be like, What does that mean? It’s like, you do it on an ordinary day because you don’t want to. When people do the big family thing, like there’s all these other things that go with, Yeah, having the whole family together that is just that’s not the time. That’s not the time. It’s I usually talk to people about like, you know, we pick an average random day really to make sure that that conversation is only focused on that information.
Elizabeth Newcamp: That got lost and other people.
Speaker 3: Lost. Exactly. That’s great advice.
Elizabeth Newcamp: So we are going to pivot just a little bit. We have a mental health specific question now. Our listener writes, I would love to hear about dealing with a teen who seems often so dispirited, not enthusiastic about anything, or is just being sullen and, like not talking to parents. How do we keep a real relationship and that line of communication open?
Speaker 3: Oh, okay. And, you know, this is probably first or really we haven’t said this, but we probably just everything we’re talking about is not medical advice. Yeah, definitely. Please, I encourage you to reach out to a mental health professional in your area. If something that we’re talking about today kind of resonates with you and you’re like, Hey, I would like to learn more about that. It’d be interesting to know if this was a change for the for the teen or, you know, I we all go through the teen angst, if you will, in some form or fashion. So is this a. Is this a behavioral change or is this something maybe a little bit more?
Speaker 3: I think the big thing with that is it’s kind of find his his heart. Finding the balance between I want my communication line open and I’m pushing too hard. Okay. Sometimes people just, you know, they’re not ready to talk or or they’re not wanting to talk, and that’s okay. It’s hard because, you know, we want them to talk because we feel something and we want to feel better. So we push them to talk so we can feel better.
Speaker 3: Yeah. And that’s not really what’s going on. You know, it’s if the teen is kind of sullen and kind of, you know, non-responsive and just doing that whole thing. As a parent, I would say, you know, obviously reach out to the teens, hey, I’m here if you wanna talk about something, you know, ask the questions. How did school go today? It’s really important to engage them in the normative conversation, even if they don’t want to participate, because that’s going to keep the line open and not judge them when they don’t want to share a whole bunch. You know, I guess school sign today. Okay, cool. You know, and then maybe if you get that a couple of times, say how me just curious what is what’s a fine school to. I don’t really know what that means like. What does that look like. Yeah, but you don’t you don’t judge them for like you should tell me more. You should really? Yeah. Like, don’t. Don’t go after.
Elizabeth Newcamp: That. This is such a good point. Like, the line can be open and nothing coming through it, and. And that can be very different than the line is closed. Exactly like you. It’s almost like the teen just needs to know that you are still there and you’re still involved, even if they don’t want to give you anything.
Speaker 3: Right. Well, and I think one of the biggest things to say is like, you know, hey, it’s cool that you don’t share anything with me. If you ever do. I’m here for you. I just want. You know, I love you. Yeah. You know, and that’s. Yeah, right. And they’re going to be like, you know, if they were like me when I was a teenager, like, hey, whatever, you know, leave me alone. But. Right. Right. But it’s it’s important because they’re really still going to hear that message. They’re still going to know that that’s there.
Speaker 3: You know, now, granted, if there’s some other things going on where you’re getting concerned about safety. Let’s get some professionals involved. That’s a completely different issue, right? Right. But yeah, if we’re just talking sullen, non-responsive, like kind of doing that, I, I’m withdrawing. But you know what I’m saying? Like, it’s not anything to be super concerned about to me. It’s just continuing to keep the line open. They don’t have to answer. And I think that’s the biggest challenge for parents is, you know, a parent feels uncomfortable, like, oh, they don’t want to talk to me. We got to say that, you know, as long as you let the child know, I’m there and I’m here if you want to. Yeah.
Elizabeth Newcamp: Yeah. And that’s it for our show. Thanks again to Rebecca Onion and Dr. Joseph Curran. On Thursday, we’ll bring you a second set of teen questions you all submitted, including how to navigate some uncomfortable but extremely necessary conversations about sex.
Elizabeth Newcamp: So I hope you’ll join us. Subscribe to the show so you don’t miss it. If you rely on the show for parenting advice, consider signing up for Slate. Plus, it’s the best way to support the show. Members will never hear another ad on this or any other Slate podcast. To sign up now, go to Slate.com, slash mom and dad. Plus again that Slate.com slash mom and dad. Plus this episode of Mom and Dad are fighting is produced by Jasmine Ellis and Rosemary Belson. I’m Elizabeth Newcamp. Thanks for listening.