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How do we as frum parents teach our precious children about the “bird and the bees” in an ehrlich and dignified manner? My 16-year-old son has asked very personal questions about the facts of life, and I want to teach him the right information in the right way. But it is difficult as a mother, a woman, to talk about these issues − especially as a single, divorced mom with no caring dad in our home to deal with this.
I do hope I am giving him the right message. But it can get embarrassing when he asks me personal questions relating to when I was growing up. I want him to feel close enough to me to approach me rather than to pick up (mis)information on the street, but I have to overcome the discomfort this causes me at times.
I would like to know how other single moms deal with this.
Rachel, can you shed light on this subject please? Thanks for all your help.
A Modest, Caring, Single/Divorced Mom
You’re on the right track − the best kind of relationship to have with your children is an open one. When kids sense that you are there for them in a sincere, nonjudgmental and caring way, they will not hesitate to ask you about anything.
You can “share” your own feelings as a teenager − to the effect of, “I never had to wonder about hearsay or whispered speculation among my peers. My mom was always there for me. No matter what the subject, I knew I could always rely on her”
Or, you can venture, “I always envied my friend who could speak to her mother openly about anything. Know that I’m here for you whenever you need an ear, a shoulder, advice, or just some clarification I, as your parent, love you deeply and will never steer you wrong.”
This is not to say that you should go into detailed explanation with commentary. You’ll do just fine by answering his question matter-of-factly and not going into further detail that he may not necessarily be ready to hear at that particular time.
Single parents whose natures may make this task a challenging one − especially where it involves a mother/son or father/daughter relationship, can encourage their child(ren) to foster a kinship with a close relative whom they know to be reliable.
Either way, it is best for parents to use discretion in divulging personal issues/details of their private lives that would have no bearing on the child’s “education” − such unnecessary information can be overwhelming for the young mind and only serve to confuse him/her. Unresolved personal matters that weigh heavily on the single parent are best dealt with via professional counseling.
And while we are on the subject of communicating with one’s children, every parent should be aware that a child is never too young to be told to be wary of anyone making any overtures to touch him/her in an intimate way. Keep stressing that s/he is completely safe confiding in you, his/her parent, regardless of anyone’s threat or intimidation.
Hatzlachah… and may Hashem keep a constant watch over our innocents and guide them in the right direction.