Kids are not dumb, nor do they walk around in a bubble, learning only what we want them to learn and seeing only what we want them to see. As a mom myself, I can completely understand wanting to shield your child from harsh realities, from subjects that you feel are too old for them, from anything that goes against what you believe or how you want them to behave. I get all that, but the fact is that kids are like little sponges, they absorb everything, and personally, while I would never tell another parent how to raise their child, for myself, I do not feel that trying to lock these things away - these bad influences or grown-up topics - I just don 't feel that this is the right answer; at the least, this is not the right answer for me.
Long ago, when my daughter was just old enough to talk, she began asking questions. She's always been inquisitive, always wanted to know why, how, when, and where, and there where times when her questions were fine, if a little annoying (Why, Momma? Why? Why? on repeat, 1,000 times a day) but there where other times that her questions seemed a little alarming.
I'm not gonna lie; my very soul flinched when she asked me where babies came from. No way did I want to answer that question. Uh-uh. But when she didn't get an answer from me, she went to her auntie; her auntie who gave her some long, convoluted explanation that involved chickens and butterflies and who knows what else, because I surely don't understand what my daughter told me Auntie had said, and Auntie swears that my daughter mashed up multiple conversations into one. So I am, to this day, not sure what went on during that conversation (I was at work) but what I do know is that my daughter had her entire class wanting to find some chickens the next day, and I had a bunch of ticked off mommies and daddies wanting to know what exactly it was that I did with chickens. Ummm, what?
Lesson learned; that was the last time I didn't answer a question my daughter put towards me, because I learned the hard way, if they don't find out from you, they will find that answer somewhere else, and you may not agree with the answers that they have found (you may not even understand the answer. Chickens? Really?!?!). By talking to my daughter, while I cannot change the fact that she is going to find information and opinions that I decidedly do NOT agree with, she at least knows what her mom thinks and/or knows about that subject.
And by talking with my daughter, I can find out what she thinks, and what she knows. And I've found that about some things, I am very proud of her opinions, while with others, I've done some damage control. But the point is, we now have the habit of talking with each other. She is not ashamed to ask me about things; yes, there are topics that we both find uncomfortable (dating), but she at least asks me the questions, and knows that she can expect an answer of some sort, and not be shoved off or brushed aside. And this talking, this communication did not stop with horribly uncomfortable questions; this line of being asked and answering has lead to other topics. We have talked about budgeting, college, what she is learning in school, travel, bullies, plans for the future, favorite books - you name the topic, we have likely talked about it (yes to drugs, STDs, and all those other soul-flinching topics as well). We talk; we communicate.
I am not trying to be her best friend, when she gets older (adult!!), I don't want to be the one pouring her drinks, nor do I want to be scouting out the hot guys with her. That is not a mom's job, at least, not this mom. But when she needs help, when she needs answers, when she just needs to talk to someone, I want to be one of the first people she thinks of - that is a mom's job. But if I am not willing to communicate with her now, will I be the person she comes to later, when she is an adult and has more choices? I don't think so, so that is why I think talking with your kids is one of the most important things that a parent can do - to start building the habit of communication while they are young.