So when did I, as a parent, realize how fragile the lines of communication are and will continue to be with my daughter? Just a few days ago, when, for about the second time in a week she said, “I didn’t tell you because I was afraid you would be mad or sad.”
When I tell you that my heart broke into bits I hope you understand that I am not overly dramatic. The one thing I had always expected my daughter and I could do was talk together about anything. But here we are — she is a newly minted six-year-old — and already she doesn’t feel like she can tell me about parts of her life. Right now, those moments are relatively small incidents and certainly nothing I would be upset over.
However, this unwillingness to broach potentially hazardous topics with me is not something I can let continue. Fortunately for me, a few weeks before this realization, I’d been scrolling through TikTok and heard a lady describing a policy in her household called the “Safe Talk.”
She (sorry, I don’t remember her Tok handle) said that at any time, her children can approach her and ask for a “Safe Talk.” No matter what they are doing, the adults in the room stop and turn all their attention to the child and listen. There are to be no reactions other than what might arise from a calm and patient audience. This is when a child can admit to feelings, actions, and/or emotions that they feel would otherwise cause an angry response in their parental unit/s. I thought it was ingenious, and at the time, I filed it away as a helpful tool I might need to use when my daughter reached her teens.
Whelp! As of last week, we started the “Safe Talk” policy in our household.
I sat LillieMarie down and told her how mommy wants to hear the good things that happen, but I also need to hear the bad. How I want her to trust these details to me and that I won’t get upset at her, and that we can always figure out ways to deal with whatever the issue is. Because who knows what might happen? I can’t see into the future, so I need to plan for it.
I told her what a “Safe Talk” was and why it was important that she talk to me about things. She thought it was a great idea, and I have real hopes that the next time something happens (she gets in trouble at school or breaks something around the household), she will be willing to approach me because she knows I will provide a safe space for communication.
Now, does a “Safe Talk” equal no consequences? Absolutely not, but it means that we will work through the implications together, calmly and collectively. I am hoping that by introducing our new communication style this early on, because it’s obviously already needed, we will get into a pattern of open discourse that will continue naturally into her teens and adulthood.