No, not about sex, we’ve been having variations on that one for years. But Eli will be 13 in a couple of weeks, Simon is 11 1/2, Isaiah is 9 and Asher is 7. Meanwhile most of my recent placements have been school-aged kids, several on the cusp of (or over it) puberty and adolescence. So here’s the most important talk I give to older kids – the one that I append to every other big discussion:
At the moment you think (and it will probably happen to you eventually – it does to most kids your age) “I am all alone” or “No one else has ever felt this way/done something this bad/been in as much trouble as me” or “I could never, ever tell anyone, especially Mom and Dad/my Foster parents about this because they would hate me/stop loving me/be ashamed of me/never forgive me” or “No one could ever understand/I don’t deserve help/There is no way out of this situation/it will never get better” THAT MOMENT is when we most need you to trust that you CAN tell us. Or if you can’t tell us, here is a list of other grownups who care about you and will help you and understand no matter what the issue is – one of them can tell us, if we need to know, or get you the help you need if we don’t. There are a lot of people who love you and can help you.
Being a preteen/teenager is hard. But it isn’t true that there’s anything you could do that would make us stop loving you or never forgive you or hate you. It isn’t true that you are the only one who has ever felt this way or gotten into a hole so deep they didn’t know how to get out by themselves. It isn’t even always true that your parents never did anything that awful or wouldn’t understand. You are not all alone, and we will ALWAYS help you, no matter how much trouble you are in, no matter how hard it is. We are on your side – being on YOUR SIDE is our most important job, and we always will be, and there is nothing the world so awful or difficult that we won’t help you. So tell us, or tell someone who loves you, and keep talking until you get the help you need.