0:00:02 – Speaker 1
Welcome to the nextTalk podcast, where we share real stories and practical advice for parenting the digital world.
0:00:09 – Speaker 2
We’re your hosts, Mandy and Kim. Mandy is an award-winning author and the founder of nextTalk, and I’m the director of nextTalk, a nonprofit organization created to strengthen families through open communication. You can check out all of our resources at NextTalkorg.
0:00:24 – Speaker 1
We’re your wives, moms and friends, tackling culturally relevant topics from a Christian perspective. We’re sharing what we’ve learned and where we’ve failed. We’re so glad you’re here for this conversation, creating a safe place, getting back to the basics today. This is like a staple show that we’ve done. This is a staple show that we did years ago and we realized we need a refresher. This is an important foundational principle of Next.
0:00:54 – Speaker 2
Talk. It really is one of the most important things that we talk about, because it’s like setting the stage for the conversation. It’s like creating the culture. Where does it start? It starts with the safe place. We just wanted to share with you what that means, break it down and then share some examples of how that works in our home.
0:01:14 – Speaker 1
Listen, this is something that you do in every relationship. You have to have trust and respect. You have to build that and it takes time. Think about your spouse or your best friend or a close coworker, a close confidant. This is something that you start to build and you live here. There’s never a time when you let your guard down and be like, okay, now I can just blab their stuff to the world because I don’t care anymore. Right, you don’t ever do that. This is something that you will continually do in all your relationships. You want to be the safe place for your people.
0:01:51 – Speaker 2
Yeah, i think it’s important to say that what it looks like with your child will change over time, just like in your marriage. Creating a safe place and having that be something that really works and makes sense for the other person in the relationship means you’ve got to always be reassessing, observing, taking note, listening. This is just a huge game changer in any relationship when you’re doing it well.
0:02:18 – Speaker 1
So, yeah, one of the things that you said, kim, is that it changes over time. And the thing that popped in my mind is this When my kids were little, i would post about them on social media. I would say, oh little kindergarten here got the citizenship award or whatever. Oh, so much fun. And I would post it. Over time, though, that changed because as they got older, i’m like, okay, wait, i want to create a safe space for them and I want them to see me building it.
And so when my kids got a certain age and for me it was fifth grade, middle school, around that time, right when they get really more opinionated about things And then I had a guideline for myself and it was I’m never going to post about you unless I ask. And what was shocking to me is that, even when I thought the post was amazing like I’m bragging on them, right, and I’m including a picture they’ll be like I hate my smell in that picture. That is awful. I’m like that is the best picture ever. But they’re opinionated. But what it shows them is I respect you And I’m not just going to blab your business to the world or talk about you unless I have permission. And I think this is really, really important. Your kids need to know that you’re not going to broadcast their business.
0:03:36 – Speaker 2
Absolutely, especially in this world where we are so used to broadcasting everything on social media. We have that same guideline and almost every time I mean, if you know me, you know I rarely post. That is because my kids are like no, i don’t want you to post at all. Very rarely will they be like no, that’s fine with me And it really has become a respect thing And I want them to feel like I see them and I understand them and that I respect their boundaries. That’s important And that kind of goes along with.
The thing that came to mind when we were bringing this up for me was more when they were little, i always had to advocate for them.
You know, i always had to step in and call them mom, you know, for example, and say your kid did this thing, or call their teacher. And as they’ve gotten older, one of the things that has changed is when they bring information to me because they’re doing what I’ve asked them to do, because I’m their safe place, and they tell me all of these things, my reaction can no longer be just to go and tell someone who’s involved. It’s to say what do you need me to do here? You know I am your safe place and my most important job is to be here for you to help you heal from it or process it or overcome it or whatever it might be. And sometimes that’s it. I might. I may want to make a call, but then I’m messing with the safe place and that’s not worth it to me. But other times there is something for me to do, but we’re doing it together, me and my kid. You know we’re on the same page, and so that safe place remains intact.
0:05:05 – Speaker 1
So I love that you share this, kim, and this is a perfect example of communicating with your child. Okay, so one thing that I get asked a lot at events is well, what if my kid tells me something that has to be reported, like somebody’s threatening suicide or you know? it’s a serious situation, that somebody’s life is at stake. And I actually cover this in talk because this is an extremely important thing. When you create a safe place and you’re good at it, you’re going to know anything and everything, and what I mean by that is your kids are going to feel comfortable asking weird questions because they know you’re not going to tell everybody, but also they’re going to hear all this stuff going on with neighbors and friends and whatever, and they’re just going to vomit it out to you. And I like what you said, kim. You said you know sometimes you have to ask your kid what do you want me to do with this information? Like, do you want to just process it with me? Do you want me to go talk to that parent? Like, what are you asking me to do here? What’s my level of involvement? And as they get older, they’re advocating for themselves and you have to ask that question. So I like how you laid that out. I would even take it one step farther for the older kids, right, you get into situations with suicide and bullying and cutting and lots of serious, serious issues. Use my whole thing. Old Mandy would have just texted the school, alerted everyone, right, because I want to save this other kid And that’s important. We have to get help for the other kid.
But where I was missing the piece was what happens if you report that to a school. Is the school counselor is going to call your kid down to the office and be like, okay, walk me through this. What happened and why is your mom texting me or emailing me right now? That kid is going to be completely blindsided, because they came to you in confidence and then you just contacted everybody and alerted them. Here’s where I’ve switched it up. Now I will say honey, this person needs help. We have to make sure a counselor knows what’s going on so this kid can get help. So here are your options You can email the counselor.
I can email the counselor and ask that your name be kept out of it, but it may not be. Or we can maybe text this anonymous number, or we can, whatever, but we’ve got to do something to get this kid help. And we say this this is kind of like a disclaimer in the creating a safe place, because we always tell you don’t broadcast their business, don’t tell others what your kids are bringing to you, but there’s a loophole if another kid’s life is at stake or we have to stand up and speak up. But we do that now with our kid, yes, and what I have found is the really cool thing now is that I can circle back to my kid and say man, thank you for having the courage to do that And to as contacting the counselor together like, do you realize you could have saved this kid’s life?
Like we’ll never know, but what you did, it took courage. And so you’re literally now have a moment where you can encourage your kid to do the right thing, because it’s the right thing. And before, old Mandy was missing all that Just because I was like email, email, email, the information, right, but I missed all those great life lessons in it. And so, again, it’s that walking through hand in hand with your kid, when you’re figuring something out like this.
0:08:32 – Speaker 2
We probably need to take a few steps and remind people like what is a safe place? I mean, creating this culture of open communication requires a trust between you and your kid and finding where that’s developed, and so it’s finding a time when they feel like they can talk to you. It’s finding the environment where they open up naturally. That’s how you start to build that trust, because you answer their questions, you talk about all the things And every kid’s different. You know, i have a kid that loves to talk at bedtime. He didn’t before, but the last year or so I mean he is like racing up to bed because he cannot wait to download everything from his day. But if I ask him after school I get nothing. It’s like crickets, like no, thank you. And then I have another one. He’s got to be doing something active And so OK, we can do that. We can play basketball, we can go for a walk, whatever. They’re all different. And then there’s what was I going to say? I lost my train of thought. They’re all different.
One of my kids I finally figured out has changed over time. Because they will change. One thing will work, just like when they were babies and you finally got their sleep scheduled down or whatever, and then they change. Same thing. It’s just going to keep changing. So just roll with it. Try new things. One of my kids was kind of not talking as much And I was like, ok, so I tried something new. Not talking, i just sat by him while he was doing something that he likes to do And I didn’t say a word and I just hung out and I maybe commented a little bit on what he was doing And that was the key. Like that is my go to now with that kid is not saying anything And then he just starts opening up slowly. So finding that time, that place where they feel comfortable enough to open up with you, that’s how you develop that trust in that sense of open communication, where they feel like they can tell you all the things.
0:10:28 – Speaker 1
Well and I love that you said that, because hold on, i was going to wrap that Let me say this a little differently. I think this is extremely important because you’ve got to know your kid and know when they like to talk, And then you capitalize on those moments when they’re really in tune, and that’s when you can ask open ended questions. Did anybody get in trouble today? Is anybody using bad cuss words? Is anybody crushing on anybody? Those are little questions that I would ask my kids when they were in elementary school, just to get an idea of where’s your head at. What are you thinking about? And then proving to them whatever. They told me that it wasn’t going to go anywhere. And even if something simple, like I remember in elementary school when one of my kids said this little kid’s cussing a lot, and I knew the parent really well and I was like well, can I talk to the parent? Would that be okay? You know, even exercising, that you’re showing them the things that you’re telling me I’m holding dear to my heart. Here I am your safe place.
I always tell parents at events, like my husband he’s a super stressful job right, and at night he vents to me. you know, as I think a lot of adults do. They vent to their spouse at night, you know, after a long day of work. Would I ever post that on Facebook? Would I ever text it to my friend group? Oh my gosh, my husband’s going through this, this and this. No, because I respect my husband. You have to respect your children And the trust is not just going to be there.
And parents of preschoolers littles, i mean, i’m normally talking to the adults, but I just did a mobs event and I was reminding them listen. I remember those play dates at the park that were just like air that you could breathe and get some mom time right. I remember those days Just so excited just to have adult conversation while the kids were playing. But you have to watch that because I know I was so guilty of. I would tell the other moms what my kid was struggling with. You know, like maybe they don’t want to get rid of the binky, or maybe they’re pooping in their pants, or maybe they hear that And I know it’s like little and you think, oh, they’re not going to remember. They’re little beings and they listen and they’re like sponges that take it all in And you’re setting a precedence there that you’re not safe And so I encourage you like little things matter. Because here I am all these years later with a kid in college and I look back and I’m like the little things really did matter.
0:13:17 – Speaker 2
I was building trust over time They do, they really do. I’ve seen that play out a number of times, with little incidences that I didn’t think were a big deal, but it meant a lot to my kid. And so, within building that trust and being trusted with their information, a few little things that we always talk about, like when they actually do tell you things, you can’t lose your mind. You know we call it crazy parent mode. You can feel it inside, you can be dying inside and sweating, but on the outside it’s thank you for telling me, or I’m so glad we’re talking about these things. Even, and then you also can’t laugh.
There are times when my kids will bring something to me and it’s hilarious because it’s so ridiculous or it’s so, you know, inconsequential, but to them it matters The fact that they have told me, that they’re opening up to me.
I want to honor that. I want them to know that what they say is important and that I’m actually hearing them. So I contact, thank you for telling me. Or yeah, ok, let’s talk this through. That’s so important to you know, from the time they’re little, all the way up, and I will say one of my favorite things, favorite things about practicing this with your kid, i am always thinking about the future with them and what a gift it is to teach them how to communicate in this way for their future relationships. We didn’t learn this, and I think about all the conversations that I may have missed in the difficulties in relationships that may have not been there if I knew how to be a really good, safe place and how to have good conversation about hard things. And so it really is a gift to your kid to teach them how to create this culture of conversation in the relationships that matter.
0:15:03 – Speaker 1
One thing that you said that I want to highlight, kim you cannot dismiss them when they bring things to you And you know we have a reporting show. Like that’s one of the things that I feel like sometimes with open communication, you have to be clear about what you want reported to you And because everything is shared with your kids, like there really aren’t a lot of boundaries, because social even if your kid doesn’t have social media, the kid next to them in class does, or the kid next to them at youth group does, and so they’re talking about what they saw on social media. So your kid’s still getting exposed to all that right. And so we want to set up some clear reporting guidelines. And I remember when my kids were really little one of the first ones and it’s on the show there’s like five of them and we go through it. We’ll link that show for you here if you want to go listen to that.
But one of them was anybody in a bathing suit or less. I want you to tell me. Now, this doesn’t mean I believe all bathing suit pictures are bad, but it was just my threshold because I knew kids were struggling with porn. So I was trying to get my kids to tell me before they would see porn or if they did, that it would be reported to me, and so that was one of the things that I communicated to them. Well, i’ll never forget and this popped in my mind when you were saying I can’t dismiss I remember my little son bringing stuff to me from the iPad And it was cartoon characters who were big chested and maybe a bikini or whatever.
It definitely wasn’t porn, but he was reporting it to me And I know old Mandy wanted to kind of laugh and be like, oh my gosh, that’s so silly. Da, da, da, da, da. And that’s not porn, don’t worry about it. That’s not what I did, because, again, it’s the safe place and getting them used to confiding in me And, like you said, avoiding that crazy parent mode, not going crazy when I saw it if it actually was something. So it’s like both they end But saying to him thank you so much for telling me And that’s it. You don’t even have to say this isn’t porn, this isn’t what I just thank you so much for telling me. Yeah, totally, and it’s building trust, it’s building conversation in your relationship.
0:17:14 – Speaker 2
It totally is, and the really cool thing is, when you take the time and energy to do this and you do it well, you’ll start to see that your kid doesn’t have to be in that circumstance anymore, because the world is always ready.
We say this the world’s always ready to parent your kid or tell your kid whatever, and there’s so much access that we have to be our kids Google, and when they know they can count on you to tell them the truth and explain what things are, you really start to see what conversations are happening at school or in their different circles, because they’ll hear something that they don’t know instead of asking a friend. They come home and they’re like, ok, what is this? And then they realize, ok, mom really does know some stuff. So you kind of get some cool points. But also they feel like they’re never alone in trying to figure things out, and that’s a good thing. We don’t want our kids to be trying to figure out this crazy world on their own, and so the fact that they feel like they can ask you anything is another gift to them. They’ve always got a person they can depend on.
0:18:13 – Speaker 1
Well, and from when they’re little? just piggybacking on that. If you hear a new word, phrase, idea, concept, anything that you’re like, what, hmm? what is that Red flag alert? to go ask mom and dad. You know, just like you said, we’re the Google. Because I mean, here’s the thing I want you to think about a sexual question that maybe one of your kids have asked you. That’s shocking, right, we’ve all been there. Think about what your kid would have seen had they Googled that.
Now, i know that makes you mad and angry and upset, right, but I want you to flip your thinking Because you’re the safe place. You saved them from pornography, mm-hmm, mm-hmm. And that’s the beauty of being the safe place, because then you can protect their heart and mind for a little bit longer and you can speak into it. It’s a discipleship opportunity that we miss when we sweep things under the rug. Oh, yes, and so it’s just so critical that you’re the source of information, and I would always say in my mind, every question is a test for me Will this build the relationship or is it going to hurt the relationship?
Yeah, and so in my mind, i was constantly thinking about that all the time when my kids were little and bringing me questions And, i would think, even uncomfortable things that I didn’t want to tell them about. I would say this is an opportunity for me to build trust And I either am going to take it or I’m not going to take it. Yeah, and it was like an inner challenge to myself to not be afraid to dig into the hard conversations.
0:19:41 – Speaker 2
Oh, that’s good. That is so true. And there’s two things that came to mind that I want to share, that are so important and would be easier not to say. But I want you to know one thing for sure is this is not easy, but anything worth doing usually isn’t easy, and this is totally worth doing. Like there are going to be times when you’re going to be like please stop talking. You know they just go on and on and on and you’re tired and you just want to go to bed, or they’re telling you all these ridiculous things, but you’re trying to be positive, like thank you for telling me It’s not easy. It’s not easy but that will change and it will be worth it.
And then the other thing that’s like the little disclaimer is your spouse or whoever else is speaking. Even if you get grandparents on board, they’re going to do it differently than you, and that is OK. And this is a big one, because sometimes, as parents, when we see, like, when I see my husband doing it, like creating conversation with my kids or finding that special way to connect, i’m like, well, that’s not how you do it, like in my head, or I’m like you’re not doing it right or how I do it And I had to learn early on like that’s OK, they need dad in a different way than they need mom And it’s going to look different. The point is that we’re doing it And so I wanted to make sure to say those two hard things, but they don’t have to be hard If you know it’s worth it and you know it’s OK that dad can do it different.
0:21:07 – Speaker 1
Yeah, i think you know with the spouse and grandparents. Just make sure the core beliefs are the same And you guys can have those conversations behind closed doors. But as far as the rhythm of the open communication, let everybody find their own rhythm. Don’t, don’t tell your spouse how to do it. Don’t tell, i mean because Matt, he is literally like short to the point. He will cover a topic in like five minutes and be done. He’s like everything is everything that was said needs to be said. And I’m over here like wait, there’s like five other talking points that we got to get in and he’s like we’ll have fun with that. You know, that’s okay, that’s perfectly fine.
A lot of times Matt and I will, we’ll, we’ll sync up at night, you know it, when we’re before, we’re getting ready to go to bed, i’ll say, hey, i covered this, this and this, and he’s like, oh, that’s cool, i covered that part of the conversation and so that way we are understanding. Okay, what is our kid really getting now from us on a viewpoint on this or a belief system? You know, did somebody, did one of us cover the scriptural part of this? did one of us cover whatever? But it’s that talking amongst each other to make sure the communication is good with the kid. All great things to do.
0:22:20 – Speaker 2
And I think in that same point, something I don’t want to leave out there is It’s important to communicate to your kid that mom and dad are a team. So if you tell me something in confidence, i’m going to let dad know. But I’m gonna tell dad, like you don’t want to talk about it. You know openly if you don’t. But we’re on the same team because you know, we want to be able to pour into you and know what’s going on with you and pray for you. But I don’t want my kid to stop telling me things because they’re.
You know, maybe my daughter doesn’t want to talk with dad about certain topics, and that’s totally understandable. And you know, vice versa, dad with mom or sons with mom. But you’d have to communicate to them so they’re not blindsided. And your spouse has to be on board with that and not blurt out like, oh, mom told me about your crush or whatever. So again, it’s in that culture of open communication, making sure that you, you set those parameters on those things well, and I love that because You are also modeling.
0:23:20 – Speaker 1
You know, no secrets. In our family, mom and dad don’t have any secrets and that’s biblical, you know. The Bible says husband and wife become one, they become one person, and I think that’s modeling a good, healthy marriage for your kids, and I think it’s also very good that it’s modeling respectful boundaries. So so when your spouse doesn’t bring up the topic, or I, i’ve actually been told not to bring up certain things with my son, right, because the guys have been talking about something, and so when I model that, it again it’s building trust, it’s creating the safe place because You know my son, in this sense instance, knows okay, i’m talking to dad, dad’s talking to mom, mom’s not bringing it up, she’s totally respecting me here. That’s a way to build relationship. So all of this stuff works together to create the safe place.
0:24:12 – Speaker 2
So a lot of times people will say well, how do I start this process of creating the safe place? And you know when do I say something and how do I say it and what does it look like. And you know We have said before it sounds cliche, but it’s true and that’s why we will keep saying it. Pray, pray, ask the Holy Spirit to create moments that your kid opens up and he’ll show you when their talk time is. He’ll plant an idea in your head or a scripture or a story, and it’ll just make sense when you share it with your kid. Like the Holy Spirit is our advocate, he is, he is truly our partner in Helping us to figure out all this parenting stuff. So if we take the time to be still and listen, he’s gonna show us, and it’s gonna be different for every person and every kid. There’s no script that Mandy and I could ever write, but the Holy Spirit knows what needs to be said and when.
0:25:07 – Speaker 1
So pray well, and a lot of times those Holy Spirit moments will come up because of a question your kid brings home to you, right, and you were like how in the world do I answer this in age-appropriate terms? and You know it’s okay If you don’t know what to do in the moment, it’s okay. Just say to your kid Can I have a minute to pray about this? because I don’t want to give you too much information. That’s gonna scar you for life and like I literally used that phrase with my kids Scarred for life.
My son actually made up a rap about it. Scarred for life, scarred for life, everybody, everybody. Scarred for life. Anyone dance to it and it would just kind of became our thing, right, but I would say I don’t want to scar you for life. Can I have a day to pray about it and come back to you and talk to you, because I want to give you the information and I’m so proud of you for asking me. I am your Google. I’m gonna give you the information that you need here, but I want to do it in a way that’s good for your heart and mind and And those are the moments where you you really dig into prayer and scripture on how to how to say it now. I used to give myself a 24-hour rule, because I do think it’s extremely Important. Do not use this as a scapegoat not to answer their questions or not to go back to them.
Yes or to be like well, i’m praying through this and you’re kind of waiting and you know you don’t get clarification, so you let five weeks go by, like don’t use the Holy Spirit as a scapegoat, right, right, you need to be digging into this and saying, okay, if it’s reach out to us. We get emails sometimes and it’s like I’m in the 24-hour period.
What do I say? What I say, reach out. And then sometimes you’ll go back to your kid and be like thank you for giving me that time. I prayed about it. You know I sought a mentor. You know I looked at some books and here’s what I think we need to talk about first. And Sometimes they’re like I’m good, i don’t even need this information anymore. And then you could be like hallelujah, we escaped, you know, but? but sometimes with these curious kids, they’re gonna have more questions and they’re gonna keep going. And and that’s when you dig in, because what a great opportunity To create a safe space, right, absolutely so the other end of that we’re kind of talking about.
0:27:18 – Speaker 2
You know When you have young kids and what that looks like and, as time goes by, how you maintain, creating the safe place. But what if you just found Mandy and Kim or Mandy’s book and you’re like, okay, okay, this all sounds so good, but you know, i have a junior in high school. How do I do this? How do I start this Creating a culture of open communication, when I have not laid out any of these guidelines? I haven’t told them that I’m there. Google, they’re not used to coming and telling me anything like what do I do now?
0:27:50 – Speaker 1
Well, pray, because the Holy Spirit’s probably going to guide you here big time. I was in that boat, you know, when I found out uh-oh, I have missed some things here. What am I going to do about this Now? granted, my kids were still kind of young, but I still had missed years of building a safe space, years of elementary school of building a safe space, And I was like, oh no, you know. And so for me it’s starting with an apology, Like, hey, we probably should have set some guidelines around your screens. I probably should have told you you can ask me all the awkward questions, please don’t Google them. I didn’t do any of that And I didn’t realize, when you were Googling all this stuff, that you were probably getting all this crazy information that has probably now plowed your heart and your mind And I am so sorry about that. Like, maybe we can we start over. You know, can we, can we start to rebuild this, Because I want to be this safe place for you? I will tell you this parents of older kids who find yourself here I have seen God restore and redeem relationships where parents have thought it’s too late.
It’s too late. Listen, it is never too late, Your kid. Yeah, they may be getting ready to move out of your house, but that is your kid. You’re still going to have a relationship with them. It looks differently parenting a young adult, but you still have a relationship with them, And so start now. It’s never too late to start to say I want to be your safe place. Let’s start building trust in a way that’s more productive here.
0:29:31 – Speaker 2
So you know, we’ve shared some practical things that you can do to start creating this culture of conversation in your home. It’s so important. Be intentional about it. Don’t give up when it’s hard or annoying or any of those things, and pray, pray, pray, because God will show you. God will show you, and this safe space is a beautiful thing and it’s worth investing in.
0:29:53 – Speaker 1
It’s so important that I believe this safe space, it’s the solution to keep your kid safe in a crazy, overexposed digital world. This is the foundation of discipleship, of open communication, literally the mission of nextTalk. Thank you so much for joining us, listening and sharing our podcast. Because of you, this show is in the top 5% of over 2.9 million podcasts.
0:30:24 – Speaker 2
We have lots of resources for you, from counseling to live events. Or if you have a show idea or a question for our team, visit our website at nexttalkorg. We’d love to hear from you.
0:30:35 – Speaker 1
At nextTalk. We’re more than cyber parenting. It’s conversations to connect. This podcast is not intended to replace the advice of a trained healthcare or legal professional, or to diagnose, treat or otherwise render expert advice regarding any type of medical, psychological or legal problem. Others are advised to consult a qualified expert for treatment.
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