Here is an excerpt from a book I’ve been reading, Understanding Your Young Teen: Practical Wisdom for Parents by Mark Oestreicher (Which by the way I highly recommend to any parent of a young teen or pre-teen and have a few extra copies for any Church At Charlotte parents).
“In educational theory, there’s an idea called “the null curriculum.” It’s the stuff we either never talk about or avoid talking about. And the idea is that our null curriculum teaches students a lot. For example, if we never talk about homosexuality, we inadvertently communicate that we have nothing to say on the topic, that God has nothing to say about the topic, and that kids should merely go along with whatever information they hear from other sources in their lives.”
So the natural question(s) that you should be considering is, “What is my child’s null curriculum? What are the topics of conversation that we (or I if you are a single parent) avoid or never talk about? Why am I or we avoiding those topics of conversation?” Another aspect of null curriculum is that, depending on the child, silence on some issues equals permission.
Typically we avoid certain topics because we… 1. Envision the conversation being awkward and uncomfortable. 2. We aren’t very knowledgable on the topic. 3. We don’t know how to introduce the topic. 4. We feel our past failures on the subject has rendered us disqualified 5. We are oblivious to it or don’t recognize the importance of the topic. And their are some topics that we just plain assume they already know or should inherently know all they need to know.
If you are hesitant due to your perceived awkwardness of the conversation you need to weigh whether or not an awkward and uncomfortable conversation is better than no conversation at all. If you aren’t very knowledgable on the topic then you need to make it a priority to research and get educated on the topic. If you’re not sure about how to introduce the topic then possibly the best thing to do is ask your child questions and find out what information they’ve gathered if any and then go from there. If you have a less than favorable past on a topic then contrary to disqualifying you are qualified because you can speak from firsthand experience.
If you are oblivious or assuming then here are some topics that I’m aware of that need to be addressed at some point.
- Faith & Reason/Christianity v. Science
- Moral Ethics: the ability to discern the grey matters
- Using over the cabinet drugs as recreational drugs
- Friends with benefits
- Finances: budgeting, saving and the dangers of debt
- Doubt/Crisis of Faith
- Racism & Bigotry
I’d love your feedback! Do any of those topics resonate with you? Have you struggled with talking to your kids about any of those topics? Are you curious as to why one of them are listed or would like me to elaborate? Are you still looking for some good resources on a particular topic or have you found a really valuable resource? Are you someone who looks back at your upbringing and wish your parents would have talked to you about some of these or other topics?