... & other dinner table conversation
Family dinners are important. Numerous studies, magazine articles, and WebMD tell me so:
Eating dinner regularly as a family helps keep kids and teens healthy, prevents alcohol and drug abuse, and leads to better grades and more open communications.
In our family, dinner time is when we share what's on our minds, how our days went, what happened at school/work, etc. We try to keep it loose and since we're dealing with a Teen and a Tween, we to encourage open communication. Lately, however, I've begun to wonder whether there is such a thing as TOO open communications.
Since the Teen is taking a comprehensive sexual education course through our church (yes, your read that right: Our Whole Lives OWL - one of the best things UU congregations do) along with "Health" classes at school and the Tween has started taking Life Skills in his Quaker school, sex and drugs sometimes (often!) come up in the conversation.
I'm no prude, but I'm still sometimes shocked and often surprised at the things they learn (and know!)
Among the things I've learned from my kids during supper-time:
- there are more than 10 ways to use marijuana and equally as many different ways to "use" tobacco
- when a boy goes through puberty, his nipples may tingle as his breasts grow
- testicles hang one lower than the other
- [skipping whole bunch more of things not taught to me as a girl-child in Catholic school]
- and yes, apparently, mermaids - although they lack genitalia - do, indeed pee. It is believed they excrete through their gills or skin, the same way that fish do.
This last piece of information was NOT, in fact, learned in health or sex ed class, or from the materials sent home along with a sample of Old Spice deodorant. This question came from Yahoo Answers.
People who say, "there are no stupid questions" have obviously never visited Yahoo Answers. My kids find it highly entertaining and like to share some of the idiocy with their Dad and me. I'd keep them off of it (& the Internet in general) but that would be nigh near impossible.
So, instead, we're working on establishing "boundaries" and practicing that gentle balancing act of keeping the communications lines open while searching for "teachable moments." Plus, a fairly constant set of reminders that "what is right and normal for our family is not necessarily acceptable" for other families and in polite company.
And so may it be.