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How to Talk to Your Kids About Trump’s ‘Golden Shower’ Fiasco

donald trump

I remember when people used to not want to read the news because it was boring.

A friend of mine recently posted a question on Facebook that I thought we should bring up for general discussion here on Kveller. She wrote, “Serious question for fellow parents of tweens/young teens: are you doing anything to shield them from the “inappropriate” aspects of the latest news? My 13-year-old reads the Times on his phone and is understandably curious about what’s in the dossier. He knows he can read it himself on Buzzfeed. I told him I didn’t want him to, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he did it anyway. What, if anything, are you telling your kids about this stuff?”

It’s a good and worthwhile question. Back in the 1990s, I’m sure many parents were faced with having to discuss oral sex with their too-young children, thanks to goings on in the Oval Office between then-President Clinton and his intern. Now, that all seems somewhat quaint—both the idea that oral sex was shocking, and because things have recently gotten much, much more graphic and awkward.

To be clear, I really don’t think it’s necessary to talk about “golden showers” with your young child. But when it comes to teens and tweens, I think it becomes somewhat necessary to be more upfront than you might like, due to the age in which we live.

Back in the ‘90s, a person had to turn on a TV or pick up a paper to find out the news. Today, however, if your tween or teen has a screen of their own—phone, iPad, or computer—the news stories of the day are being thrown in their face. If your tween or teen doesn’t have one, their best friend does. And while details about Russian hacking, UN Security Council votes, and confirmation hearings may escape their notice, chances are that anything sexual is going to be the first thing that grabs their attention.

If my 11- or 13-year-old were to bring up the most recent BuzzFeed story and ask me what the gist was, I would simply respond that there was a question of whether the Russians had information with which they might be able to blackmail President-elect Trump. The question, of course, is whether they would follow that conversation to its natural conclusion, and how to handle it when and if it gets there. My guess is that they would and will. And the second question in our digital age is, to what extent are parents supposed to be proactive, and what extent reactive?

“So if he is going to learn about golden showers anyway, he may as well hear about it from me? I guess that has to be the conclusion,” my friend wrote to me via FB Messenger. My fingers lingered on the keys; I couldn’t even think of how to respond. I mean, sure, I guess she was right on a certain level. But then I imagined my sons coming off the bus from school, going into the refrigerator to get a snack, and me saying something faux-casual like, “So…not sure if you guys have seen the news lately, but do you know what a ‘golden shower’ is?”

Not to be too cute about it, but I’m pissed (see what I did there? Ugh.). Because honestly, I don’t really want to talk about semi-esoteric sexual fetishes with my 11- and 13-year-old boys. Discussions about standard puberty stuff are awkward enough—by which, to make it clear, I mean that I work very hard to make them as un-awkward as possible. To me, it’s very important to convey to these kids that we are just talking about body parts and it is no big deal, even though, of course, it feels like a huge big deal when you’re going through it (or, conversely, when you aren’t). But I think we have to move past being pissed and move toward being proactive.

As usual, I would say that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to being a parent. You know your kids. I think it is worthwhile, though, to wade into the conversational waters (I’m sorry, that one was by accident) by first gauging how much your kids have heard/seen, whether online or from their peers. Some discussions are more necessary than others, and age and individual maturity should both be the governing determinants as to what to discuss and how.

The key takeaway from discussions like these should be that you, as their parent, are accessible and open to them—that you are a trusted source of not-fake-news. In our society, it’s no longer really an option to “shield” our children (or, in this particular case, perhaps also our own parents!) from the news of the day. As a result, we become obligated as parents to discuss things sooner than we might like—but to do so in a loving way that respects our individual child’s age and capacity to understand. To me, that means doing so in a way that considers the multifaceted ramifications of issues—looking at topics from many angles and trying to model compassion.

There will be awkward questions and there will be awkward answers. But I think the main point is to make it clear to your child that their questions, whatever they are, can always come home.


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