Aids is no longer the hot topic of discussion the way it was several years ago but that doesn’t mean it’s a subject that can be ignored when it comes to your responsibilities as a parent. Therefore there is no denying it, you must find a way to discuss Aids with your kids, especially your adolescents.
I know that if you are like most parents, the not so pleasant task of discussing sexual transmitted diseases is most likely not within your comfort zone of topics to talk about with your children, especially when it comes to such a difficult and scary subject as AIDS.
However, it really isn’t as scary as it first appears, which you will soon discover upon approaching your kids with the subject of Aids. You see the fact is, kids are very much aware of this disease already. They have often heard adults at home discussing AIDS and even while visiting with friends. Why even teachers talk about it at school.
And yes of course, there are the ads and programs on the television and radio and lets not forget the magazines lining the checkout lanes at the local grocery stores that children are often exposed to. You know the ones I’m talking about here… The ones promoting programs and donations to help those people who have AIDS and the ones discussing who has AIDS.
Your children and their friends are also talking about AIDS back and forth amongst each other trying to make sense of everything they’re hearing. And here in lies the problem.
Children are trying to help children make sense of what they are hearing about AIDS. (Read that sentence again!) This is the reason you as parents need to step up to the plate and give them the correct information and listen to their concerns.
Yes, your children do know that AIDS can be very dangerous and that people with this disease do indeed die. But because your children may not know exactly where AIDS comes from or how people get it, or whether they can get it, they are totally baffled by this mystifying disease. And because of all of this they are probably very scared of it as well.
When you do decide to talk with your own child about AIDS, you will have the difficult task of making sure that you only present the most up to date, factual and accurate information without making him/her unnecessarily frightened. So be sure to do your homework on the subject first.
Because young children are much less likely to get this disease, you can feel comfortable reassuring your child that he/she will not likely be exposed to AIDS. But if your children are teens then by all means stress the importance of this subject for their own health and well-being.
Regardless, keep in mind that open communication will help to ensure that your child is forming an accurate and realistic concept of AIDS.
Now, on to the discussion with your child.
First, ask what your child knows about Aids and then listen closely to everything your son or daughter has to say. Of course some of the information that they tells you will be false, but it gives you a chance to set them straight with the facts about AIDS.
Which is now your next step…
Give your child age appropriate factual information on AIDS.
Explain to your children that they won’t get AIDS from someone with the disease by just being in the same room with them or even playing with them because it’s much more difficult to contract then things like the flu or a cold.
For example, you might say “People who have AIDS disease sometimes pass the disease from their blood to other people’s blood.”
If your child is old enough to understand sex then be sure to explain to them that AIDS is passed mainly through sex and by drug users who use other people’s needles. Let them know that doctors have to check the blood in order to find out if a person has AIDS. And make sure they understand that there are precautions that people can take in order to never get this disease.
Now, it’s time to allow your child to ask as many questions as he/she can think of about AIDS. And if you don’t have full answers to some of their questions tell them you will do some research and get back to them with the correct information.
This open discussion with your son or daughter about AIDS, will help them feel less concerned about the disease and reassure them that they can come to you with any future concerns they have not only about AIDS but also concerns they have on other difficult subjects as well.
It’s also a good idea to make subjects such as sex, diseases, growing up, etc. a part of ongoing weekly family meetings that are open to general family discussions as well. And you will find that by holding these family meetings you will be forming a trusting bond for future subjects between child and parent that may otherwise be uncomfortable or even taboo to discuss.
So now that you have tackled this difficult subject of AIDS just think of the things you might be discussing with your children next week. The possibilities are endless.