Free Parenting Advice: Talking to Your Kids About Tough Topics

Rebecca Cardwell doesn’t have kids, but she’ll tell you how to raise yours.

Illustration by Patrick Dean

Because many of my friends are parents, I know how excruciating it can be to talk to children, especially when it comes to subjects of a sensitive nature. That is why I’m offering this list of ways you can broach various mature-themed topics with your child, without having the conversation carry on for longer than absolutely necessary. Consider it a gift, from one very concerned non-parent, to another, not-as-concerned actual parent.


Talking to your kids about drugs is easier than you think. In fact, provided you have the necessary props on hand, you really don’t need to say anything.

First, wait until your child is at an age where he — I say he only because I find girls to be too high maintenance — understands terms like “smack,” “oxycontin,” and “Jonesing for my next fix.” I’m thinking sometime just after his fourth birthday would be ideal.

Go to the kitchen, and over medium heat, warm a small amount of butter in an eight-inch skillet. Once it starts to sizzle, grab an egg from the fridge.

Point to the egg and then point to your son’s head, giving him a look as if to say “This is your brain.” Now make a big presentation of cracking said egg on the counter, emptying the contents into the pan.

Feel free to ask him if he has any questions, but don’t worry if he doesn’t. Unless he’s developmentally-delayed, he’ll get it.


Grab another egg from the fridge.

Only this time, instead of cracking it into a pan, grab a felt marker and draw a sad, hungry-looking face on it.

Once you’ve wrapped him — again, a boy — in a gender-appropriate dishtowel, gently place him in a kleenex-box-turned-baby-crib and introduce the egg to his new father.


Personally, I find this conversation works best with gimmicks. Like the Ginsu knife set from those As Seen On TV commercials. Or the entire first season of Jersey Shore on DVD. For added emphasis you might want to dress up like Snooki. Your call.

The Stock Market Crash of 1929

The best way to explain this would be to do a dramatic re-enactment.

The play should be set in New Orleans, 1922. The opening scene taking place in a speakeasy, where a bunch of flapper girls are standing around the bar, drinking mint juleps while trying to catch the eye of an Al Capone/Bugsy Siegel lookalike. Everyone seems to be having a grand old time. Suddenly the jazz cats start to play and everyone joins in on a loosely choreographed Lindy Hop routine.

During the intermission, have the actors change into dirty burlap sacks. When the curtain finally re-opens, they’ll be crawling around the stage looking destitute.

How to Not Get Scurvy

Turn on your computer and type “How to talk to your kids about not getting scurvy” into Google. You’ll be amazed at how many options will appear.


Take your son to a baseball game. Make sure the teams that are playing are the cream of the baseball crop. For instance, the Boston Red Sox against another really good team that I don’t know because I don’t care about baseball.

When they call half-time, point to the two mascots making their way onto the field and explain to your son that when two people in furry animal costumes love each other, they do certain things to show their love.

Start-Up Costs for a Grow-Op

See “How Not to Get Scurvy.” Only this time, type “Start-up costs for a grow-op.”

How to Perform an Exorcism

The best way to broach this topic would be to rent The Exorcist and let your child watch it. By himself. In the comfort of your dimly lit cellar.

The Vagina Monologues

Explain to your child that despite what you assumed when you first heard about this off-Broadway production, the vaginas aren’t really speaking.

Yeast Infections

Unfortunately, unlike The Vagina Monologues, here the vagina actually is speaking. And while you may not understand what it’s trying to say, you can bet that it isn’t nice.

Keeping Up with the Kardashians

This is a tough one.If I were you, I would just forbid him from watching television.

Illustration by Patrick Dean

Rebecca Cardwell is a writer from Vancouver, and has appeared in McSweeney's, The Rumpus, The Big Jewel, and more. You can find her at just making convo.