We’re all human - awkward, weird, flawed animals trying to make sense of this world. We see this every day in our households as our families go about their busy lives. From the time we’re teaching our children how to use the bathroom to the age when we’re teaching them about love, sex, and death, life is full of awkward truths and situations. That’s one of the things that draws us together.
For people who follow the standard model of modern life - going to college, starting a career, falling in love, starting a family, buying a house (not necessarily in that order) - it can be difficult to navigate these awkward issues. However, part of being in a family is being truthful with each other and doing the right thing, no matter what.
This post tackles a few of these awkward family (or relationship) issues and how to navigate them gracefully and productively.
Bedroom issues…keeping your marriage spicy
In any relationship, romance is critically important. Once you have kids and the stress of life builds to a breaking point, it can be hard to keep things exciting in the bedroom. And it can be awkward to broach this subject, too.
For example, approximately 40 million men in America experience erectile dysfunction, which can greatly impact romantic relationships and marriages if you don’t talk about or address the issue. People often ask, “What causes erectile dysfunction?” The answer is complex, ranging from diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, and prostate cancer to high cholesterol and nerve and brain disorders. If erectile dysfunction (ED) is a problem in your bedroom, there’s no reason for embarrassment, shame, or awkward conversations - it’s simply a medical condition that can be dealt with and treated.
ED is only one of many issues and factors that can affect the love life of a married couple. Especially once kids are in the mix, it can be difficult to reignite the passion that brought you together in the first place. Keep the communication channels open and work the problem.
‘The Talk’….Getting Real About the Birds and the Bees
While we’re on the topic of the bedroom, another awkward family conversation that presents itself to you once you have kids is….’the Talk.’ That’s right, the conversation you have with your kids when you first introduce them to and explain the meaning of sex. While this ‘talk’ should actually be a series of conversations that progress over the course of years, it typically starts from an early age.
Most child psychologists and health experts break it down into phases of development. From the ages of 3-5, you will probably already be discussing their curiosity and exploring the differences between boys and girls. At the age of 6-8, you will likely want to discuss the concept of sexual reproduction and privacy. Then, at the age of 9-12, you will need to have frank conversations about puberty and preteen development. From 13 to 18, you will need to have responsible and honest conversations about relationships and adolescent hormones.
This timeline could change for different kids and will vary between boys and girls, but the important thing is that kids are introduced to these concepts and simultaneously guided through the gauntlet of their own changing bodies.
Political disagreements among extended families and in-laws
This country has never been so divided politically and this can become an awkward, sometimes even contentious issue, especially around the holidays. Generally speaking, humans have always had political differences and probably always will. It’s important to let people express themselves and to respect their views as much as possible.
At the same time, during family gatherings in which you already know there are many different contrasting and tense differences, it’s probably best to agree to table these conversations for the betterment of the group.
This doesn’t mean you should censor yourself or interrupt people. Politics and government policies often arise in conversation naturally. But it’s not worth fragmenting your family over a political issue. Just agree to disagree and move on. Your kids will thank you.