Bathroom conversations: how we found my child’s safe space, and you can too

Some of you might have seen where I posted this video about me and my daughter talking about Good touch, bad touch. We are in the bathroom and the camera is on me while me and Naima-Kourtnae, aged 7, are talking.

What you do not see is that I am sitting on her old potty, something which we have been doing for years. This time is a safe space to open up and talk and it all happened organically. She used to just call me to stay in the bathroom with her and I used to roll my eyes and ask her why she needed company to handle her business LOL. Eventually, we relax and chill, and end up talking about whatever it is that she might want to talk about. It has served us well, especially considering how it’s become increasingly difficult to create time for conversations because of the growing demand of extras, homework, projects etc.

We have the car, and then there is the family dining table, but for me I find that the bathroom is where I can give her undivided attention. Our children are often so inundated with activities and for them to have space to just be with us, and for us as parents to catch up with them, it is powerful.

Find a safe space to be open

So yes, other people on Instagram might have a studio, I have a bathroom! But the reaction I have gotten so far from parents, I just cannot believe – it has left me overwhelmed with emotion, and it is not just women. Almost half of the people who follow me are men. Some of the responses are things like ‘You are helping me be a better father’ or ‘I have a baby coming and this makes me feel more confident, or ‘Thank you for giving me an idea of how I can approach sensitive topics’.

I am loving hearing that parents are using the video to be able to start conversations with their own children. Some words or phrases they used differently, some had to go deeper, and some use it as the opener to their conversations: like one mother played the video to her child, and then started to speak.

My personality is a communicator, and I come from a  family that encouraged me to express and discuss. In speaking to children  – whether it is going into women’s centres, and even working with UNICEF – I have always noticed that   they are often afraid to speak to their parents. This fear goes the other way too.

Parents must get comfortable first

Since the video, I am getting feedback from parents – everyone from managers to a gas pump attendant – who tell me they feel more confident in their approach to tackle sensitive issues. Sometimes we know that we need to talk, but maybe fear the age of the child, that they are too young. What this stems from is our own discomfort that we were taught – and that is a cycle which puts our children at risk.

Chatting with the attendant, I told her that ideally I do not want to have to have certain conversations with my daughter – I mean we both would love to just  talk about princesses and slime! But it would be crazy and irresponsible of me not to take this responsibility into my own hands and empower my child about her rights.

I am seeing the results of this effort, because Naima-Kourtnae never has to question if I will believe, and so she does not lie. She knows that the truth is a “Get out of jail free card”, and it is a win-win for both of us. We parents have to be able to tell our children ‘we love you and are willing to support and defend you’. We have to reinforce that if anybody takes advantage of you it is not your fault and that you did nothing wrong. Children can die inside from guilt when they are the victims, because they feel we will not believe them.

About time with our children

This time together is not only about serious topics, this is about time with our children. I realise the importance of this every time I post something about our interactions, as I get feedback. For example, parents who once used to think projects with kids were tedious, but then wanted to try when they see the fun we have, and then message me their super-proud results.

Something we learned too is that you cannot have a platform to educate on parenting without a child being involved! Naima-Kourtnae being exposed in such a way is something we talk about, a lot actually, and we do it only as this educational tool. She is quite aware of how she might be helping in teaching adults in this way and this gives her confidence.

When people thank her, Naima-Kourtnae is receptive and will say something cheeky, but politely, like ‘glad to be of service’ or ‘it’s important to know this kind of stuff’. It’s been a great journey as mother and daughter learning together through these conversations, and all we hope is that our experience can inspire other parents and their children to bond.

 

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