Because of this open dialogue around the dinner table, we have had what many people would call 'difficult' conversations with our children as they have discovered the truths and at times the ugly realities about the world, but we pride ourselves for never lying to them or hiding an unpleasant truth from them, and they have both turned out to be pretty well rounded and open minded individuals as a result of this.
Both of my children knew the truth about their body parts, how lives are created and that some people are 'not quite right in the head' well before they even arrived at primary school. And before they left primary school they also knew about war, religion, genocide, enlightenment, rape, cults, incest, racism, paedophilia, discrimination, poverty, mental illness, hate crimes and all forms of artistic, spiritual and sexual expression. Neither of them have become unbalanced by any of this information, and neither of them now struggle to understand the complexities of the world. The truth about the world did not fuck them up or steal their innocence and they both had really normal happy childhoods. In fact, growing up they didn't have nearly as many troubles as their peers when it came to managing social situations or complicated issues and have always had a strong sense of social justice and ethical behaviour as a result of their developed global understanding.
I worked hard to cultivate a mindset in my children 'that nothing is too big to tell, or too awkward to ask about.' And yes, it has lead to some 'hot' discussion and even some disagreements over the years (because with an open forum people will tend to debate and defend their formed opinions) but it has also meant that my children are always willing to talk to me, really talk to me. If something is going on they will always tell us about it and if something is happened that they don't understand or need clarification about, they will ask. And the conversation is still very lively around our dinner table and although we sometimes hit the hard topics, generally we share many relaxed and casual meals where the order of the day is much laughter and silliness.
I am in no way saying that open-conversation is going to fly smoothly at everyone's dinner table, but having room for opinion and the comfort to ask questions is certainly not a bad thing to generate in any family. Being able to talk about anything, even the really tough stuff has certainly brought us closer together as a family and my kids have always been grateful for the honesty that they have received from us whilst they were in their formative years.
I have never been able to think of a good reason to hide things from my children or to lie to them and I have never wanted to cultivate a relationship with my children that was steeped in deception or mistrust. I often wonder when I hear adults say that their children aren't ready to hear the truths about the world if it is just because they as adults aren't ready to deal with all of the ugliness themselves. All that I know for sure from my own experiences, is that nurturing a home where secrets are supported and lies necessitated will only lead to bitter resentments, disappointments and painful truths later on in life, and we all want a lot less of that for our children in the long run.
Release Date: 2018
Rating: MA 15+
Running Time: 114 mins
An American drama written and directed by Jennifer Fox and based on her memoirs about her own childhood sexual abuse and how it affected her relationships later in life. After premiering at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, The Tale went straight to television and aired on HBO in May, 2018.
Jennifer, now a successful adult, receives an alarming call from her mother who has just discovered an essay that Jennifer wrote when she was 13. The essay outlines an illicit and inappropriate relationship that she had with two adults from her childhood. Keen to uncover the truth herself, Jennifer delves back into her past and the murky events surrounding the summer that she spent at an intensive horse riding camp with her enigmatic teacher Mrs G and their professional coach Bill.
The Tale tackles a challenging, ugly and sensitive subject with a lot of grace and realism, and for that reason it is tremendously powerful and utterly disturbing at the same time. Laura Dern is incredible as adult Jennifer and Isabelle Nelisse gives a striking and memorable performance as 13 year old Jennifer. They are well supported by John Heard, Ellen Burstyn, Francis Conroy and Elizabeth Debicki who all deliver perfectly on this sickening tale of lost innocence and child exploitation.
FINAL SAY: When I was a child, I was obsessed with changing myself.
4 Chilli Peppers