Real Talk: Parenting Through Tough Conversations

January 17, 2024

Welcome to Real Talk with Susan and Kristina! In this episode, we’ll dive into the importance of addressing uncomfortable topics with your children. Join us as we explore why these difficult conversations are crucial for your child’s well-being and navigating life’s challenges. Gain practical tips on addressing sensitive subjects, fostering open communication, and dive into real-life situations drawn from our cases and personal experiences with our own children.



Susan Stone: Welcome back to Real Talk with Susan Stone and Kristina super. We are full time moms and attorneys bringing our student defense legal practice to life with real candid conversations.

Susan Stone: Okay. This is Martin Luther King Day, and we’re in our new studio. What do you think about our new digs? Miss Supluar.

Kristina Supler: I like it. Fix some adjustment. But I. I actually. I think it’s nice. It’s cozy. It’s more intimate.

Susan Stone: that is interesting. Well, hopefully not as interesting as our topic today, which is parenting through tough conversation. Anything recent you want to share from the old simpler house?

Kristina Supler: Funny you should ask. So recently we had a little tough conversation parenting moment in my household with my daughter and some Netflix content. Let me tell you, these these parent settings and these accounts, number one parent listeners out there, if you don’t know how to do that and check for content and age-appropriate restrictions, please do so.

Very important because if you don’t, your child has unfettered access to everything, and I learned that on Netflix. If you don’t put on like parental controls and kids are watching like they can access NC 17 material, there’s some steamy stuff on there.

Susan Stone: You know what? I had no idea, but I want to know where to find that steamy material. (Laughing) Kidding

Kristina Supler: After a long day of work, Susan’s going home and firing up the Netflix.

Susan Stone:  But my kids are older, so I don’t have to worry about it.

Kristina Supler: So, you can do that. That’s right. That’s right. But yes, there are these settings. Make sure you have you know, how they work, and they’re turned on and fired up and good to go. But so, it was brought to my attention by, I’ll just say, a family member

Susan Stone: a family member

Kristina Supler: that said, hey, you might want to give an eye towards, you know, what your daughter’s looking at. And I said, my gosh, thank you for telling me. Because I think it’s important to not always say, my child would never do that. You have to sort of be open to the possibility of your kid doing anything.

Susan Stone: Well, Supler considering you are a coauthor on a book saying, yes, your kid, it would be slightly hypocritical if you didn’t think your own kid could do something.

Kristina Supler: Indeed, indeed. And to our listeners out there, check out. Yes, your kid available at all. Booksellers

Susan Stone: I did not mean for that to be a plug.

Kristina Supler: no no.

Susan Stone: But I was topical.

Kristina Supler: I had to seize the moment. So at any rate, I said, Well, let me do some digging and you know, you like to call me investigators Suplar

Susan Stone: Oh my gosh.For the listeners out there, nobody and I mean nobody can get to the bottom of different facts. Like my law partner Kristina Suplesr. So, what did you do?

Kristina Supler: Well, so I start doing a little a little digging just late light investigation. Let’s say I call my husband and loop him in to what’s before us. I get his thoughts.

And I was like, you know, before before having that parent child moment, I want to get my own facts right so that I know. So I sort of like a little, I want to say test, but I suppose it is test like is my is my when I confront my daughter, will she be truthful with me or not?

So that you know, I know where to go with the conversation. So we did some investigating and digging that my husband got all in on it and like for hours were testing iteration of what you can and can’t do with these shows and what record shows up in this and that. Just to know, you know, what what actually happened, it is best we could. Of course. And it was interesting because my daughter eventually had a conversation. She said, Mom, I wasn’t watching those shows.

Susan Stone: And is it true?

Kristina Supler:  I went through that viewing history up, down, left and right. You can download spreadsheets. We did all these simulated tests and delete history.

Susan Stone: Tacky for me, way too tacky.

Kristina Supler: The shows weren’t there, so I don’t know if look, we don’t know what happened and who did what, but what I do know is that I saw no evidence that my daughter did what she was accused of doing.

Susan Stone: So, Not your kid,

Kristina Supler:  not my kid, fortunately. But that is not to say that it could never be my child. And I actually think you and I are both like very real about that possibility. That notwithstanding what we do for a living in conversations we have at home, things still happen.

Susan Stone: Yeah, we have difficult conversations with our clients every day.

Kristina Supler: Every day.

Susan Stone: And it is a skill.

Kristina Supler:  absolutely. And I would say it’s a skill that requires cultivation and over time it’s a skill you improve with experience, which is true of most things, but tough conversations, it’s you get better at having them, but they don’t ever really get easier

Susan Stone:  It’s not fun. But here’s the deal. In today’s day and age, what we’re finding is that having tough conversations with your kids is more important.

And at the same time, we’re seeing a lot of conflict avoidance and it’s creating bigger issues.

Kristina Supler: I totally agree. I totally agree. And I will tell you, from our perspective as lawyers, of course, we want to help all of our clients and get the best outcome possible. But, you know, success. We arrest a lot. What’s your success rate?

And we sort of often say, well, you know, it’s relative because every case is different. And the reality is, is that you can’t always have a perfect outcome in every case. But the cases that hurt the most are the ones where we look at each other and we’re like, this didn’t have to happen this way.

Susan Stone: I agree. And when we talk to parents about why, why have the tough conversation? Because let’s face it, nobody likes to confront their kid. Nobody wants to cause an argument.

Kristina Supler: No.

Susan Stone:  it’s a fight.

Kristina Supler: No, you want to have nice, fun conversations about what are you getting for dinner and what’s going on at school. But the reality is these tough conversations are so important because really, at any age, they’re essential for helping, I think, keep your child safe, even when your child’s a young adult.

Susan Stone: What I find is even when you’re getting pushback from a particular child, they still hear you.

Kristina Supler: Oh absolutely. I totally agree. I totally agree. They hear you. And I think there’s also just a component of sort of communicating to your child that you care and, you know, whether it’s just that you want to see the best for them in all ways and it’s okay to make mistakes.

It’s okay to be curious, but you just have to be smart about the choices you’re making here.

Susan Stone:  You know what? Kids need to know where their parents stand on issues.

Kristina Supler: I totally agree. I totally agree. And, you know, that’s a tough one in this day and age, because I think that, you know, we’re in a country that’s so divided and there’s all these political issues, cultural issues, religious issues.I mean, you name it every day. There’s some like very hot ticket controversial thing on the news. But I think it’s so important as our children are being, you know, bombarded with content from tick tock and who knows where else that they know what their parents think that they know. You’re like my mom and dad say that’s important or my mom and dad or say that that’s really dangerous, that it’s just giving some structure to your kids.

Susan Stone: Talk about how to have a conversation, because you know what we know how students behave when confronted and we’re not going to sell you the bull, that it’s going to go swimming. This isn’t a sitcom. Life is not a sitcom. So you might have pushback. You may have a temper tantrum. I’ve heard even of situations where things have gotten physical between parent and child. Things can go really wrong.

Kristina Supler: Oh I believe it.

Susan Stone:  Yeah,

Kristina Supler: I believe it. Especially with teens. And when there’s hormones and angst and rage about life being unfair, I absolutely.

Susan Stone: So, when you’re going to have a conversation. I think first time in place.

Kristina Supler: Yes. So what what do you think? What are your preferred times and places?

Susan Stone: It’s hard. I at first thing, I’m a working mom,

Kristina Supler: Mhmmm

Susan Stone: so I can’t do after school. That’s not realistic for me.

Kristina Supler:  Right.

Susan Stone:  Ideally, that really is the best time, right when they get home from school.

Kristina Supler: Well, depending on age though, I don’t know if your kids are younger. If they’re older, they probably have sports or job or other stuff after school. But I hear you.

Susan Stone: I like where they’re a captive audience. So ideally, again, the car is a great place because where are they going to go?

Kristina Supler: I agree with that. The car is a great place. We I drive my kids to school in the morning and sometimes it’s a good opportunity for a quick check in the short drive, but a quick check in

Susan Stone: and nothing wrong with that. But again, I now have older kids. Well, my I have two grown kids and one left, but so I don’t really get the ones they start driving. You’re not going to get more. I think at night you just pop in their room, knock on the door, come in and you have to dive, dig in. And and it’s got to be organic sometimes, too, as things come up that you hear about, whether it’s bullying or peer pressure, drugs, mental health, sexting, I mean, that topics are endless.

Kristina Supler: So let’s do a hypothetical.

Susan Stone:  Sure.

Kristina Supler: You get a question? Yeah. There’s there’s buzz about sexting in your child’s school. Let’s keep this high school. You’re hearing rumors from other parents, maybe like, I don’t know, some online parent group, because actually I learn a lot in those parent groups online. And there’s talk about nude images going around the school. Would you bring that up? And like, how would you go about having a conversation to make sure that it’s understood that sexting is a no no?

Susan Stone: Well, that could be brought up at the dinner table because that’s a general conversation. I don’t consider that a difficult conversation just because it’s a racy topic like vaping or marijuana use. To me, that’s not difficult to recognize that I’m a little different when I think of a difficult conversation. I think you are confronting your child about something

Kristina Supler: Mhmmm

Susan : you suspect they’re doing. Yeah, general topics are important and hopefully can pave the way to not have a difficult conversation. But a difficult conversation is I think you’re drinking with your friend. That’s a difficult conversation.

Kristina Supler: Yeah. I mean, I’m. I’m not sure I totally agree with you, because I would say that you and I, given what we do for a living, are pretty comfortable in Converse. And are these types of issues, right, Like social media, drugs, sex, bullying, cancel culture. I could go on and on, but I think for a lot of families, I mean, the thought of having a conversation, much less at dinner with everyone there about nude images, I think a lot of parents find that incredibly difficult. And I think that’s why we see so much of what we see in terms of families not understanding repercussions, kids not understanding repercussions, and parents wanting to talk to their kids about it, but they just don’t quite know how.

Susan Stone: or I’ll tell you. What’s a difficult conversation When kids get sloppy with their homework, and you get those alerts? I remember,

Kristina Supler: oh yeah,

Susan Stone:  when one of my children, it used to be and Il remember being at work and getting an alert that they didn’t turn in homework and it would make me not like, why didn’t you turn in your homework? How hard is it? You do it, you put it in your book bag or you you turn it in. I guess they don’t do that anymore. You do.

Kristina Supler: You upload it. Whatever,

Susan Stone: and do your homework. This is your job. And while the job of someone in school is to do the homework.

Kristina Supler:Yeah. Yeah. Well. And see that I would say is an easy conversation. It’s a frustrating conversation. Certainly, but not one that’s necessarily that embarrassing or involves using body part words or something super incriminating. But I don’t know let’s so the sexting you thought that was easy That wasn’t a hard one in your house?

Susan Stone: because also there’s been a lot of education at my kids school about sexting and they all know about predators. And I think there’s just a lot more awareness.

Kristina Supler:so how would you let’s just say like, let’s go with a low hanging fruit for what I would say. You know, most teenagers, drugs and alcohol, you’re worried that your child may be experimenting with one or both and you want to, you know, have that confrontation in a, I don’t know, firm but loving way. What are your thoughts on like how to has lean into that conversation with your child?

Susan Stone: First, of all I’m a lot like you in the sense that I do a lot of snooping and just want you to know there’s no right to privacy in my home.

Kristina Supler: Totally agree. Totally agree. And I mean, I think it’s important to, you know, let your kids know that once in a while you might be looking at their stuff or in our house.The rule is that we have to have all passcodes. And if we don’t, the devices are gone. Because I’m very pro snooping. I think it’s an essential part of parenting.

Susan Stone: Yeah. So I don’t understand. I mean, occasionally you have to go into the bedroom and look around.

Kristina Supler: Well, and I’m going to I’m going to say something that’s perhaps controversial.Yes. Children and parents are not equal.

Susan Stone: Whoa!

Kristina Supler: at the risk of sounding old fashioned, I’m going to say my house, my pocketbook, my rules. And so I yeah, I think that look, I think it’s an interesting theoretical conversation to talk about, you know, kids and their right to privacy. But in my mind, the reality is if you have questions or concerns or doubts, look at the device.I think it will go through the bedroom. I don’t see a problem with that. I don’t

Susan Stone:  Now. It’s funny. My number two, when I went out of town, threw a party.

Kristina Supler: Mhmmm Haven’t we all.

Susan Stone: Oh my gosh. It it was devastating to learn about.

Kristina Supler: Sure  And how did you find out about it?

Susan Stone:  Oh my sister found out.

Kristina Supler: No. How did she find out? Did she drive by the house?

Susan Stone: She drove by the house.

Kristina Supler:Ahhhh

Susan Stone: I know she kicked the party out.

Kristina Supler:The kids weren’t smart enough to, like, park around the corner or down the street.

Susan Stone: There were too many. Too many.

Kristina Supler:Oh my gosh.

Susan Stone: I was not calm during that. So I have to say, sometimes I have failed during difficult conversations.

I’ve raised my voice and I’ve become a raging, screaming lunatic. Yeah, I’m a yeller.

Kristina Supler: I think we all have no judgment. No judgment

Susan Stone:  in a perfect world. You know, we were looking at an article preparing today from Psychology Today. I love this.

Kristina Supler:Lay on me. What you got?

Susan Stone:  It says, stay calm.

Kristina Supler:Oh okay, Sure.

Susan Stone: Stay calm. Help your child feel safe.

Kristina Supler: Okay.

Susan Stone: I think none I lost my shit.

Kristina Supler: Sure.

Susan Stone: Okay. I did. I lost it.

Kristina Supler: It happens.

Susan Stone: Yeah, sometimes it does happen. And you know what? When you do lose it, it’s okay later to apologize for that. 

Kristina Supler: I agree with that as well. I in I myself have been in that position where maybe I didn’t handle things as well as I would have liked to.And I totally think it’s important and I think it’s setting a really good example for your kids to go back, you know, maybe an hour or so later, maybe longer days, perhaps after the dust settles and just say, look, you know, I thought about our conversation and, you know, I’m sorry that I raised my voice, said, you know, fill in the blank.

But I want you to know I love you no matter what. And you know, I was wrong. I think it’s I don’t know. I think it’s important for your kids to see you admit fault, too. You know, I think it helps sort of teach them the importance of apologizing. We’re not perfect and being thoughtful and maybe not writing people off right away to when they say something you don’t agree with

Susan Stone: It kind of goes with the job. On the other hand, it’s okay to walk out of the house, go to yoga, run around the block and do what you need to do to regroup, because raising teenagers can be really, really, really difficult. You have to have the conversation, you know, want. I feel bad sometimes when you and I having the conversation.

Kristina Supler: Oh yeah. I mean, just circling back to something I said earlier, Kids make mistakes. People we all make mistakes. And, you know, often it’s mistakes that brings families to us in moments of crisis. But the really the heartbreaking ones are when we think, oh my gosh, if only there was a conversation about, I don’t know, rough sex. We deal with that a lot. You know, having that conversation with your child about the dangers of choking and strangulation and just because everyone else is doing it, you know, what are the implications? In our title nine cases, we see that a lot.

Susan Stone: Well, we talk a lot about that in the book and actually the genesis for the book.But choking parents out there, you all need to tell your kids Cut that out, that no choking, choking, equal bad. Now, for parents, they all think, my kids wouldn’t do that. And again, this is all in the book, but that is an important conversation to have. Don’t choke. But things have changed from when I grew up because, I mean, my mother didn’t have to tell me, don’t let anyone choke you and don’t choke others.

Kristina Supler: Oh having that that mental picture in my head right now, Having met Susan’s mother, I’d love to envision this conversation.

Susan Stone: My mom was like, don’t get pregnant.

Kristina Supler: Sure. Sure. And I think that that’s, by and large, the conversation in my house as well. We’re different generations, but it was still sort of that construct that, you know, the worst thing that could possibly happen or that could, you know, go wrong was unplanned pregnancy.

Susan Stone: and become a pothead. That was a big one.

Kristina Supler:Sure. Yeah.

Susan Stone: But parents today, the stakes are higher with fentanyl I really cannot make it. Yeah, I remember we did a podcast with Birdie light.

Kristina Supler: Yeah, yeah. That organization that is promoting education about that the fentanyl test strips super important thing to be aware of. So let me ask you this. You’re trying to have that conversation and your your child is walking away saying, Mom, stop, I know this.

Oh my gosh, leave me alone.

Susan Stone: That’s okay.

Kristina Supler: What do you do? Do you leave him alone?

Susan Stone: Yeah. What are you going to do? Follow him in the room screaming like a lunatic? No, it’s okay. They hear you.

Kristina Supler: Well, that’s what I think as well. And again, I mean, our kids are different ages, but I do think that at all ages, kids are listening. They’re like little sponges absorbing. And, you know, even if they pick up a little shred of what you’re trying to instill in them, I think it you know, something will land and hopefully achieve the, you know, intended effect.

Susan Stone:  I do want to kind of recap and conclude one thing. Just because you have a conversation, you we’re not God.Okay. As parents, 

Kristina Supler:what do you mean by that?

Susan Stone: Meaning you can’t necessarily stop something from happening.

Kristina Supler: Sure. Right.

Susan Stone: It can happen with the conversation. It can happen without a conversation. But at least if you’re done your level best. It will help later with parental guilt. At least you can say I tried, man.

Kristina Supler: Yeah, parental guilt. That’s an interesting one, because I experience it personally.I think we come across it in our jobs every day. And, yeah, I think that, you know, my goal is to not parent for, for my own selfish purposes, like, so that I don’t feel guilt. But at the end of the day, let’s be honest, life is hard, Life is unpredictable. We can’t protect our kids from everything. And so hopefully we can at least arm our kids with information to make good choices.

Susan Stone: I’ll tell you what wouldn’t you as parents wouldn’t rather have the difficult conversation that have to hire two lawyers who are a complete stranger, be the first ones to talk to students about the fact you’re doing too much,

Kristina Supler: you’re engaging in dangerous sexual behaviors. Your putting yourself in a bad situation at school with cheating.

Susan Stone: cheating. Yeah, right in battle. And, you know, don’t use that chatGPT.

Kristina Supler: Oh, but It’s so it’s just there and it just spits it out beautifully.

Susan Stone: Oh, yeah It’s a ticket out of college, you know that

Kristina Supler: Sure is. Sure is.

 Susan Stone: Okay. I think we’ve covered it. What do you think?

Kristina Supler: Yeah, this has been a good conversation. I hope our listeners, all of you parents out there, I hope you’ve enjoyed it and we’ve given you some food for thought and we welcome your feedback as well.Thanks for joining us.

Thanks for listening to Real Talk with Susan and Kristina. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to our show so you never miss an episode and leave us a review so other people can find the content we share here. You can follow us on Instagram. Just search our handle at Stones Supler and for more resources, visit us online at Student

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