As far as teaching her own children about personal safety, such as determining who is a stranger vs. a safe person, Smart—relaying the best advice she’s received—suggested that the best time to start talking about a potentially tough subject is when the kids start asking questions.
“Maybe you can’t talk about it right that very second,” she said, “but you can say, ‘This is a really important conversation and I’d like to talk about it, can we talk this evening?’ Or in the morning, or whenever—just not five years down the road. You should be talking about it in the present or the immediate future.”
Noting that the gap between 4 and 7 years old is vast, Smart said she’s also been teaching the increasingly curious Chloe, her eldest, “not to have shame about her body.” And “this cannot be a onetime conversation,” she noted. “This needs to be an ongoing conversation with her as she grows. It should be a conversation that both parents are having with a child so that your child knows that it is equally important to both of you, and that it’s safe to talk to either one of you—or both of you!”
And even though Chloe’s the one asking the questions, “she usually rolls her eyes when I start talking about it again,” Smart said, “and then she’s like, ‘I know, mom. I know.'”
Her children may not really understand the origins of their mom’s hard-fought wisdom just yet, but Smart takes everything she’s experienced into consideration when it comes to her outlook on life: That it’s beautiful and worth living to the fullest.
“I think it is easy to feel down about the world,” Smart said. “You turn on the news, good heavens, there’s a million bad things happening every day.” But, she added, “average, good, everyday people absolutely make such a huge impact. And I have seen so much good. I see so much good.”