Friday, June 12, 2009

The Truth and Nothing But The Truth???????

I have recently "acquired" 2 teenage children in my second marriage. Since my biological children don't pass double digits in age, I have certainly gone through a culture shock of epic proportions. As I take the baby steps with my new teens, my husband on the other hand is quiet used to them. We agree in our upbringing ideals, that being truthful is a priority, but how truthful should we as parents be when it comes to telling our teens about our past? Do we admit all the "experimental dabbles", or is it time to bury those events into the black hole of did & did not, and the have & have not of our subliminal minds?

Any experienced parents out there with opinions on this one?

Have an intimate day!



  1. So the question is - spill the beans or seal the vault. I think it depends. We certainly don't need to schedule a 'coming clean' meeting the moment our child becomes a teen. But sealing the vault seems a little extreme. After all, there might be some great life lessons in those stories. Likewise, a little sharing might strengthen the bond between a teen and a parent. Ultimately, I think the litmus test on any sharing is being reasonably sure that sharing the story would not give the teen some sort of license to go wild.

  2. The most important thing I've learned is that each of us grow from our mistakes and challenges in our lives, and that we use what we've learned to hopefully teach others. So to answer your question, my husband and I do believe that honesty is important and that sharing information about our youth or adulthood, at the appropriate time, is helpful in allowing our children and students to view our mistakes as ones they can learn from and hopefully not make themselves. One thing we've learned from raising two daughters is that each one is unique and special in their own way, along the same lines... each one learns differently and at different rates.

    As parents we want to be fair and just to all of our children; yet sometimes we loose sight that our kids have various interests at various times and we don't need to always share the exact same information or discipline them the same way as each other. For example, when our daughters were young and we tried disciplining the second one the same way as the first child, we quickly discovered that we weren't as successful as we were with the first. This led to lots of discussions between my spouse and I on how to discipline differently. Once we realized that our girls were unique, due to their own personalities and their own experiences, we decided it was ok to treat them differently. Of course this was not limiting the amount of love we shared with them, just the awareness that their individual needs were different.

    When our girls were not old enough to be considering drinking or doing drugs or having sex, we taught them right from wrong, I believe and still hope. But as they got older, we taught them the difference between "no" vs. "know." Both of us believe that even though we were taught right from wrong, we still made poor choices. We wanted our children and students to not just have the words "no" in their vocabulary, but to truly "know" the ramifications of their actions. So "knowing" information about drinking and how it impairs the body can and will affect our perceptions when driving under the influence, allows my child to think about drinking and if they have (even prior to age 21) hopefullythey'll make the choice not to get behind the wheel or in a car with someone else that has been drinking. Same is true for drugs, if they have the power of knowledge and know about all the drugs and what can happen to them while under the influence or how it can affect their bodies or possibly an unborn child they might be carrying- hopefully will allow them to make better choices.

    Pulling these thoughts together we believe that when a child is "ready," which is different depending on the individual, that them hearing first hand some of the stupid things we did is good for them to know. Why? We use it as a lesson, so that they can hopefully learn from our mistakes and possibly not make the same mistakes, just different ones. Sharing these stories also helps them understand that people that make poor or unwise choices aren't necessarily doomed forever and that even some of us turn out to be good people. One of my daughters gets extremely upset over things some of her friends do and it's important that our child knows that if they are with them when their friend chooses to make a poor choice that it can be fatal for her. But at the same time, I want her to also know that people are people and many of us throughout our lifetime make choices that aren't always the best, but it doesn't mean they are bad people. So we selectively choose which stories to share from our past and at which time. We have to keep in mind that sometimes our children might not truly understand why we are sharing this or that, and realize that they might even be mad or angry at us for the choices we made. Ultimately, if we helped them prevent making even one poor choice, it was worth telling the tale and dealing with the wrath.

  3. I am so not even there yet. My son is only 6. But what I have seen from other friends and family members is that children follow by our example. My son can repeat things I have said on the phone when I didn't think he was listening. I we want our children to grow up to be of high moral character then we too need to set that example. Sure we all faulter once in awhile and admitting that is important.
    I am a single parent and leave out details of his fathers life that lead me to this point. When he is old enough to truely understand I will explain it all. Right now my goal is to keep him surrounded by God and Godly people so he always feels loved and special. In turn I must try to like my example for him.

  4. I feel that honesty is the best policy, as long as it is age appropriate. In other words, I am not going to talk to my 6 year old Daughter about drugs I may have done or relationships I may have had. One day she asked my wife if I had ever been arrested. She told her yes and left it at that. A few weeks later she asked me what I had been arrested for. I told her I had made a bad decision about drinking and driving. I explained how bad decisions can result in life long changes. I told her that one decision cost me a lot and I should have thought more before doing what I did.

    I take one situation at a time and hope and pray that I will know what to say. I want my child to know that she can always talk to me about anything. I look to God to guide me each time the situation comes up.

    In closing, remember, as Anonymous above has said, they hear and see everything, even when we think they aren't paying attention. As we teach in Sunday school, do everything as if God is there and watching, because He is.