Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How Much Do You Tell Your Children?

Cross-posted and archived from DC Metro Moms. Original post from May 13, 2008.

Recently, The Washington Post ran a cover story for their Magazine titled, "The Secret Lives of Moms". The mother on the cover was portrayed as a June Cleaver type woman with a bottle of Jack Daniels and handcuffs hanging out of her apron pockets which made me cringe just looking at it. The line beside it began with, "If you have bongs or thongs in your past..." Thongs? What heck is wrong with a thong? Yes, they are uncomfortable but that is why there is the g-string. Are Moms not supposed to wear these?!

But, I digress. The point of this piece is how much do we tell our children about our pasts? Do we lie and cover up our mistakes for fear they will follow in our footsteps? Do we use the brutal honesty approach and hope they learn the same valuable lessons we did? Or do we use a combination of truth and white lie? Really, what will come back from our past and bit us in the butt via our kids?

This is something that my husband and I have discussed on numerous occasions despite our daughter being only two. We want to be prepared when she asks us about drugs, s-e-x, and all those other issues that children naturally have questions about. Overall, we want her to feel comfortable enough to ask us first and not some kid on the playground or other parent.

When I think back to my own childhood my parents had two totally separate approaches. My Dad was all about divulging stories of his past if I asked and then telling me about how sometimes they were not the best choices. I respected him for that and felt that I would know how to handle myself in these situations because of our discussions. My mother on the other hand was all fire and brimstone. If I so much as asked to go to a Vanilla Ice concert with my friends and a chaperone I was in for a lecture on how concerts were places where illicit drugs were abundant, kids were lost and I would be sucked into some dark hole of an abyss possibly never to be heard from again. By the time I made it to my first concert I was in college and the most I saw was some cigarette smoking. The subject of sex was equally as awful and I always thought I was one grope away from being dragged away by some demons into the depths of hell while on the way to my second period history class.

I realize now that the subjects my parents were honest about and didn't fuss over offered up no attraction to me. I knew the stories, the consequences and felt prepared. It was the classic stuff that they outlawed that seemed mysterious and thus held more allure. So you tell me, what do you plan on telling your kids? Half-truths? Total lies? Or something in between?


Jessica @ A Bushel and a Peck said...

My parents were always pretty honest with me and my sisters, which I think made us realize that A) they were not going to be fooled b/c they had done it all too, and B)they had made mistakes and learned from them and were trying to help us do the same. I think it was a good approach and I plan to do the same thing with my kids. Hopefully they will see where I messed up (or did well) and take it to heart.

Reply May 13, 2008 at 09:19 AM Paulette said...

This one's sort of difficult for me because my mom truly never did anything wrong! The poor woman never even played cards. My dad was incredibly strict, but he had a bit of a past. He shared some of it with us, but I didn't find out a lot of it until I was married with a child of my own.

I'd like to be honest with my little girl (she's two); I don't want her to feel guilty about having the occasional margarita or *gasp* kissing a boy before she's married! I think there's a fine line between sharing and being too open though- there are some things that are just plain inappropriate to share with one's kiddo.

Reply May 13, 2008 at 11:40 AM JessicaAPISS said...

I plan on divulging increasing amounts of info regarding my past experiences as my kids grow older. I am not ashamed per se, just reluctant to tell a 13 year old things that I will have no problem telling a college sophomore.

Reply May 13, 2008 at 04:41 PM feener said...

not sure how honest i will be but i will sure talk to them more than my folks talked to me which was zero bout that stuff.

Reply May 13, 2008 at 06:08 PM Meg said...

I wrote about this, too, today. That story in the Post grabbed hold of me and would not let me go!

Reply May 13, 2008 at 06:40 PM dadshouse (David at svmoms) said...

I'm a single dad with a teen daughter, and I was the parent who talked to her about sex. For whatever reasons, her mom wanted no part of the discussion.

My daughter was 11 at the time, and she and I talked candidly about the subject for an hour. I wasn't embarrassed, and neither was she. A day later, she called her aunt with follow up questions.

My daughter knows I date, and met two girlfriends of mine, and saw how I handled both breakups. She's met her mom's boyfriend. Maybe it's easier for dating single parents to relate to kids about these subjects. My daughter sees some of my struggles and knows I don't have all the answers, but she also sees me as a pretty darn good resource.

1 comment:

  1. Hmmmm... That is a good question! I actually don't know. I guess I will see what I feel like telling them at the moment. I probably will not give them all of the details. They probably wouldn't want (or need) to hear all of them anyway.


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