Thanks to comments made by people who have known me for a long time, my oldest daughter has had a curious interest in my teenage life before her Daddy. Some of my life mishaps between the ages of 16 and 19 are down-right hilarious (now but not then). I've got plenty of crazy stories, but there are some I’d rather not tell my own children. I wish I would have treated others more kindly, made better decisions, and not entangled myself with certain people or fleshly desires.
When our children ask us about the realities of the past, we have questions of our own to quickly wade through. Will we tell them or will we not? Will they use our mistakes as excuses to make more of their own? Will they respect us less once they find out we didn’t always live up to the standard we hold them to?
A year ago, my kids learned that I spray-painted my uncle’s wall as a child. They were stunned I would do such a thing, but that didn’t make them want to graffiti our own home. That experience helped motivate me to be honest with them. I have decided to freely talk about my own mistakes/sins to my kids in the appropriate times and to the extent that they can maturely understand them. Here’s why:
1) They need to see why Mommy needed a Savior.
2) I want them to see with their own eyes how God works through imperfect people.
3) I do not want to set an example of being shackled by shame.
4) I’m expecting the end of my life to be better than the start.
5) WHEN my kids mess up, I want them to know who to talk to. Their imperfect mother will understand how to come to the Lord, ask forgiveness, correct mistakes, make restitutions and better decisions the next time.
This week, I’ve learned that friends and family members with good memories are a two-edged sword. I would like to think better of myself than I really was. But no—they have the stories to prove otherwise. While a pain, I’m glad they are in my life to keep me humbleJ and real. I’ve also come up a great parenting philosophy that I will continually speak to my children: