Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Individuality

She's a quirky sleeper.
But so cute at it.

~

Now, on to today's topic: I have something that has been on my mind since before Robby and I were married, and I'd like a little feedback from you.

I finished "The Mistress of the Art of Death" and have now started "Beautiful Boy" by David Sheff. It's a true story written by a father whose son, Nic, was addicted to Meth for over a decade. The son is now recovered and written a book of his own called "Tweak", which I hope to read soon.

Anyway, I just got through the introduction and the father is basically rambling about what preempted the book. He briefly talks about wondering whether telling Nic beforehand about his own issues with drugs in high school would have made a difference in the choices Nic made. This made me stop a second.

I would say most parents have something in their past that they don't want their kids to know about. We all want to teach our kids right from wrong and pray they make the right decisions. We want them to be strong enough to handle peer pressure and know when to say no. But what happens when they ask specific questions about what we did or didn't do in our youth? Do we lie so we can keep the "All-Knowing Smartest Parent" status? Or are we honest with them and tell them the horrible consequences we dealt with once we made the wrong decision?

I'm completely torn in this situation. What if I lie and later, tell them the truth and lose their trust? Obviously, it will depend on the age of the child and the specific situation we are in, but I seem to only be able to view this situation from a logical point of view. I'm hoping and praying that when that problem arises, the spirit will tell me what to say.

So what will you do in that situation? And if you have already been there, how did you deal with it? I've been back and forth so many times, I don't know what I think anymore.

14 comments:

emidinkl said...

Mel, I'm so glad you bring up this question. I have pondered on the same thing a lot. As a kid if I heard that an adult I respected made a mistake, I had a thought process something like this---"Well if they made it out OK. It couldn't have been that bad". Although maybe it was never impressed upon me how difficult the consequences were. That might have made a huge difference in my rationalization. I look forward to the other comments, as I clearly have no wisdom on the subject...

Amber said...

Mel, this one is worthy of a Hot Topic on Mrs. Dub's blog.
I have made a lot of mistakes in my past and I certainly don't want my children to make the same ones. It's a tough balance, and I think it's like you said, the age of the child has SO much to do with how you handle it. I hope that my experiences will help my children to make better decisions. I know my hubby feels the same way.
Before we had children my fil made it very clear to us that he would tell our children that hubby had been married before. Okay, I think that's up to us to tell the children, and I know at some point we will, hoping to prevent them from making the same mistakes.
When children are small, they see you as that all-knowing, perfect human being. As they grow up, they think you know less...lol. I think it's important, when they reach the appropriate age,that they learn their parents are just people too, and that we've made mistakes. If you think your parents did everything right, how daunting is it to approach them when you've done something wrong?
I don't know when the time will be right to discuss each situation, but I would think that most of the big questions will come up at times that are appropriate for the child. Like you, I just pray that the spirit will be with me and direct me when that time comes.
What an awesome, thought provoking question!

Amber said...

Oh, and how cute is Gracie???

Sadie said...

First, Gracie is too adorable!!
I have also been pondering this question. I have not reached a concrete decision on which events I will exclude from the past, but I do think the truth is incredibly important. Lately I have been leaning toward "the whole truth and nothing but the truth", but I could change. Growing up, I always thought my parents were perfect and although I didn't want to disappoint them just the idea of them being perfect didn't exactly help me NOT make mistakes. I made some pretty stupid and regretful mistakes. But right now I don't want to think about my little tykes getting old enough to make those kind of mistakes. ;)

Nash said...

I truly believe that we go through trials NOT to disregard them, but to use them to help others. I also believe personal stories are powerful. I have a personal story in my fam that I don't want to put here for everyone to read. BUT, something my sister experienced, we later found out my mom had gone through as well. I truly believe had my mom shared her experiences with us, that we all would have had a very REAL experience to draw from. I believe it most likely would have prevented some trials of our own.
I just believe in being honest with your kids, obviously at the right age.
Hope that made sense, and I can't proof read cause my husband needs something AHHH.

KatieJ said...

I'm not sure- I think we'll play this one by ear, BUT I do think teenager's judgement is very lacking, and even when you tell them the horrible consequenses of your bad decisions, they don't care- they only hear you did it and turned out ok. I don't think it's ok to lie, but if they ask me "did you do (whatever it is)" if the answer is yes, I will probably just say "it doesn't really matter" and at some point- hopefully long before it's an issue- try to explain that we all make bad decisions sometimes, including me, (and plenty of people I knew) and as a teenager I couldn't fully comprehend the consequences, but now I do, and I don't want you to go through what I or my friends or whoever went through..." I don't know if that will work. I definatly don't think it's necessary or appropriate to "confess our sins" to our kids though. Maybe if I saw them struggling with a problem or issue I had, I would talk about it. I guess you are right, let the Spirit be your guide!

Anonymous said...

my husband and I were having a "parenting" talk with his Uncle who is a patriarch and sealer, whom we love and adore. He told the group of us in no certain terms that nothing good can come from telling your children about past indiscretions. We will follow his counsel. There are things I wish my parents had never told me.

Lyndsay said...

When I was in high school I actually asked one of my parents specifically about something in their past. (It was in response to one of those typical parenting discussions about what we should and shouldn't be doing with our lives growing up.) So when I asked my question, they replied "Well, that's personal." And that was the end of the entire discussion. I was surprised by that remark. I felt like I could at least have had an explanation that was a little more open, without giving me all the details of the past. I also think it made me more confused and offered me no guidance on the subject, unfortunately.

I think it's important most of all to have open dialog about tricky subjects. But I am ultimately so thankful that I now have the gospel to guide my response and use as the definitive example.

Melissa said...

Very thought provoking, indeed. I would like to mention that as an LDS woman, I have been taught that if you have repented of something it doesn't need to be talked about again-to anyone. With that being said. I would never, ever lie to my children. I am always open with them. We have a relationship that they trust us (as parents)to always be honest. I think it is important to realize that it is possible to talk about something, be truthful, but not to get caugt up in the details. I don't think everything has to be explained. I would most definilty focus on the consequences. Even now, while watching TV or the radio or people in our neighborhood. I mention to my kids the process of the decision. Like dating to early. or being alone to much, ect. I still have a lot to learn myself, but I think that the spirit really can guide.

Melissa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MARIE said...

Hey Mel, I personally believe to lie would be a grave mistake. If I found out my parents lied to my face about something - anything, they'd have lost my trust, some respect, and also given me permission (so to speak) to lie, too, from their example. I like the idea of telling the truth and then emphasizing the seriousness of bad decisions. Whether they chose to let it sink in is not really in our power (as if any of us really 'got it' at that age). I think we need to be worthy of our children's respect and trust which will help them, more than anything, decide to follow our example of striving to live a righteous life.

Karen said...

I believe that kids really don't want to know too many details about the dark area of their parents. It's extremely productive for them to see that we are human, that we have made some mistakes and that we have tried to be the best that we can be since then. But being honest doesn't have to be smothered with specifics. You tell them what you think might be beneficial to them and you don't burden them with anything more than that.

Tina said...

I agree with Katiej, anonymous, Karen and some of the others that honesty, openness, and understanding is what's important... not the gory details. You can use the wisdom and depth you've gained thru your experiences without telling it all. You can admit to having made mistakes... we all do... and that you are so far from perfect, without confiding it all. The dear uncle/patriarch/sealer, I feel, is very on the mark that no good is to be had by confessing past indiscretions. Yes, on the one hand the youth can say, well, they made it through it ok, but it depends on whether that means "cool, we can do it and get past it, too!" or it means that it was 'survivable' so they shouldn't feel lost because of a mistake made. What one person does and repents of and becomes a better person because of it can kill another person... We can only hope that the people we care about CAN survive their choices and live long enough to repent and see themselves on the other side of the situation in a positive light.
So, bottom line, my vote is use what you learn thru your experiences, be honest and sincere, but without devulging everything... it is private and details are unimportant and that you can help others because of it with out doing the old tell-all.
Whew! didn't mean to write a book! xox

emidinkl said...

See? I knew if I checked back here, I'd find the answer to the quandry. I've said it once, and I'll say it again. How blessed you are to have such an amazing support system!