A recent request on Facebook resulted in me to joining a group organising a 30 year reunion of my secondary school year. This led to discussions about many things we did as children – some I remembered and some I had forgotten. It made me think about whether or not I tell my children about some of them and this got me thinking about the wider picture.
We all have histories. We all have things that we did before we met our partners and had our children. The question is how do we present our histories to our children? Sometimes we have to use stories from our past to help inform our children, to help illustrate points and build bonds. However not everything is easy to express. When parents break-up we try to shield our children from the full details. Certain things are not shared but later children may want to understand more about the situation and as parents we have to be prepared to address, this when it happens.
I know from my own experience that you never feel you know the whole story yourself. I also know that everyone has things they hide or don’t talk about, some of these are burdens that cause great pressure, others get easier to deal with the further you are from the event. However as a parent you have to be ready to be held accountable for your actions – sometimes by the people you love most – your kids, which makes it even harder. Taking about your behaviour at school 30 years ago may set the wrong or right example for my children today.
As a psychology student I think how we label these incidents affects how we feel about them. Are they sordid secrets or acts of a younger stupid you? These ‘life events’ might be a night spent in casualty with alcohol poisoning, a flirtation with drugs, a secret termination, getting arrested or attending a Spice Girls concert, they are all part of you. They are things that, as we gain life experience, we would probably not repeat and they often mean we might have to question our own moral compass when we talk about them or share them.
I think every parent has these and everyone should consider how you are going to deal with this situation, before it happens. If you want to have an open and honest relationship with your children then you need to be open and honest with yourself and your pasts.
When I think about what to tell of my past life I like to remember these wise ….…the people that mind don’t matter and the people that matter don’t mind….
So spend a few minutes this week to consider and really think it through, your child may only be 3 or 7 but one day they might ask. Just ensure you are ready.
Till next time.
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