Friday, October 16, 2009

Is Sharing Caring?

How much do you want to share of yourself when your kids grow up? A generation ago, this question would have probably been irrelevant. The lines between parents and children were a lot more defined. But in this touchier, feelier age in which we live, parents are friendlier and closer with their offspring. Add to that the transparency of social media and blogging, and it becomes seemingly harder to stay opaque. So when it comes time that your kids are going to start to get into the same kind of trouble that you did, stare down the same demons, what are you going to say?

I’m a long way from this, but I think about it a lot. I’m fairly confident that my parents, especially my dad, had their share of shenanigans growing up. Yet when it came to the inevitable talks about using substances or sex or any of the other things that keep parents of teens up a night, my folks never shared anecdotes. That was probably for the best. When it comes to learning about your parents, there are many things better left unsaid.

As for me, I was not a real troublemaker, but I was no angel either. Let's just put it this way, I'm really glad there was no such thing as Twitter when I was in college. As per usual, my teenage years included lapses in judgment that sometimes resulted in trashcans filled with puke or walks of shame (every once in a while, both).

At the end of the day, I don’t think my kids need to know everything about me. Just like I don’t know everything about my parents. I love my kids, but they are not my friends. Even though I call my son "buddy" all of the time, he is my child. Knowing the trouble I got in to, or narrowly avoided, would probably give him license to do the same things. Right?

What say you? Do you acknowledge your past in the present?


CJ said...

Hmmmm, this is a tough one for me. I was extremely sheltered and grew up with the idea that my parents were perfect. I never felt safe sharing mistakes with them because I didn't think they would understand or forgive. Even now as an over-35 adult, I have a very skewed (don't let them find out I did, said, think) relationship with them. I don't think we should share everything with our kids, but I do think its important to make sure they understand that WE understand about mistakes and can help them recover from those mistakes. I never want my kids to feel like I did growing up.

Nonflammable said...

I don't acknowledge too much of my past to my kids. Specifically the past where my judgement would be questioned by them. They don't need to know the details of my mistakes.

ZenMom said...

Interesting food for thought.

My kids are not old enough yet for this to be an issue, so I guess I have time to figure it out.

Frankly, I've always been pretty much a good girl - with a few stupid decisions thrown in for good measure. The ZenHusband, on the other hand, had a more ... colorful ... youth than I did. Still, nothing too scary.

I expect that we will be a little more upfront about our mistakes and imperfections than our parents were. But I can't see us having really detailed discussions with them about it. More just a "hey, dude, we might be your parents, but we're not so uncool that we don't understand where you're coming from" kind of thing.

Then again, part of me wants my kids to always think I'm perfect. ;)

Susan said...

This is such a GREAT post... my husband and I talk about this all the TIME. We have the answers that make us feel good, then we always revert back to the "right" answers, or "healthy" answers for the kids.

Coming from the world of divorce, In a dream world I would love to tell them what bullshit I went through and WHY I left their dad, and my husband says the same thing about his ex-wife and his boys. He dreams of the day when they're 21 and we go out drinking and it all comes out...

And then we sit and face reality. No matter what, and at what age, we're the parents. And honestly, kids are smarter than we think.

Great post.

TentCamper said...

Love the post!!! I agree with your thought. I do draw on my past quite a bit and am able to see through a lot of the teenage shit and also talk to the kids about when I was their age...saying, "I knew this kid that..." even if that kid was me. with kids ranging in age from 5 to has been really tough though. I think that kids NEED to know that you really do understand where they are and what they are going through....but at the same time, know that you can teach/help them make the right decisions.

Janie Woods said...

As the mom of two older teenage boys (one nearing 18) I do share some things, but not details. Like, "yeah, I smoked pot a couple of times and hated it." Not, "Yeah, we used to go out in the mountains every weekend and just get plain f**ked up! Then drive home by curfew!! Whew, I'm lucky to be alive!!" And I don't tell them about my sex life in high school...I let them think that I was old enough to make good decisions about that. I think it depends on your kid, really. I don't talk about it much with the middle son but I do the oldest because I see the path he's trotting toward. Now, the youngest? That's what he's got big brothers for..He'll be nine when they are both out of HS and on their own.

StaceyOrlowski said...

As the mother of a teenager I think it is okay to share provided you describe what you learned from your experience. I don't think it gives them free reign to do what you did in your youth but it does show them that you were human. I think a lot of people want their kids to think they were the best kid to their parents hoping that they will be great kids to us. I don't believe it works that way. Learn from me and my experiences and create new ones of your own.-right or wrong.

Daddy Geek Boy said...

I think I have to keep quiet about my past cause I don't think I really learned anything.

Mariah said...

As a parent of teenagers here's my thought. Don't tell them everything. I have heard 'but you did it as a teenager' from my eldest when I caught her smoking pot. And later doing shrooms. I quit telling stories of my youth after that. The other kids think I've always been an angel and I like it that way.

Great post

Daddy Geek Boy said...

Mariah...That's exactly it. Telling stories runs the risk of inadvertently condoning the action. However, feigning no experience on the subject could be met with "you don't know what you're talking about."

Ah, kids.

Petra a.k.a The Wise (*Young*) Mommy said...

Oh boy, this is a HUGE issue for me. Being a sex writer, I worry immensely what I am going to do when my kids are old enough to find out what I write about. I think about it all the time, and am really not sure what to do about it, other than keeping parental blocks on my kids' computers until they are 18...

I'm open to suggestions :)

Missty said...

Oh great topic. And I am with you. DON'T tell them everything, or anything about when you were younger. I think it gives them permission. Having four boys, ages 17-25, we have been down every road. lol No really, we have! All good boys, just boys being boys, or kids being kids.

We had the problem of the grandparents talking about "what your dad did when he was your age." NOT good. So it would come back and bite us. We had to have a little sit down chat with the inlaws about, don't tell our kids, even in fun, what dad did when he was a teen.

We have instilled in our kids - you can come and tell us anything. And we will ALWAYS be there for you, no matter what. And my kids know that. I had one son who was at a party and called me to come pick him up at 2:00am. Then he proceeded to barf out the window all the way home. lol Better he called me then go home with a drunk friend.

Our deal is - call me if you need me. You won't get in trouble at that moment. Because I need you to know I will be there for you. But chances are you will get in trouble after the fire is put out. lol

dadshouse said...

I give my kids minor tidbits, but no way will I share the juicy stuff. I don't want to give them permission to do the same crap things I did! They can get into their own trouble.

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

HOw funny. It wouldn't matter with me. I haven't done anything that I don't think I could share with them.


I grew up sheltered... but had a great go of it seriously.

People would either fall asleep at the video of my life or fall over laughing at all the crazy things that happen to me... like out of the blue crazy... like trip in front of big crowds crazy.

But nothing I'm really ashamed of.

Okay, well I won't tell them I cheated on a science test in middle school.

Other than that... I'm good.

But I see what you mean.

Great post!

chocdrop said...

I agree with you. There should be a line betweem e ach. Sometimes it is hard not to share things, but if it may be relevent I may say a little something but not the whole thing to get my point across.

Kelly(Mom of 6) said...

I always followed the golden rule. Answer only the questions being asked and turn the focus to why they are asking questions in the first place, because that means they are in a predicament and they are looking for guidance as to what now. I always tell mine...Hey I was (insert age) once, you can be sure that I understand...and then I laugh..mysteriously.

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