General Question

spendy's avatar

How much of your past do you believe you should share with your children?

Asked by spendy (1446points) July 12th, 2008

Do you believe there’s a certain point at which some things should not be discussed, or do you believe that anything could be a potential learning experience? Naturally, different topics are appropriate for different ages. This is all part of the question. What do you believe is appropriate and when?

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19 Answers

generalspecific's avatar

well.. with me and my mom it’s always been, “well YOU did it so why can’t I?”
and then of course, I go out and do dumb stuff and then learn myself.
I think that some stuff, kids can learn from but most just have to make their own mistakes.

bunkin's avatar

There are so many things I dont know about my parents, and the stuff I do know makes them seem foriegn to me… I wish I knew more. I think it would help me to know so I could connect with them on a deeper level. Once they are gone, so are their secrets.

marinelife's avatar

My mother is really bizarre about stuff about her past and her family of origin. She hid many things from us including when we were children that my uncle, her brother, was an alcoholic. Now my brother is an alcoholic. I wonder if he might have been more aware if he had known about the genetic predisposition.

If I want information about my childhood or my infancy, I have to trick her into answering questions. It is bizarre.

I was a senior in high school before I knew she and my day met on a Monday and married the following Saturday! My dad told me. She was mad when I asked her if it was true, but did, reluctantly, admit it.

I certainly don’t think parents should be like that.

On the other hand, I don’t think total openness makes sense either. I think matter of fact, age appropriate responses to questions are good, making it seem if these things are not a mystery. If a question goes too far, I think the parent should say, “The answer to that will have to wait until you are older, and can understand that issue better.”

chaosrob's avatar

I’d say you give your kids the best possible edit of your past to arm them for things they may confront and teach them what they should learn to be happy and successful. There’s not really any reason to fill them with your fears or make them relive your failings. Give them what you’ve learned, maybe not quite exactly how you learned it.

One other thought: This is not a concrete rule. If there’s a time to think on your feet and keep making good decisions, it’s when raising your kids.

Dog's avatar

When they are adults if you wish to share your more controversial past then go for it but the relationship as you raise them is that of PARENT not friend or peer.

In order to help them reach maturity you need to be respected and keep the relationship as a loving, nurturing parent to child. This is especially important in the teen years when they will be setting their own moral compass.

Also – depending on the knowledge you wish to impart you need to be careful not to burden your kids with too much knowledge too young. Small children need to be protected from the harshness of the world because they cannot process it yet.

I have seen parents who believe in telling the kids every detail from toddler age on up:
It would be so much better on the kids to tell them “Yes- Uncle John died and is in heaven- he was ill” rather than “Uncle John killed shot himself in the head because he was depressed and did not want to live.”

Again this is just my opinion- wait till they are adults- time goes so fast and before you know it they are grown up. In the meantime LOVE THEM NURTURE AND PROTECT THEM.

jacksonRice's avatar

you know the answer to this question better than anyone else because you know your kids better than anyone else (well, anyone else on fluther, i guess). what can they handle?

i’m pretty sure my answer is somewhere along the lines of: share anything they want to know but don’t volunteer too much (potentially unwanted) information. if you are ashamed of something in your past (see: prostitution, smoking cigarettes, marrying that asshole, not applying to princeton) then you could have an interesting conversation with your kids about that, which would also be more fruitful than trying to hide it (cigarette smoke clings to clothing; you might run into your asshole ex at the supermarket). corollary: if you ashamed of something in your past involving your kids themselves, (see: why did i have a second child, why did i ever marry your father) tread with caution, both for your sake & for theirs.

noraasnave's avatar

I tend to give my little ones the PG version of events from my past. I want them to know me, my weaknesses and my strengths. Right now they are the age when they think I am able to do anything.

I know as they get older they are going to have questions deep inside about me, hopefully I have fostered a relationship with them that will allow the free flow of information, so that they feel that they can ask me any question. I don’t feel that lying to children is ever right.

If I don’t want them to know the answer then I tell them that I will explain it when they are a little older. I believe explicitly in being honest to my children, if they feel I am deceiving them then I can’t blame them for distrusting me later in life.

I think saying the truth in love is a concept that applies here. My life has been rated pg-13, since I was protected by my parents growing up. So, much of it can be shared in an unedited format to the children.

I think it is most important to show them who you are now, the good, bad, and the indifferent. So they can try to be better than you. They see everything we try to hide anyway. You can SAY whatever you want, they will know the truth by watching your actions.

Spargett's avatar

Almost all women have children. There are alot of women in porn.

I’m just saying.

marinelife's avatar

@Spargett Huh?

ninjaxmarc's avatar

I’m 27 and still don’t know everything :P

With me, I’d be open with my children so they learn from my mistakes.

girlofscience's avatar

My mom has shared a LOT with me, but most of it has only been recently, I’d say in the last 3 years (I’m 22). She didn’t meet my dad until her thirties, and so she had a lot of “dating” experience throughout her twenties and told me some pretty hilarious stories…in detail. She definitely never did any drugs, though, so there was nothing to share in that regard.

I wish I knew more about my dad’s past though. My dad attended Woodstock ‘69 and was a total ridiculous hippie back in the day. Any time those days are brought up, my mom insists that he was “only into the music.” Haha.

If I ever have kids, I think I’ll end up telling them a fair amount of my past, but I’ll probably withhold the absolute worst things I’ve done.

spendy's avatar

I guess I should have stated in the description that my reason for asking was curiosity of where other stand and not actual advice. :) Everyone has had great responses though.

flameboi's avatar

I won’t share the crazy stuff for sure

Knotmyday's avatar

I think any sharing should be done judiciously, and be planned. This is one area where spontaneity is never appreciated. “You know, when you were born I had serious doubts about who the father was?” etc. Avoid gratuitousness at all cost; but if you foresee a skeleton emerging from the attic, start planning a discussion.

nina's avatar

Anything you believe might benefit them in any way, any experience you have had that you feel gave you a unique perspective on something, and, of course anything they might express interest in.

Miss_Lys's avatar

i think i know almost everything about my parents and there pretty sad pasts. but it helps me be grateful for what i have and plus kinda keeps me from making there mistakes im an experince person so usually i learn the hard way. but of course you tell them at an approprate age

Zen's avatar

I have kept my high school slacking to myself. I didn’t want to have it serve as a negative role model for them, or give them an excuse to do the same.

Soemtimes, when they describe certain (negative) situations or teachers, which I can completely identify with, I still play the serious parent part and opt out of “identifying with it.”

justus2's avatar

Anything that they ask, and what you feel you should tell them

Coloma's avatar

My 22 yr. old daughter and I have no taboo topics between us.

I have shared anything and everything I have felt to be important with her from my life expeeince ( age appropriate of course ).

I have disclosed an abortion in my late teens, drug use, alcohol, sexuality, abusive behaviors, and feel that these sharings have given her an experential leg up in perhaps helping her make good choices for herself.

She is not a big partier, kept her viginity intact 5 years longer than I did, and, all in all, is a really together young woman. I believe in hiding nothing from our children that helps them to understand, not only the challenges they face in making wise choces, but to showcase their parents in the light of humanity beyond the fantasy of perfect mom or dad.

It is very important that kids come to see their parents as individuals and not just parents.

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