My kids are asking questions about my teenage years. I was a wild teen and did things I hope my kids don’t. How do I respond?
I’m sure you’re embarrassed and probably ashamed of the things you did. But your experience is actually a gold mine for teaching your kids about what not to do! If you can put aside your shame for their sake, you may realize that someone who has “been there and done that” is much more valuable as a guide to those who are considering it than someone who has only theoretical knowledge. Teenagers often like to learn from experience rather than from books and classes. Your kids have the valuable opportunity of learning from your experience rather than their own in some of the riskier areas of exploration. What would you have done differently in your teens if you’d had an adult guide who had already experienced the things you were considering and learned the “hard way?”
If you don’t want your kids to do what you did, you have good reasons. Think about what you learned from your experience, what you would not do if you were a teenager now, and why. Then answer your kids’ questions truthfully, emphasizing why you don’t think those behaviors are a good idea. Your children will not respect you any less, but may admire your honesty. You may be worried that they will think “If Mom did it, it’s okay for me.” This is not likely. Your experience of why it wasn’t okay will be much more meaningful than all the school lectures they may receive.
For yourself, this is a chance to turn those buried negative experiences into “fertilizer” for increased personal growth and for the healthy growth of your children. Don’t miss the chance.