I didn't realize how much of my life I had to share, (and how messy it was) until we were in the parent program at Hyde School. I didn't understand the incredibly positive impact it could have on my children until then. The key, though, is telling it with humility and without lecturing.
Honestly, I feel that I've lived a charmed life in many ways. And yet, there is a piece of me, a shy little girl, who still influences the way I react and respond to stressful situations and people. I have found that her story is the one my children need to hear.
Storytelling is a powerful teaching tool. The more honest and vulnerable the storyteller, the more powerful the message. Whether you are an artist, engineer, CEO, teacher, landscaper, or stay-at-home parent, you have an inspiring message to share. Your life is your story - with all its disasters and joys. And nowhere is it more important to share your messy story than with your children.
Telling your story isn't only about recounting events. It's about who you were when it was happening. What was the fear, the dilemma, the pit you fell into? What strengths did you finally tap into to pull yourself out of that emotional pit? What did you learn and how did you grow from it? I've told you how I pushed myself from sitting on the sidelines to learning to socialize. It was powerful when I went through it. It's powerful in the retelling.
Your children, especially if they are teens, are confused a lot of the time. It's the nature of the beast. They have no clue how to get through these years. They look at you and see only what appears to be a fully-formed adult, and know little to nothing about what it took for you to reach this point. (Many of you are still struggling, and hiding it well. Think about how meaningful that is for your kids to know!)
Every one of you can recall a struggle - to fit in, to resist temptation, to live up to expectations, being bullied, feeling different, having less than others, a significant failure, feeling controlled by your parents. You survived. This is what your kids need to hear. It gives them hope and inspires them. They begin to see that you really were a kid, once upon a time, and can understand what they are going through. They see that if you could do it, so can they. Your mess becomes your message, and they will eat it up.
Every person has a story. Tell your story instead of nagging. Let yours be the one that inspires your child to overcome his fears and reach his amazing potential.
Be well, be strong, be a courageous parent.
Reflection / Action:
1) When did you share a vulnerable time with your child? What was going on that compelled you to share?
2) What was your child's reaction? Was it what you expected?
3) How did you feel afterwards?
4) Think of an event in your life that was difficult to get through. What did you learn from it?
Fern Weis is a Parent Coach and Family Recovery Life Coach. She works with parents of teens and young adults who are going through difficult situations, from the homework wars to addiction recovery, and all points in between. Fern helps parents release guilt, end enabling, and confidently prepare their children to thrive and be successful through life's challenges. FernWeis.com | 201-747-9642