Is your “Perfect Parent” Persona hurting your relationship with your children?
For the last three years, Brianna felt like she was having every conversation twice.
Three years ago, Brianna’s parents got divorced. They had a decent relationship, largely over the care of their one daughter. But of all the changes and adjustments for Brianna, it was the duplicate conversations that had been hardest.
If there was a test at school, Mom asked how it went over dinner and Dad asked over the weekend. If there was a school dance, Dad asked for all the details, then at the start of the week Mom wanted the same.
Brianna never thought she would catch one of her parents in a lie.
Brianna’s dad bought concert tickets for her 16th birthday, and they ended up having an unexpected heart-to-heart on the way home. Dad talked about concerts he’d been to; he talked about music, friends, and even parties and drinking. Brianna thought he even alluded to drugs.
“Did you ever try pot, Dad?” Brianna asked. It was the boldest question she’d ever asked him, but the moment felt right. She felt like there was no reason why he should lie—she wasn’t a kid anymore, after all.
“No,” Dad said. He was so quick that Brianna felt like she’d said something wrong. Brianna continued to think about the conversation with her dad, and wondered if she could ask her mom the same thing. She saw her chance when, over dinner the following week, Mom asked about the concert.
They talked about friends, and then about parties. And Brianna asked, “Did you ever try pot, Mom?”
Mom paused, but then smiled. “Yes, honey. I smoked a handful of times in school. But to be honest, I didn’t like it. It made me feel paranoid and I decided, ‘What’s the point?’”
Brianna’s jaw fell to the floor. She was awestruck that her mom had come right out with it.
“Who did you smoke with? How did you get your hands on it?” Brianna asked in a rush. She thought of her grandparents and knew it must have been hard for her mom to get away with it. “Oh,” Mom smiled again, “your father.”
Honest parenting promotes two-way honesty.
Some of the skeletons in your closet may never be appropriate to tell your child(ren). Certain, more private confessions may even be so painful that, despite your best intentions, you can’t bring yourself to talk about it.
Outside of a case like Brianna’s where we could be caught in a lie, it is valuable to ask what the benefits of open parenting are.
When children grow into adolescence and start making more of their own decisions, rules become less potent. You can throw rules at the wall all you want, but fewer and fewer will stick. Guiding by advice can be a powerful way to continue getting through to your child(ren).
But what is the backbone of advice? Experience. Without any “authority” on the topic, your advice loses weight. Open, honest parenting can offer valuable insights to any child. You may find it helps them open up in return.
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