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AIBU to be honest with my children

(32 Posts)
bluecoconuts Fri 19-May-17 21:39:48

I have made various mistakes in life and obviously like most parents am keen for my children not to follow my example.

What I don't want is for them to think I'm a pathetic failure - but it's now to word it. Basically I want their life to be totally different to mine but I'm meant to be a role-model for them.

Has anyone else experienced this difficulty?

OnlyABitStressed Fri 19-May-17 21:42:25

I think it's something you have to show them, rather than tell them... Good luck though, it's very fucking hard not to just morph into your parents :-(

TyneTeas Fri 19-May-17 21:47:42

I have told my DD that she is likely to get a much more rounded contribution from me if she asks general questions for discussion purposes than specifically about my personal experience.

I have also said that I will be unlikely to comment, confirm or deny whether I have or haven't done a great many things, as to do so may lead to her to dismiss my experience or views either way on the basis of if I never have then I wouldn't understand, or if I have how can I say she shouldn't...

bluecoconuts Fri 19-May-17 21:52:58

I'm not totally sure what you mean Tyne!

I think showing them is great if you can but I don't trust kids always notice what you want them to.

TyneTeas Fri 19-May-17 22:00:06

I thought you meant if they ask about eg smoking, drugs, sex

Sorry if I have misunderstood blush

Moanyoldcow Fri 19-May-17 22:01:26

Not exactly, but I was the child of a mother who had made some bad choices. We grew up dependent on benefits with her live in partner who failed to provide for us in every way.

She was emotionally and financially abused and became very depressed in her late 30s. As I got older she told me a LOT not to 'end up like her', encouraged me to earn a living and support myself and not be dependent on anyone.

She died when I was in my late teens. Her lessons stuck and I am a professional in a very happy marriage but I made conscious decisions to ensure I didn't end up like her.

I never thought she was pathetic - I just wished she'd been able to make herself happy. Sounds like you have and you children are lucky to have you.

bluecoconuts Fri 19-May-17 22:01:36

Ah, not really. I wouldn't mind talking about those as there aren't any skeletons in my closet anyway. But I'm conscious that "listen darling DD, your mother is an idiot who made many stupid mistakes, please don't be like her!" isn't very positive!

bluecoconuts Fri 19-May-17 22:02:03

Thanks moany, that's the sort of thing I mean flowers

bluecoconuts Sat 20-May-17 07:48:55

At any rate I suppose what I am conflicted with is acting as a 'warning' but also explicitly drawing attention to the fact that they should not look to me as a role model in many respects and I hope that is possible to do.

RebelRogue Sat 20-May-17 08:24:55

Do you have a good life now? One that you're mostly happy with?
Most people make mistakes.. from really bad to small ones. The important thing is to learn from them and know that you can recover . That there is a way out.

You can advise your kids and use yourself as an example if they seem to start doing the same mistakes you did,but there's no need to make them an extensive list of things to avoid. There will be things they prolly won't listen to you about anyways.
And when they do mistakes(be it their own,or smth similar to you) be there to remind them that it's not the end of it. Be an example of that.

EllaHen Sat 20-May-17 08:31:51

Thing is, I'm good with money because my parents weren't. Dh is committed to family time because he only saw his father 3 hours per week.

Sometimes, I wonder what lessons​ we are teaching our kids because we are providing the things we didn't have growing up.

Where will their determination, or motivation come from?

bluecoconuts Sat 20-May-17 08:56:36

In all honesty Rebel, not really. It's as good as it's going to get but every now and then I'm struck by how very different it could have been.

bluecoconuts Sat 20-May-17 09:34:20

I don't know Ella though. I suppose we expect our children to notice but if they've never known any different they won't, necessarily.

Littledrummergirl Sat 20-May-17 09:47:27

How old is your dd? My dc are in their teens or nearly and we have been very honest with them about our experiences. Dh was a horrific teen who narrowly avoided trouble mainly by not being caught. We have explained how these were poor decisions, the impact they made and crucially imo the impact they could have made. We explain the good and bad that came from our experiences. We try to show them the behaviour that we do want from them by doing it now ourselves.
Be honest, "I did x it was a stupid thing to do because..., as a result I....
I was lucky because y could have happened meaning my life would have been changed, instead of (positive experience ) I could have (negative experience ).
I know you are much cleverer than me and will learn from my experience and not do what I did."

This is something we do a lot and so far I have very well grounded dc who are amazing young people.

centreyourself Sat 20-May-17 09:51:36

moany your mum would be very proud of you.

Crowdblundering Sat 20-May-17 09:56:12

You do not learn from others mistakes you learn from your own .. that said I told my kids I had been a heroin addict before they were born because their step mother was going to do it for me sad

bluecoconuts Sat 20-May-17 09:58:42

Thanks. I don't mind sharing things with my children in a sense - I'm more worried i suppose that they may see me as a failure and not somebody to be respected.

WomblingThree Sat 20-May-17 10:13:19

I think if you are a good role model right now then that's good enough. Each day that you do good things is a day that you've shown them a positive experience.

I think people have a tendency to dwell too much on past mistakes, rather than concentrating on not making them again. You can't change the past, but you can make the present good enough.

Cluesue Sat 20-May-17 10:14:53

Crowdblundering what a bitch of a stepmother,I've known 2 ex heroin addicts and they've actually gone on and achieved more in life in terms of stability and success,financially,Personally and professionally that they inspired me greatly.

Crowdblundering Sat 20-May-17 10:18:12


Yes - I started volunteering with substance misusers 12 years ago which led to me setting up a project for teenagers which I get paid quite well for - my kids are proud of me .. so it backfired a bit smile

TakemedowntoPotatoCity Sat 20-May-17 10:22:44

I think - yet to be proved though I guess - that a lot of my shortcomings are down to bad decisions made by me when I didn't know any better or have really good advice. Of course, hindsight is a wonderful thing. If I can veer my DD away from similar decisions e.g. going to a different type of school, while still allowing her to make her own decisions - I guess I mean try not to influence her, just give good, experienced advice, which I'm not sure I had - I will think I've done a good job.

bluecoconuts Sat 20-May-17 10:25:30

I think in a funny way specific mistakes like that can be easier to address and sort.

Mine are more of a slow, steady wandering in the wrong direction.

unapaloma Sat 20-May-17 10:26:25

I have a similar issue blue coco - I was very timid and full of self doubt when younger, i got stressed abiut everything and had quite a bit of counselling.
By the time my DCs came along I was doing better, and have, I think, seemed to them as tho I have confidence that I know what I'm doing (and I'm happy that I've brought them up and cared for them well).
Now my early20's DD is full of self doubt, and feels she is a mess, and is even more upset because she feels there's no good reason she can't be happy, like me.

I've told her some of how I used to feel at her age, to try to make her realise its quite common, and that she can come out of it and be happy. But i worry that it could change her view of me, and that it might make her feel its inevitable she'll struggle.
Following your thread with interest!

Neverknowing Sat 20-May-17 10:35:42

My mum always pretended her past was great (to shield us) and it turns out her past was incredibly black including a heroin addiction, awful abuse, severe depression and anxiety. I wish she had spoken to me about it as when I had went through an abusive relationship and depression she acted like she didn't know anything and her experiences would have helped me.
My sister knew all of these things but for some reason she felt she couldn't talk to me. Obviously I don't blame her it was traumatic for her but she really acted like her life had been perfect, she never lied but I always felt her life had been so amazing and I was a bit of a failure.
Having found all this stuff out now as an adult it makes me feel a lot less close to her because she never trusted me with this. I would always be honest with your children, they need to know everyone (even mums!) go through hard things and it proves that they can come out at the other end, just like you did !

Violetcharlotte Sat 20-May-17 10:41:12

Kids need to learn by their own mistakes, so I don't think saying 'I did x even I was your age and look what happened' is helpful. When you're young, you think you're invincible and right about evening and your parent know nothing, so you're unlikely to listen to them!

I think if you have made mistakes in the past (and who hasn't?!) you shouldn't be beating yourself up over them. We make the decisions we make because that's what feels right to us at the time, what's important is what we learn from our mistakes and how we grow as a result.

The best way to help your DC take the right path, I believe, is to always try to put yourself in their shoes, remember what it was like to be their age and how you felt at the time, this will help you have a relationship where they feel they can talk to you about anything, without judgement.

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