Telling Your Children About Your Past
by Lisa Medoff
Dear Dr. Medoff,
Should I tell my kids about trying drugs in the past? I don’t want them to think it is okay for them to do it just because I did, but I also don’t want to lie to them. From, G.P.
You are certainly not the first parent to struggle with the issue of telling kids about behavior from your past that you are not too proud of, no matter what that behavior may be. On one hand, it is best to be honest with your children. Your honesty creates a warm, trusting relationship in which your children are more likely to come to you for help and information if they have questions or problems. On the other hand, you may be concerned that telling your children about the risky behavior that you engaged in as a child may be all the permission they need to try that very same behavior. You may worry that you won’t be able to say no to them anymore without being called a hypocrite, or that they will see that your behavior did not seem to have any negative consequences.
The issue of telling your children about your former experimentation with alcohol or drugs (or any other behavior that terrifies you to think that your child might be involved in) is one that should be considered very carefully before your child is of the age where he or she will be asking you these questions. It is best to be prepared so that you are comfortable with what you are going to say. No one knows what your children can handle better than you do, so no one else can tell you what it is appropriate to share with them. Here are some ideas to consider when it comes to sharing behavior from your past with your children.