10 things I refuse to hide from my kids

My kids ask a lot of questions. I decided very early into parenthood that is easier to give honest answers the first time than it is to fix what you have said later. My kids are far more informed than most kids they know and I am okay with that. The more I tell them, the less they learn from unreliable sources. These are the things I chose to educate them on rather than hide from them.

1. My tears. Tears are not weakness. My kids need to know that. If THEY caused the tears, they need to know that treating people badly hurts them. If they didn't,  they need to know that tears are okay as long as they don't monopolize your time. I also think it is good for my kids to get an idea of how to comfort someone. I don't want them to be uncomfortable and turn away from the tears of others. 

2. Sex. Don't misunderstand, sex is private.  I don't think it can be a secret though. My family didn't talk about it, so I learned from the encyclopedia. World Book did not prepare me at all! My children found a condom in my room when I was single. There were questions. I demonstrated proper usage and purpose. My then 3 year old may not have understood completely, but the foundation is now set for the next time that conversation takes place. I encourage chastity with my children, but I want them informed if they choose a different path.

3. My miscarriages.  Hopefully you aren't going to need this one, but far too many of my friends and family members have suffered a loss: infertility,  miscarriage,  stillbirth, or infant loss. Parents of loss need to know they are not alone if they have this type of loss! My children need to know how to be compassionate in this situation and how to deal just in case they suffer this tragedy.

4. Mental illness. My family is filled with mental illness.  They need to be prepared. They need to know I understand and I know where to find help if they start having issues. They also need to know that a person with mental illness is not less of a person.

5. The reasons I am no longer married to their father. I would love to tell you that my first marriage ended because my husband ran off with my best friend. While that is true, it is not the only reason my marriage ended. If things had gone the way I expected the day I found my husband and his now wife making out in my bed, my marriage could have survived the infidelity. I expected he would come home and we would fight until we were better. He didn't. He took her to meet his family... MY family. The truth is, we had been in trouble for a long time. A little over a week before this, she was living with her boyfriend, we had gone camping together, and my husband and my best friend professed their love to one another while I was drinking excessively with our friends. We were already having massive breakdown in communication. He didn't think I loved him anymore and I was always angry that he was never home. I can see where he got that idea. Neither of us did anything to fix the situation. Our friendship has gotten much stronger in the last 4 years than our marriage ever was.

6. Money (or lack thereof). I don't hesitate to tell my kids we can't afford something. We are financially more stable than we ever have been, mostly because my current husband is a very responsible person. There are still things that won't fit our budget. I can't afford quads for all of my kids and they need to understand that food is more important than toys. I am not going to make room for expensive dresses for play just because that is what they want.

7. Alcohol. I grew up with a "functioning alcoholic" father and a straight edge mother. I saw only the extremes. My father's second wife and my mother's second husband showed me moderation in my teens but it may have been too late for the impressions to stick. My first husband had some issues with alcohol at times as well and that left me being responsible for more than my share on several occasions. My children have seen this. I drink in front of them to show that is is possible to drink in moderation. My children have seen from me that it is possible to have a glass of wine and girl chat without getting ridiculous, and you can have a backyard barbecue party without getting sloppy drunk. I don't drink very often, but when I do, it is usually at home and often with my children present. These images are important. I want them to be able to make good decisions and know their limits. Note: my children know that it is unacceptable to drive after any number of drinks. If there is to be driving, I won't drink. I will not take any chances in that department and I make sure my guests have a designated driver.

8. Criminal history. I am not perfect. I don't think I know any perfect people. My youngest sons father is currently serving 9-12 years in prison. My kids have seen their dad in jail. My current husband has a juvenile record as well. People make mistakes. Some of the most remarkable people I know have a criminal past. I don't want my children to judge people based on past mistakes, but more importantly, I need my children to understand that their actions have consequences. Jail is not pretty, not to mention the things you miss when you are locked up. My son won't get to see his father outside prison walls until almost Kindergarten and that is best case scenario. I found out I was pregnant, a week after he got locked up, He has missed everything. The old saying goes, "If you can't do the time, don't do the crime." Children should know how true that is.

9. Anger. Like sadness, there is a right way and a wrong way to express this. Mainly, a person dealing with strong emotion should remember two things: your emotions should not take over your life and your expression of such should not be dangerous to yourself or others. I spent years screaming when I was angry. It took a long time to learn self-control. I still believe that some things can only be expressed loudly. My anger, in most cases, is now expressed more calmly. I take a deep breath, cry in private for a few minutes and then hit the problem head on. My second marriage is more successful than my first and this is one of the most important reasons. Anger in itself is not a problem. How we deal with anger can be. It is not always easy, but I work very hard to express anger assertively. The more I can be assertive, the more likely my kids will be to follow suit. I don't want violent expression from my kids. I want them be able to talk out their frustrations now and in the future. 

10. My past. I am no angel. I made some pretty serious mistakes in my past. I have experienced horrors. Some were my own doing and in some situations, I had no control. I have seen darkness. As parents, we want our children to walk in the light. We want all the best for our children in a world without hurt. Sadly, our children will probably be hurt in some way. I wish that were not the case, but how many of us can say we never experienced pain? Without hurt, how would we know joy? When I was young, adults went on and on about what not to do but they never gave me a solid why. Most of them had no experience with the things they condemned. I want my children to understand that I know what happens when you make bad decisions. I have experienced the consequences of the "not-to-dos". I experienced pain at the hands of others; often ones I loved. Things I should have shared when they happened, I bottled up and kept secret for many years. I don't want this for any child. I want my children to be able to share with me when they hurt. If I don't know what is wrong, I can't help.

I have been called "brutally honest" on more than one occasion. I sincerely hope that someone learns from my honesty. I hope my children carry my honesty with them and ask questions when they need more information. They are far better informed than I was. If they keep hold of this information, they will struggle much less than I did in my youth. 

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