I’m noticing a common characteristic of healthy families, though. The characteristic is this: kids with parents who are honest about their shortcomings seem to do better in life.
What I mean is parents who aren’t trying to be perfect or pretend they’re perfect have kids who trust and respect them more. It’s as though vulnerability and openness act as the soil that fosters security. And I’d say that’s the quality I most often sense in the children of honest, open parents. I sense security.
Sadly, I’ve noticed the opposite is true too. I’ve noticed parents who don’t admit their faults have children who are troubled and emotionally restless as though they secretly want to be free from their families so they can be themselves.
If you think about it, parents who are open and honest with their kids create an environment in which children are allowed to be human. And, sadly, parents who hide their flaws unknowingly create an environment where kids feel the need to hide. And feeling the need to hide our true selves from the world is rarely healthy.
Some of the most troubled people I know were raised in fundamentalist environments with parents who felt the need to act more righteous than they were. I don’t know if I’ve ever met a person from a legalistic family who didn’t struggle. Environments in which we are encouraged to hide our faults are toxic.
Donald Miller — Scary Close (pp. 157-158)
Many times I have credited going through a divorce as one of the greatest catalysts to my growth as an individual; and I still believe that to be true. However, one of the biggest things I’m thankful for that resulted from the divorce was losing the facade that my life was perfect. My kids were very young when the divorce took place—ages 3 and 1 1/2—and the first couple years were mostly a blur until eventually I gained my bearings.
I must say it’s been easier to be honest with my kids about my shortcomings as they have grown older. I’d like to think it’s been a parallel process—they have grown up while I have personally matured into the person I am now. Looking back, I think the most significant change came when I threw away the authoritarianism I assumed I was supposed to hide behind. Instead, I stepped out from that veil and risked being real with my children. My approach shifted from I have all the answers for your life to I wonder what they are here to teach me.
Stepping out from behind that veil has proved beneficial in other areas of my life as well. Being honest with my children about my shortcomings has allowed me to be genuine and authentic with others. I don’t have to pretend I’m perfect with my children or anyone anymore. I now know I am perfectly imperfect. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Have a blessed day.
Peace and Love,