How Much of Your Past Do You Share with Your Children?

Like I’ve said before, Matt and I are approaching a whole new level of parenting. The questions now aren’t about when to potty train or whether or not to allow them to ride the bus. In a couple of weeks I will have a daughter entering high school, another entering middle school, and my son will be entering intermediate school (grades 3-5). Don’t ask me how this has happened. I have great potty training advice, and I could probably write my memoirs about the interesting conversations that have come from driving my kids to and from school myself. But now I have new questions.

One came up over the weekend. My nieces and nephew were getting baptized in the Anglican Church of North America and my sister and brother-in-law asked Matt and I to be Godparents. With this new honor and responsibility, I attended the parent class on baptism with them. The pastor was getting practical as he was talking about raising children. As he was giving good advice about giving many hugs and making them a priority, I blurted out my new question. “What do I say when my children ask me about my past?” It’s not rated G. It’s not rated PG. I’m unsure about how much to reveal.

Obviously I’m not going to offer up details. And of course there is an age-appropriateness involved in the whole thing. But like I said, I have a 14-year-old. We have had many talks about purity, so she is pretty educated about sexual activity. And she is well aware of drug use. Although I don’t believe she has encountered much temptation yet in these areas. As much as Matt and I have tried to prepare her, I keep stumbling on my “premeditated” answer for the doozy question. Currently, she still has a somewhat godly picture in her head about her parents. Matt has stated that we have made mistakes that we do not want them to have to endure. Do we just keep it at that?

Do we tell her what we’ve done? Do we honestly answer in a vague way, and then explain some of the spiritual and emotional consequences of our past decisions? Of course, I’m not volunteering to offer up any information unless confronted. I vocalized in the class my fear of them thinking, “Well mom and dad have done it, and they turned out to have a good marriage.” My children don’t have parents that use illegal drugs or have any STD’s. And yet there is so much more to it beyond these fearful consequences. I don’t want them to think that it is just a matter of escaping the doozies.

The pastor pointed out a recent study that reveals telling your kids about your sinful past can make them more likely to commit the same sins. He said I may be right about them thinking that mom and dad turned out fine, so why not try it. Like a good little student I went home and did some research. The study shows that telling your children about your past drug use does make them more likely to try it themselves, even if you are using yourself as an example to teach a lesson.

So it has been on my mind. Do I rely on the study? I don’t want to lie. Is it really going to help my kids to only find out the truth as adults that I told them I was somebody I wasn’t? I do care about credibility in the relationship. And I don’t want to hinder the truth about God’s grace. Frankly, I am where I am now because despite myself, God has been gracious. Sure, there have been consequences. But I didn’t get what I deserved and I know it.

There are a couple of families in our church where the story has turned out a little different. There are some wonderful women that my kids know who have had their first child out-of-wedlock when they were young. The biological father is out of the picture and they are now remarried to men that have adopted their firstborn. Now they have more children together and function well as a Christian family. But it isn’t easy, of course. In fact, it can be very difficult. And yet God is still gracious.

But we should never be presumptuous with God’s grace. And teenagers are the ambassadors of presumption.

My kids also have very real examples of couples that are intentional about pursuing purity in their relationship. Their youth leader, whom they adore, is now engaged and has been upfront about the purposeful ways that he and his now fiancé have strived to keep one another pure (of course, I am using the word pure loosely here, not because of any specific acts committed, but because of the reality of our sinful conditions). And there are others.

Help me out, readers. How much of your past do you share with your children? What have been your experiences with these discussions as you raise teenagers?


[…] How Much of Your Past Do

[…] How Much of Your Past Do You Share with Your Children? by Aimee […]

Hi Aimee, My children

Hi Aimee,
My children are still young 5 and 7 and I as I lived fully in the world until I became Christian in my adult years, I have things that must be told them at some point and often wonder when that will be.
My comment though has less to do with that, and much to say about your citation of the study that you say "shows" something that it actually doesn't.
My education is in research and measurement and if my husband hadn't proposed my other life would have been a research scientist. You know the ones that design and run studies that supposedly "show" us something.
Anytime you hear an advertisement or article claim "studies show," or "research shows," then you are reading about research that is designed to see if there is a statistically significant relationship between two observable behaviors.
Now, to the part that it is important most important in order to benefit from research:
All we have are external behaviors that can be observed and hence measured. Measurement tools in psychology are varied, and the study that you cited is in the field of psychology so the following should help you understand a bit better before you cite studies to your readers in the future. I am positive that you would want to be as careful as possible to your own readership when using a study to support something.

These were found in Wikipedia and the definitions are correct according to scientific standards.

"Psychological testing is a field characterized by the use of samples of behavior in order to assess psychological construct(s), such as cognitive and emotional functioning, about a given individual. The technical term for the science behind psychological testing is psychometrics. By samples of behavior, one means observations of an individual performing tasks that have usually been prescribed beforehand, which often means scores on a test. These responses are often compiled into statistical tables that allow the evaluator to compare the behavior of the individual being tested to the responses of a norm group."

a sample is a collection or group that is trying to match the observed behavior the scientist is trying to measure. The group in the study you cited was trying to observe and measure Hispanics and why they are more likely to abuse drugs.

Principles of Psychological testing are as follows:
Standardization - All procedures and steps must be conducted with consistency and under the same environment to achieve the same testing performance from those being tested.

Objectivity - Scoring is free of subjective judgments or biases based on the fact that the same results are obtained on test from everyone.
Test Norms - The average test score within a large group of people where the performance of one individual can be compared to the results of others by establishing a point of comparison or frame of reference.

Reliability - Obtaining the same result after multiple testing.

Validity - The type of test being administered must measure what it is intended to measure.[10]

Now down to the nitty gritty of why it so important to understand studies.
In all of life there is interpretation, and in all of life we have hidden biases that create an interpretational bias that must be restrained. In the case of a psychological study, the scientist is both the one that creates the hypothesis and also the one that interprets the statistics, the results of the study.

This is very important, very very important.

The article that you cited does not show what you say it shows, and it doesn't show what Huffington Post says it shows. What the study did show was that latino parents are less involved in the daily lives of the children in the sample population that they questioned about drugs and usage.

It took me ten minutes to track down the abstract of the article itself and the study has nothing at all to do with your post, and also the pastor that cited it to a class should have refrained as well. It is alarming how the media skews and leaves out information and how easily it shapes our thoughts and how easily we believe what we hear from pastors.

If you were to think about it according to the principles that God's word gives us, then you must come to the same conclusion that I would. There will be a time that we have the duty to tell our children that we too are sinners and if it is appropriate (time, age and circumstance) then I can not lie to them about my past sins.

My children already know because I have told them that I am a sinner, and that I still deal with the same sins that they are struggling with. They have been told, because they ask about specifics, that now is not the time to explain some specifics because they are too young and that God says I must shelter them until they are old enough to understand what I am telling them.

I will leave with some specific things that I think need to be told when the time is appropriate:

1. Abortion
2. Divorce (I was divorced and remarried, but had not children have not been told this yet.)

We should not parent out of fear that our children will find out we are sinners.....we should proactively parent knowing that at some time our children will need to know that we understand the same pressures that they are struggling to overcome as Christians.

Sorry for the long post. I just thought on the eve of your writing to more than just a little tiny audience that you may find what I have to share with you important for your future listeners and reading audience.


Hola!~I've so appreciated

Hola!~I've so appreciated Rosaria Butterfield's book: The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert.~In the Q &A of this 2 part video she addresses this issue. Grace and Peace!

There are parts of my life I

There are parts of my life I share with no one apart from God, not my family, and not my spouse. If I was convinced sharing my past could bring about redemption, I wouldn't hesitate to do so.

If my children asked me a pointed question about my past, I'm not sure whether I would open up, or prevaricate. It's not that I'm concerned about "pleasing man", but whether my kids are mature enough to see beyond my sins. I couldn't at their age.

I am a new parent so I don't

I am a new parent so I don't have much advice but my own parents were very open with me at timely moments concerning their past especially my mom. As a teenage girl, it brought me closer to my mom and helped me to be more open with her in my own sin and asking for help. I have never felt fear or shame in being open with parents.

Aimee, I agree w/"Doc B"

Aimee, I agree w/"Doc B" (above). My first thought: each of your children is unique. There is no one-size-fits-all for any of us. Asking the Lord for wisdom & guidance about WHEN & IF to reveal to each of your children is the best way to approach this. Be encouraged: the Lord WILL show you!

I struggled with this issue for many years, having been saved out of MUCH! God revealed to me, after one of my older kids had stumbled in sin, that it was time to reveal most of my past to this child. I wanted him to know that I could relate to what he was dealing with, that my counsel to him was born out of the direct experience of suffering the consequences of deep sin as well as finding life in the forgiveness and grace of the Lord.

At the same time, I pulled my other older child into the conversation. I didn't want to reveal my past to one and not the other. I wanted them to hear, together, my story of God's past grace in my life. (So my kids were older before this conversation ever took place.)

A few weeks later, my son had a conversation w/a fellow student, an unbeliever. This lost young man told my son he wasn't sure God existed, that he didn't "see" God in creation, etc. After he listed his reasons for his unbelief, my son told him: "I've struggled w/those same things. And those areas aren't the things that point to the existence of God for me. I know that God exists BECAUSE OF MY PARENTS, BECAUSE OF HOW DIFFERENT THEY ARE. I hear of who my parents used to be, and I see who my parents are today, and I know that God has to exist b/c no one's life gets changed that drastically except by a powerful God."

And can I say that, what my children see in me as a parent is NOT some godly giant of the faith? They see a weak, fallen, still-so-sinful mom. But they see the difference that comes from a life of belief in a sovereign and full-of-grace-and-forgiveness God. This revelation made a huge impact on my son, and I do NOT regret sharing my past with him.

Going forward, I will continue to pray about WHEN & IF to share my past with my younger kids.

I think this is an excellent

I think this is an excellent model! (Of course, it's biblical.)

As a teenager who was beginning to face temptation in college, I never felt like I could talk to my parents. Even when I knew I was going in a bad direction, I felt I couln't ask them about this temptation and how to handle it. On the one hand, I was "sure" (in my teenage wisdom) that they had probably sinned in this area too... on the other, if I was wrong and they had stayed pure, they were going to be angry and judge me for even being tempted. When I got married, I vowed I would not hide this temptation and sin from my children. I want them to know how insidious and easy it is to fall into this, especially if you are not prepared.

Now, in retrospect, my parents were having a lot of problems in their marriage at this point, and hid it all from me for a long time. There was a lack of honesty all around anyway. I want to be honest with my children, and I want them to feel like they can talk to me about important things, even when they are 17 or 18. That starts now, when they are young, guiding them in the way they should go. But it does not mean giving details they are not ready for (they may not EVER need to know details).

I wrote a more lengthy reply,

I wrote a more lengthy reply, but accidentally deleted it! :(

Suffice it to say, I was on the daughter end of this issue, and I DID pursue patterns of sin that my parents had, thinking "it will all work out... in fact, on some weird level, my parents would probably be proud of me for it..."

So, I agree with the wisdom of the study. And, this scripture seems to sum it up nicely:

Ephesians 5:11-14

11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 ****It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.***** 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

Your questions encourage me to pursue parenting my own children in the Light, Aimee... Thank you!

We're sinners saved by

We're sinners saved by grace--not saints saved by our sanctification. Our children should get this from our daily living in the Gospel, without having to know all the gruesome details of our sins.

I hope these insights are as

I hope these insights are as edifying to you readers as they are for me, thank you!

We're approaching the place

We're approaching the place of more information possibly being needed or requested. And yes - have thought about this probably since the first one came along. (Nothing like innocence to remind one of your own lack of innocence LOL).

One thing we have tried to do is lay a foundation to build on. Making sure our children know we're not perfect - only One is. Asking for forgiveness when we've wronged them. Even this last week, when they said how much they missed me while away at camp, I reminded them how much greater their desire should be to never be away from the Father.

And we remind them that we're children too, who just happen to be older (and sometimes wiser!) than they are.

Ultimately, no one knows your children like you do - strengths, weaknesses, tendencies, how they process life, what they can and can't handle. It really does come down to the leading of God via His Spirit in terms of what to say, how to say it, and how much to say.

And like with everything else in life, we ultimately have to trust God. We're rarely going to say the exact right thing to anyone, but if we have done our best out of love and obedience, then "He'll take care of the rest." (thank you Keith Green)

Aimee, here is how Heather

Aimee, here is how Heather and I have been approaching it. Perhaps it will be helpful to you and your readers.

1. There are things that we have done that are sins that we want to help you children avoid even coming near. Here's how they started in our hearts and minds, and the first sinful choices that we should have repented of immediately. Let's work on the heart and the mind, and let's be sure to keep it out in the open, so we can repent quickly if we should make a poor choice.

2. But, knowing that what that sin grew into is so wicked that I wouldn't even have the descriptions of such things in your ears, the most important thing for you to know is that the righteousness and sacrifice of Christ have been far more than powerful enough to forgive them, and the sharing of Christ's life with the believer by the work of His Spirit is more than powerful enough to cleanse us from them completely in the end.

Beyond that, details are largely unnecessary. Just as they are largely unnecessary to speak in public or to those who are not the direct objects of your transgression.

The Bible is full of sins of great perversity, but spoken in language that hides the particular details from those who do not need them. Not only is this a pattern for you to follow in how you speak about such sin to your children. But, it also provides you objective, third-party material, from someone else's interaction with God, so that your own filthiest corruptions do not need to be the context in which you speak to your children about how to fight them, what Jesus has already done about them, and what Jesus promises to finish doing about them.

My daughter lived with a man

My daughter lived with a man for several years. They had no children. They split up and she found her soul mate and they married and have a lovely daughter who is 13 now. She said she was going to be honest with her about her past but I have no details. One thing she did tell me she was going to say to her, is that you never feel the same about yourself afterwards. I hope and pray that my granddaughter listens and learns so she won't have to lose years of her life doing things she will regret.

I respond honestly about

I respond honestly about whatever they ask about... or at times I'll volunteer information when it pertains to something they are struggling with. I believe that we teach our kids how to fail gracefully and how to not fail as badly as we did, as well as how to succeed. They need good examples of how to recover from sin as well as how to avoid it.

I have three girls between 18

I have three girls between 18 and 24. The best advice I've heard (and taken) about this problem is to introduce the topic by commenting on someone else's mistakes...that what they did is dangerous and can have terrible consequences, but you don't condemn them for it because it is not ours to judge; that you feel compassion for their difficult situation. That leaves the door open for questions, which you answer honestly but incompletely at first. Sometimes, kids just want to know if you will be honest with them, so that they can be honest with you, but they don't really want to know all the dirt. They may be looking for a safe way to open up a conversation on something that is bothering them. Give them a little truth at first, and let them ask for more if they want more. Ask them questions about what they think about the topic...try to have them do most of the talking. Most likely this is not about you and your mistakes; it's about them and something they are trying to process. Don't volunteer more than they want to hear, but don't hide the truth, either, and divert the discussion to the examples set by celebrities or people you know if you reach a point where your better judgment tells you not to go further. Kids WILL imitate their parents' mistakes, so discretion is wise.

Dear Aimee, So glad I came

Dear Aimee,

So glad I came upon your post (through Tim Challies). I am in just about the same boat you are - three daughters, one entering high school, one going into middle school, and the youngest going into grade three. My daughters' upbringing (so far) is so vastly different than mine, that I have been pondering writing a memoir to to them. My objective would be to reveal, not so much the sordidness of my past, but to hopefully help them see the massive grace that has been poured out into my life (and theirs). I am ashamed of so much of my past but, on the other hand, I am so deeply grateful and amazed with the work the Lord has done in my life these past 20 years. My hope would be that they would so much more appreciate their upbringing in a god-fearing, loving home. I am thinking we should share our past with our children - I think there is a tactful, God-honouring way to go about it - but I'm still working out what that is for me and my girls! I guess it comes down to what you're most comfortable sharing, and then trusting that the Lord will use it to build up and edify. I will pray for you as you pray through this!

A "biblical mandate that he

A "biblical mandate that he must love their Mom more than he loves them"? Where on earth is that in Scripture? There's no hierarchy of love delineated in the Bible for parents in relationship to each other or their children.

No wonder his kids were unable to handle the concept. It's unbiblical and ungodly.


If one has a child out of

If one has a child out of wedlock then, of course, that is not something that can be hidden and must be dealt with. However I am in the camp of keeping silent about past sins. My husband and I fornicated only with each other, but I have never told them. I have told them generally that we behaved in ways that were not right and did stuff we are sorry for, but we have never told them that we had sex. I don't think they need to know. I have five daughters all teen and young adults and we stress keeping their virginity and purity, but I don't see how telling them my failures will help them. If one of my daughters did fall into this sin then I might share with her how I dealt with this in my own life.

Dearest Aimee, (Please

Dearest Aimee,

(Please know that I don't have time to read the earlier posts...)

I can empathize with you as I have a 17 year old son and a 21 year old daughter. There's simply no easy answer for this but I will say that too much honesty at too young an age is never a good thing. I know of a very Godly man who shared with his young children the biblical mandate that he must love their Mom more than he loves them. The concept was far too abstract and complex for them. It was a mistake, and I think that likewise, for this subject too much information at a young age will fit quite well into the findings of the survey you mentioned regarding a child justifying a behavior because their parents survived it.

Regarding the survey, I agree with it wholly. I would apply its findings on a sliding scale with very high caution being applied at the young end, say 10-14 with a loosening of the policy as they mature and are better able to see and to understand our past peccadillos as good lessons for them learn from rather than experience as we did.

It is a difficult responsibility that God has put before us as parents. Our children are going to make mistakes. Let us put forth, before all the things that we do and say, our heartfelt prayers to the ultimate Parent of us all and find rest, recourse, and reassurance in His love and care.

In Christ,


This is beautiful, mom.

This is beautiful, mom.

My kids aren't old enough to

My kids aren't old enough to ask the tough questions yet, but during my own childhood, my mom was very honest and real about her past. Sometimes more so than my siblings and I would have liked. But she was very clear about the consequences of her, and other people's, sin. She made it sound very unappealing, and as a result, there were certain things we were definitely not interested in as we grew older. She also told us regularly that she was praying for us, specifically that the cycle of abuse, violence, alcoholism, etc., that she grew up with would end with my siblings and me. And by God's grace, it has. As much as we would have liked to shut our ears to the details of my mom's past, I believe if she hadn't been so open, we would have been more tempted to participate in the very things she was so desperate to keep us from.

It is from sin in my life,

It is from sin in my life, repenting, and God's precious Grace, that I am where I am today. When I finally realized how much He loves me, and how gracious He is, I wanted to serve Him. His response has always been to me..."Love the people". He has given me a heart for others that are in bondage . Growing up in a very legalistic christian home (my father is now a retired pastor), I lived among condemnation so as a teen, I rebelled. Thankfully, having accepted Christ as my Savior when I was younger, in those years of rebellion, He was in my heart and on my mind so I encountered drugs and alchohol but never became addicted to anything (tho I thought I wanted to). There by the Grace of God go I. He has given me a heart for others that are in bondage due to pain and emptiness in their lives. I love them and am involved in a ministry where we come along side those wanting to change their lives, one on one, we walk w/them and hopefully point them towards the Cross. Stauros minitries (the Cross). I doubt if I would have a heart for others in this way if I hadn't been through all the pain and heartache in my life. My children know of most of my past sins and failures and they have watched me turn from .."running from the Law (legalism) "falling into God's Grace". They have witnessed how through my past, God has given me a testimony and a desire to serve others for His Kingdom.
Was I a better parent than my own? No..I overcompensated and was too leanient. The lesson for our children...we are all sinners and we'll all sin in some way. Through repentence and God's Grace we all have a testimony to share with our children and those we meet along the way. We use discernment on how to share and how much of it to share. Each one is unique in some way and to God be all the glory for what He has done and continues to do in and through us!

My motto is : Mouth shut,

My motto is : Mouth shut, move forward. If we confess our sinful past it would go all the way up to yesterday. Yes, I'm sure we all did things ungodly before we were saved, but no one needs to dwell on those things. The good thing is that God saved you, and sanctified you. Your past is between you and your Lord, as is mine. We also sin after we are saved. We learn from our mistakes, but we shouldn't burden others with them.

I'm with Tim on this! I have

I'm with Tim on this! I have 3 teenagers right now.... Unless they really want to know! But even then, its more principles of a given set of circumstances I'd be prepared to chat over. They really don't want to know the detail of their parents cringeworthy or otherwise

I should add one caveat to my

I should add one caveat to my post: when you do share your past with your children, if it is sin, then be sure to describe it as sin, not as a mistake, a bad choice, a boys-will-be-boys thing, or something else culturally correct. Call sin, sin. Wear the shame. And where God was gracious in dealing with the sin, give Him the credit...don't take it for yourself.

All children are different. I

All children are different. I have twins, and they are more different from each other than they are from my other children.

Because of this, I don't think there is a formula to the correct way to handle this; I don't think that telling or not telling is by themselves the key to what's best for our children. I think we are to use our God-given wisdom as parents to know which kids to tell which things, and at what detail and depth; and I think there are some kids who are better off not knowing anything until they are adults (if even then).

I think boys respond differently than girls, particularly to revelations of a sexual nature. What 'grosses out' one may titillate the other. We should be especially careful in this area.

In the long run, if one is to make a mistake, I believe it should be on the side of 'not telling' rather than 'telling'. No one will ever be excused from a sin because their parents told them about the time they did the same thing, and no parent will be held responsible for a child's sin because the parent was guilty of the same sin earlier in life but didn't share the details. If as a parent, you believe sharing your story will encourage your child to avoid the same sin you once fell into, then tell. Don't leave out the consequences (including the consequences of the shame of having to tell your child what you did). If you are worried that you might end up encouraging them to try it out, since you seem to have gotten away with it, then don't tell.

In either case, pray for wisdom and step lightly.

(Nice to find your blog, btw.

(Nice to find your blog, btw. I found you via the Aquila Report. I'm a PCA pastor's wife and a native West Virginian!) I'm a few years ahead of you in the parenting saga. We've got some doozie history also, though perhaps not in the same particular categories as you. I don't have a pat answer; it probably differs from family to family, and esp. from child to child. I think (perhaps) it's better to tell them a hard history as children (like, elem. age) or as adults (20's), but not in the teen years. They don't need anything else to make decisions more confusing and difficult at that age!

I'll say this though -- when your kids actually WATCH you go through horrible trials and sins and do it well, it's hugely beneficial to them. A "history" that they experience first hand, and get to see God's redemption through it, speaks volumes more than any lecture from any parent. This I know. The thing is, your history is really personal to you. You lived it. It's really meaningful to you. Not so much to your kids. To them, (honestly) it will be a story. They will see it like other stories, maybe more interesting, but not really personal. Just my opinion. You tell them your history b/c you hope they will internalize it and say, "Wow! That speaks to me!" But I'm not sure that happens.

I agree that details might be

I agree that details might be called for in some instances, but I wouldn't go so far as to conclude that kids taking it as license to go do likewise means the parents didn't tell the story right. You can tell stories completely right and people will twist them to their own ends. Happens all the time with the gospel.


It strikes me that in the

It strikes me that in the Bible there are many cases in which sons and daughters must have known about their parents' failings, large and small. These sins were part of their past, part of their real lives, and therefore, part of their story.

Obviously you will want to use discretion when it comes to detail, but I don't see any reason to sugarcoat the past and to pretend that you never sinned and struggled. If you tell the story in such a way that the moral is "my parents did that and are still saved; therefore I can do that..." you probably haven't told it right. I think my approach would be to allow them to ask, and to answer honestly (though with incomplete detail) if they do ask.

Aimee, our kids are 23 and 20

Aimee, our kids are 23 and 20 now. We never volunteered details of our pasts with them, and frankly they didn't ask. What kid wants to know those details about their parents, anyway? ("Eeww, you did that? Yuck!") I hope they've each avoided the mistakes I've made, but I am not under the impression they've avoided making any mistakes at all. My advice, now that you've asked, is to be less detailed on your history of mistakes and more detailed on your history with God.


These comments are so

These comments are so helpful--keep 'em coming!

Hey Aimee, tough questions.

Hey Aimee, tough questions. I think it is your prerogative to share or not share as it seems appropriate to you with your children but I believe (and I hear echos of this in other commentors) that God uses our weaknesses to display His glory; that grace only comes to those who need it. I believe those surveys are true but only tell one side of the story. Despite our best parenting efforts I believe for those people who want to experiment with sin they will find any excuse to do it, or even for those mature believing kids, sometimes a moment of weakness in temptation happens. So the question becomes, not if they will sin, but who will they turn to afterwards when they are convicted? Will they remember how merciful God is in restoring believers who've sinned or will they hide their shame in disgrace because they don't know how truly merciful God is? Could God use your sin and His mercy towards you to provide the example of Grace for your children to lean on in their lives? I remember growing up with very clear expectations of not messing up in the areas of sex and drugs. When I did fall short I couldn't bear the thought of going to my parents because I had let them down, failed to live up to their expectations, and instead buried my guilt and shame, ran from God. God has since shown me much grace and healed me but my hope and prayer now is that my kids will understand, through my failures, that our God is the God of mercy. I still expect my kids to strive for holiness, but not to the point of slavery to perfection, in that they live with both the desire for holiness but the realistic understanding that they are sinners in a fallen world who constantly need God's grace. I don't plan on just sharing all the details of my life the moment they turn 13 but instead to be prayerfully discerning when those moments that my kids may need to hear encouragement about God's grace through my failures. And my belief is that God will restore my failures even more through those moments.

I really appreciate this

I really appreciate this discussion! My daughter was three when I married my husband, and he is the only dad she has known. Right now (she's 5), it's sweet and simple for her to accept that he's her father, but I know one day there will be lots of questions, both about her biological father and about the choices I made. I also have had opportunities to speak/write about God's rescuing grace in my life and know that someday she will have the opportunity to hear/read those words, which terrifies me. But I also grew up in a sort of "don't ask, don't tell" environment, and I want to foster transparency and honesty with my children. I'm glad I have many years before having to really enter into this, and I hope you parents of teenagers will keep writing about your experiences for the rest of us. ;)

My three oldest children are

My three oldest children are in their twenties (still have two at home) and I have, from an early age, openly admitted my past addictions and failures to all of them. I believe it has helped them to see WHY I love Jesus ,as I have been forgiven much. Several times, one older child or another, would call me in tears, expressing "moral failure" because they understood the grace of God.( In my past, I would have hidden my failure and lied about it.) I am so thankful that they are able to run back to the Cross , admit their failing, and get back on the right path.

Well, clearly I need to be

Well, clearly I need to be thinking about this subject. My first thought in the middle of reading this was 'Wow! so glad Aimee's kids are a titch older than mine!' With the second thought of 'Oh, rats! This is going to happen to me at any moment.' Some serious pondering is now beginning...

they will learn that there is

they will learn that there is nothing hidden from the eyes of The Lord. It does not help children to know your hidden junk because that is what it is-junk. This world is not their home, this culture is not their friend, and they have a real enemy called "the accuser of the brothers".

Hello! What you have 'done in

Hello! What you have 'done in your past' is between you and God. That is who you are accountable to. I have a 19 yr old and 21 yr old, and I never told them anything specific EXCEPT the fact that no one was personally investing in me by encouraging my efforts towards God and understanding His ways. I believe strongly that when you cultivate an awareness of who they truly are accountable to, "a God of seeing"

Aimee, I have been really up

Aimee, I have been really up front with my children about my sinful past. I've talked to them about the sin and consequences I faced. I had Taylor out of wedlock and was pregnant with William when I married Brad. They know about it, because lying to them about how many years we'd been married seemed silly. I've also spoken to them about my former drug use and alcohol abuse. I've used them as examples of God's grace to show them that despite my rebellion God has given me new life. What I have found is that it opens the door for my children to come to me. They know I've struggled, and they know I'll understand the temptations they face. Not every situation is the same. I think there is more danger in them thinking we were great kids, and that they'll never meet the standard. That's just my personal opinion. If you have questions about how much I exposed to them feel free to PM me. I hope this helps.

This is so hard to respond to

This is so hard to respond to for me....I still ask the same questions!

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