There are tons of us parents in recovery, I’m sure, who have children who will eventually want to know the whats, whens, and hows of our pasts. It does bring up some interesting questions, though: What should I say, how much should I share, et cetera, and bodes the ultimate question: If we expect our children to be honest with us, doesn’t it behoove us to do the same? Granted, a full drunk-alogue or drug-alogue is certainly not okay, but an honest sharing of our trials and tribulations while maintaining healthy parent-child boundaries can have some real value. Allowing our children to glimpse our fallibility shows them that we are human, imperfect, and capable of making mistakes; it provides them with a sense of transparency about our lives and creates a natural teaching moment. In the end, it will provide a basis with how they’ll interact with us as they enter adulthood.
Some key do’s and don’ts of talking about your teens about past experiences:
Don’t avoid or change the subject.
Don’t lie or fabricate the truth.
Do keep communication lines open whether your teen is acting appropriately or not.
Do always tell them the truth.
Do talk about your past with appropriate boundaries and common sense.
None of this is easy, but if we take the gauntlet of honesty and integrity and provide an open door of communication for our teens, we can foster stronger, deeper, more meaningful parent-child relationships, especially during the tough times.
If you are a parent of a teen in trouble, or know someone who is, an adolescent treatment facility may be the best step to opening the door to healing and rebuilding the parent-child bond.