Telling children the truth?

Inside Barbara’s head:

I read Dare to Dream today, a blog by Whitney Johnson. Whitney had just read book called Night Journal by Elizabeth Crook that started her thinking about writing about our lives and encourage our children to read our worik. Her question, “With the proliferation of blogs, do we risk telling a story that is so glammed up that our posterity will fail to know our true story?”

I thought that maybe she had a good point. If we are going to set the blog up with the idea that we are going to inspire our children to make their own realities, are we setting them up if we just tell the good things? We do not want our successes to be a burden or a hindrance. In our world we saw our lives as just a small step in the right direction. We just hoped our children would take the next step and their children the next. I suppose, is the very fine line we walk.

On the other side of the “glammed up life” there is the “grim truth” we could share. When my children were growing up, I was very careful what I told them about my past life. I was married at 19. I did not necessarily want any of my children to get married that young. If they had, it would have been fine. But I did not want them to do it because they were emulating me. The details of teen age life, dating or any other personal information was not shared with them. Their reality needed to be their very own…not a copy of mine or my husbands. For example, if I had been a poor mathematician or reader I would never have told them. I think children take that as permission to fail. I would never have told them about unruly behavior that had gone unpunished or antics that were less than desirable. The conversation was about what they were doing and how they might accomplish their goals. I did help them anyway I could and I wanted them to know the “now me” not as I had been 10 or more years ago.

I have nothing to be ashamed of and do have a lot to be proud of. I graduated from college in three years. I loved college. My grades were not perfect but they reflected all the effort I put into study and learning. My husband graduated from college with straight “A’s” the last two years of his college life and has a masters in education and certification to be a superintendent of schools in Oregon. If my children even knew that, it was only because of what we did in our daily lives. At least that was what we intended.

Still I think Whitney has a point. If we set out to write for the benefit of our children we need to be honest. It is very much like the minister of your church preaching one thing from the pulpit and going home to live a life that does not follow his own sermons. If we can talk the talk we must be able to walk the walk! If we suffer because of past experiences and need to write about them maybe we should do that privately in a diary. If we won the Pulitzer Prize, maybe we should live our private lives with our children as though it never happened or was just a passing event in a down to earth life.

Sunday morning ramblings. Thanks for reading.



One thought on “Telling children the truth?

  1. Thanks Barbara. I’ve recommended my readers come to your post. I hope they do. I especially liked your last line… If we win the Pulitzer prize perhaps we do our children a favor if we act as if we hadn’t.Another reader went on to express her concern that perhaps we sometimes under-inspire.There is no easy answer is there. But in the thinking about it, I think we find the right answer.Whitney

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