Should I Tell My Kids the Truth About Why Family is Never Around?

Reader’s Question:

 I didn’t have the best childhood. As an adult, I chose to leave it behind and start anew. I am now very happily married with three beautiful children, children who are starting to ask questions about why we don’t have any family around. I do not feel that we are ready for the conversations of why my family isn’t around and often I change the subject without even a fake answer. In addition to the lack of “family,” I am an incessant hermit, which does not help much with “the family is what you make of it,” because I don’t do that well either. This has now become pillow talk on a nightly basis and I am at wit’s end on what to say to my children so that my husband will stop nagging me. Thanks.

Well, I feel ya.

I’m sure many people, more than you and I both realize, understand. The truth is there is no right or wrong answer and it’s your choice (and the hubby’s of course) to release or withhold as much information as you feel necessary, but kids aren’t stupid. They go to school or have neighbors and they eventually figure out the world is not a perfect place. Not everyone lives in the best environment.

There is no shame in saying, “hey, I didn’t have the best childhood and as an adult, I don’t consider those people from that part of my life to be my family.”

Or try, “sometimes as an adult, you have to make hard decisions, like removing yourself from the lives of people and places that are not good for you.”

I’m all about keeping kids innocent, but too many kids today don’t know how good they have it. Children are increasingly entitled and ungrateful. They don’t realize what we as parents go through to make their life comfortable on a daily basis. If you don’t want to say much, fine, keep it simple, but say something that is honest and to the point.

I assume you want your kids to become strong adults with strong morals and deep character. Growing as a person requires us to leave our comfort zone. Admitting to your kids that your family will never be around because they are not good people will be hard for them, as honest reasons often are.

Ask yourself though, how does withholding the truth help them? Do you think your kids can’t handle the truth? Why? Wouldn’t you rather your children learn a lesson from the hardships you endured as a child? Wouldn’t you like to show them how you overcame serious difficulties and now are able to give them the life you always wanted?

I’ll bet your husband is proud of you. I’ll bet he admires the person you are more because he knows how tough you are. He knows how strong you are. There is nothing wrong with your kids slowly learning/feeling/knowing the same thing.

The world could use strong leaders with depth of character. It starts with parents. We need to be real with our kids.

Do not be ashamed of where you have come from. That was not your choice. You have chosen a better life for your kids than was decided for you. Share that!

Personally, I believe in nearly full disclosure. Exact details of situations do not need to be told or relived, but I get the idea across. I didn’t have the best childhood either. Over the years, I have grown, matured, and healed. I am stronger than ever and not afraid of people – including my children who are 16 & 12 – to know what I went through. Where I came from shaped who I am today…the good, the bad, and the very anxious.

I do not live with shame. I do not live with the guilt. Being open feels great and freeing. Perhaps sharing with your family will help with your hermit ways.

Not everyone is willing to work and move forward in order to free themselves from their past. It can be brutal.

In the end, these are your kids and you must decide what you are comfortable with and what you are not. Parent-Child relationships are all about boundaries and so set them and move forward.

Remember, as corny as it sounds…Honesty is the best policy! (Honesty with a dab of vagueness for the younger kids, of course.)



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