I’ve got to come clean--sometime. One day I’ll have to tell them the truth that their mother is full of inconsistencies and has dabbled yes, more than once, with the very things I insist that they don’t. I’m afraid if I don’t come out with my dirty little secret that Mommy is wrought with duplicity—an outright fraud—they’ll discover it on their own one day. And that won’t be a good thing.
Let me clarify: I was not a juvenile delinquent, never spent time in addictions rehab, engaged in illegal sexual conduct or practiced voodoo. I was not a bad kid -- rebellious and as stubborn as an ox, but always an overachiever academically and athletically. That said, at times I enjoyed partaking in those very activities that could bring potential ruin to a child with a different disposition or predisposition.
Having studied psychology and experienced life on many fronts, the parental preaching comes naturally; it’s when they begin questioning me—wanting to know about my pre-mommy “stuff.” For heavens sake, my eldest is 9, still believes in the tooth fairy, has yet to blush her first crush, and is grossed out by cigarettes. I want her to stay naive as long as possible, yet with each subsequent question she fires at me, I cringe with discomfort—not knowing how to answer. What’s better—to lie, tell an “age-appropriate version” of the truth or evade the question entirely?
My kids are fearful of drugs and all they entail. They’ve heard about it ad nauseam at school, on television, radio and we’ve gone out of our way to show them how people transform when addicted. An early Sunday morning drive through certain neighborhoods shockingly reveals downtrodden folks crawling their way out into the blinding sunlight. With pain written all over their weary faces, it is a great testimony for the kids to witness firsthand what life is like for these people.
When my kids ask me if I ever tried drugs, what should I say? “Of course, I did Honey. And in moderation, with a good head on your shoulders, a little marijuana every now and then is not that big of a deal.” Oh, I’m sure that wouldn’t go over well! It’s the antithesis of the very message they’re constantly subjected to: “Just say NO to drugs,” i.e. don’t even try it, ever.
I’ve trained my girls to be very modest. I’m still working on the boys. My eldest, a 9 year-old girl, is just entering pre-puberty and is full of curiosity mixed with bashfulness. She and her 7 year-old sister are very appropriate and conservative in their interactions with boys. They constantly ask me what is correct behavior-wise, (I never cared to ask my mom such things!) when was my first kiss, boyfriend, etc. I try to answer them with some distorted notion of the truth, but at the same time, have this nagging desire to keep them sheltered from the fact that Mommy experienced her first crush at age 8!
Respect for parents
I fought a lot with my mom growing up. Beginning in my preteen years, I was often defiant and disrespectful. On the other hand, I demand that my children address us, their parents, properly and do not tolerate any backtalk. I feel shameful for expecting such treatment, aware of the mouth I had on me as a youngster. I try to comfort myself with the idea that each generation is an improvement from the last.
Television and Computer Games
As a parent, I shy away from purchasing computerized games and electronic toy gadgets, and direct my kids outside to play instead. I don’t like it when they’re inside zoning out in front of a screen. They don’t seem to mind and in fact, prefer to play sports, dolls, and engage in all sorts of imaginary play which involves dismantling my furniture. I, on the other hand, have become obsessed with my writing and online networking. As a disorganized Aquarius, I am guilty of neglecting the needs of my flesh-and-bone loved ones as I spend inordinate amounts of time at my keyboard.
I own my hypocritical behavior and have confessed my past and present sins. In all honesty, I don’t think I turned out that bad despite all my “dabbling” --yet perhaps, that is not the logic I should impart upon my children. So the question is: how do I broach such sensitive real-life topics with my inquisitive kids as they mature and grow increasingly curious about my life and their own?
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