As much as we may love being mothers, there is so much more to all of us. We all have a story to tell. And because our children play such a prominent part in our life, we’d like for them to know us as more than just “Mom”. But where do we begin? Sharing your life story with your kids is a great way to reveal a more complete version of yourself as you build your relationship with them. So get ready to “tell it like it was”, because it’s one of the most important and rewarding things you can do as a parent!
Why Your Life Story Matters
Have you ever noticed how, when someone tells you a story about their life, you feel an instant connection? Sharing in such a way creates a personalized experience that leads to greater intimacy. But perhaps you doubt that your own kids would be interested in the details of your youth. You might fear that they won’t want to hear about events that shaped your personality and affected your character. But the truth is, young children usually look to their parent for clues on which to model their own behaviors and beliefs. Likewise, older kids crave affirmation and support when facing difficult choices and growing into adulthood. Sharing your life story with your kids is an excellent way to bring about more connection. And it can ultimately open the doors to more meaningful conversations between them and you.
Sharing Your Life Story With Your Kids Requires Courage and Honesty
In all likelihood, certain aspects of your life may be hard to share with your kids. We’ve all made mistakes and done foolish things in our lives. Mothers are not perfect people. So for the sake of transparency, drop the halo! Your children will respect you more if you are real with them and not some cookie cutter image of what you think a parent should be. All of this, of course, requires courage and honesty on your part.
I’ll never forget the time I shared a particularly embarrassing and painful moment from my past with my daughter. It took all the courage I had to tell her the truth about something I had done. Something for which I was not proud. Something that probably made me look like a bad person. But you know what? After expressing her surprise, she thanked me for telling her. You see, I had let her off the proverbial hook of perfection! She saw for perhaps the first time that I was a real person. I was someone who made mistakes but still turned out okay. Sharing this experience from my life story took the pressure off and helped my daughter embrace her own imperfections. I was glad that I told my story, because I knew it had impacted her in a meaningful way.
Be Sensitive to Their Needs as You Share
Before I go further with this, let me mention one important caveat. You don’t have to feed your kids every last detail of your personal experiences. But neither should you feel you have to edit everything out or paint a rosy picture of your life just for the sake of looking good. Pay close attention to their reactions as you’re sharing. If you notice any discomfort in their demeanor, maybe it’s best to reframe your words or save that story for another day. And make sure that you keep in mind age appropriate explanations and language. Sharing your life story with your kids takes effort and focus, but it will be worth it in the end.
Sharing Your Life Story With Your Kids Develops Trust
Becoming more relatable and real is only one of the many benefits of sharing your life story with your kids. If you are truly transparent with them, you will be building better trust in your relationship as a whole. Once they see that it’s safe for you to share with them, they are more likely to reciprocate. Since we often understand ourselves better by verbalizing our feelings, being a good listener when your child is speaking is very important. As they sort things out openly in your presence, he or she may ask you help them determine appropriate actions to take. Your encouragement and support will ultimately help your kids navigate their lives with more self-confidence.
Sharing Your Life Story With Your Kids Increases Insight
You won’t have all the answers here. However, you do have the ability to share your life story in ways that show empathy for your child’s situation. If, for example, your child is going through problems at school, perhaps being bullied or teased, telling your own story about how this happened to you in third grade demonstrates that you truly fathom what they are going through. Moreover, you can explain how you felt and how you finally handled the situation. Hopefully, this will stimulate conversation and help your child consider new perspectives and possibilities. Sharing your life story with your kids can provide valuable insight, helping them both understand your personal decisions as well as make better choices in their own growth toward adulthood.
Recording Your Life Story for Future Generations
Sharing your life story with your kids through direct conversation will definitely help them know you better and improve your current relationship. But you might also consider creating a more permanent record of your thoughts. You needn’t be especially talented to put together a “memory book” with selected stories, anecdotes, and milestones from your life. Your kids will most likely treasure such a collection someday, long after they recall your spoken words.
My mother passed on several years ago, but she started such a book. Unfortunately, she never finished it, but I at least have some of her words in her own handwriting and I cherish them. I intend to do this for my own family so that even those children who are born in future generations will also know me.
If you don’t choose to write things down, why not make a voice and/or video recording of most significant moments in your life? Current technology provides so many ways to preserve our history. Take advantage of any methods you can to preserve your memories. Whatever you decide, just know that you can impact your kids with your life story today — and make a lasting impression on them for years to come!
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of The We Spot, its employees, sponsors, or affiliates.