I read a quote from her book that has changed the way I have been relating to my kids. “If I could tell my mother and father something and they promised not to interrupt or pass judgment or yell, I would tell them all the times I’ve lied to them, the times I said I was going places that I never went, how I told them all about movies I’d never seen. I would tell them about my last relationship, the stuff that they don’t know. I would tell them about the time when we left the school dance and went to a secluded spot in the woods and how he tried to make me do things I didn’t want to do and how he pressured me more than I could take. I would tell them how I cried myself to sleep every night and how he told me I was nothing and didn’t deserve anything, how he told me that I was a hypocrite whenever I wouldn’t do things sexually, how I came so close to losing my virginity. I’d tell my mom that her stupid curfew kept me safe. I’d tell them how he left bruises on my arms and how when I asked him if he loved me, he would say, “I guess so, as much as anyone really can.” I would tell them I was sorry for breaking the rules, for bending them and wanting them changed. I would tell them that even though I thought the rules were stupid then, they kept me safe. I’d tell my parents that because of them, I am ok now.” Amber, age 17. (T. Suzanne Eller, Real Issues, Real Teens, p. 96 -97, Cook Communications Ministries, Colorado Springs, Colorado)
I read this paragraph to one of my teens and they said they totally agreed. They had wanted to tell me stuff – some of it things that happened a long time ago – but they were afraid I would freak out or punish them. I then asked them if I promised to not freak out, would they trust me. They agreed. After they shared with me, I hugged them, we cried together and I told them I was more proud of them than ever before. I have a new relationship with my child.
I encourage you. No, I beg you. Make sure your kid knows that you love them NO MATTER what. I often tell my kids, “There is nothing you would do that would ever make me stop loving you. I may not like what you have done, but I will never turn my back on you or stop loving you.” I think that has helped to lay the ground work for this conversation.
Give it a shot. Give your kids the opportunity to be totally honest with you. Don’t freak out if they do. They live in a culture that is completely different from what we know; we need to set aside our experiences in order to be a part of theirs. Go for it. Get to know your kids. They really want you to!