I watched the movie Caroline with the babysitter and now I am really scared," my son blurted out. It turns out he didn't want to tell me because he was afraid I would be upset that he watched a scary movie.
"Oh, I understand that." I said. "When I was little I took something from the store and I was terrified to tell my mom, but I also felt horrible because I knew stealing was wrong. So I carried around all this guilt that I didn't need to have because my mom wasn't mad at me when I was finally honest."
As parents, we are often afraid to tell our children the "bad" things we have done because we are worried that they will somehow think it is okay for them to do those same things. But, research shows that this is not the case.
When you share with your child the mistakes your have made and the things you have tried, you are helping them learn from your experience. And, you are normalizing their feelings and emotions. This is such a priceless gift that we can give our kids.
None of us have to do life alone. So, be open and honest with your kiddos in a way that is appropriate for their age.
When I left my son's room tonight he said, "Goodnight! I feel SO much better!" What a gift for both of us.