Parent / Teen Connection Part 2: Airing Dirty Laundry

I’ll never forget the day I realized my parents were not perfect.  It was a glorious day.  One I will always remember and cherish.  For the sake of my endless love of my adoring and supportive parents I will NOT be disclosing all the stories my parents shared with me that day.  I do, however, want to share the lasting impact it had on me and how desperately I wished it had happened years earlier.

I spent most of my adolescence hiding from my parents.  I was afraid to tell them about anything real that I struggled with or any of the “less than perfect” decisions I was making.  I chose not to talk to them simply because I was ashamed.  I had enough guilt and self hatred to deal with that I didn’t want to see it through their eyes as well.

As I sat there years later, in Grand Central Station with my Dad and my best friend, I listened to all his stories of when he was a teenager or about when he and my mom were first dating and it hit me…”wait!  I thought they were perfect!  Well at least perfect enough to judge ME accordingly…”  They weren’t.  They aren’t.  I just wish my young brain had figured that out early enough to give myself some gusto to be able to talk them and include them in my life.

My prayer for parents of teens is that they would air out their dirty laundry to their kids.  I get it, maybe not ALL of it.  But a few chosen “dirty” items might help your child see and relate to you.  To see you as someone who understands and doesn’t judge.  Guide YES.  Pray for YES.  Help Discern YES.  But the perfect parents have got to go.

It may sound trite, but I let my kids put me in timeout.  On a rare occassion I let my husband put me in timeout too.  Mommy falls off the handle too and I want my kids to know that I make mistakes.  In fact, I am in the business of mistake making.  But I also want them to see the precious art of learning from them.

Would I have changed my own teenage decisions had my parents taught me about their own tumultuous years?  I cannot be sure.  What I CAN be sure about is that I definitely would have listened and I definitely would have thought about it.  How can I be so confident?  Because I could sit here and list for you, in detail, one by one, every single story my parents have ever told me about their own adolescence.  They made me feel freer.  They made me feel not alone.

Its ONE of the many many things I love about the Bible so much.  We are not given a series of stories about perfect people who have perfectly perfected their faith.  We are shown the struggles, the sins, and stories that have brought God’s people, His followers, humbly to the foot of the Cross.  God knows the wisdom we glean from hearing about the journeys that bring us to Him.  May your journey minister to someone today.

I wonder…did your parents ever share a story with you that made all the difference in your life?

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