When I Would Tell My Child About My Past
We all have a past. For some of us our pasts have more of a story to it than others, but since we’re all sinners, we all fall short. So we walk through this life with some past choices that were not in line with the will of God. No one is exempt from this.
But when you become a parent it’s hard to discern when to share things with your children and when not to. One mom in particular is dealing with this concern.
Here’s her story…
I was raised in church my entire life. My parents taught me from a young age not just about Christ, but how to live in him and have a relationship with Christ. In high school I started living for the world and not of God. I was consumed by trying to be the popular girl. So, it started the long road of disobedience. Once college came, I was so far away from where God wanted me to be. I started dating the worldly guys. I got very serious very fast with one, and soon we were talking about our future. After a year of dating, I found out I was pregnant. My life was turned upside down. You can imagine how it went, and the whole 9 months of being pregnant out of wedlock. We got married when our baby was 6 months old. Since then, my hubby has been saved and our daughter is now 5 1/2 years old. She has started asking questions of why we had her before we got married. She has been taught what the bible says about being married first, but now it’s raising questions for her.
How do I explain to her we had her first because we disobeyed God? I want her to hopefully learn from this, but not sure how to handle the situation.
A Scared Mama Seeking Guidance
Dear Scared Mama,
All mamas have a similar concern as you since we all live a less than perfect life. We’re known sinners, so please know that you’re not alone in your situation.
The first question I ever ask a wife who comes to me seeking answers in regards to parenting is this….
“What does your husband have to say about this?”
So make sure you talk with him first and get his input especially since he’s part of the story! (By the way, this one little habit of asking your husband his thoughts before anyone else’s will encourage your husband to assume a leadership role in your family.)
My man and I always consider our boys’ maturity level when we’re addressing a topic.
Where are they…
What we typically find is when our boys are asking us questions, then that is when they are ready to learn. But that doesn’t mean they are ready to hear the whole story! (And some details of sin is not something that everyone needs to hear!) 🙂
Since it’s obvious to your daughter that her birth came before the wedding, then I would tell her the truth. Children want truthful parents, not hypocrites.
Tell her you didn’t follow God’s path during your teen years and you went through some very difficult times. A 5 year old child won’t have the emotional and spiritual maturity to understand how you felt when you got pregnant so there’s no point in sharing that part of your story with her now.
But I would make sure that she knows that she is a gift from God and that the Lord makes all things work together for good.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. James 1:17
But if she just happens to be a curious child like the one I have, 🙂 I usually tell him he’s not ready to hear some of my testimony yet but in due time we’ll clue him in! (Side note here: when my boys were 11 and 13 yrs. old, that was when my husband and I told them we were married before. They knew I had a past before I came to Jesus but they didn’t know what it was. My eldest told me he thought I probably killed someone and went to jail for it! lol Although he knows his mother’s fiery personality well, that’s not something I ever did!)
As a mom it’s so easy for us to feel a little awkward when our children start asking us questions about our past, but what I’ve found in my role as a mom is this:
My heart as an imperfect mom is to shepherd my kids to the Perfect Shepherd. We tell our kids all. the. time. that we are poor shepherds, meaning, we will fall, make mistakes, disappoint them, let them down, and screw up. But our hearts are for them to see Jesus in us and to make Him their Savior like He is ours.
Jesus is the Perfect Parent, I am not. I don’t need to be perfect when I parent my kids. Some attributes that I need are to be loving, humble and gracious towards my children so they’ll want to embrace my Savior. And I need to pray for discernment when I lead them. I gauge the heart of my children and study them to see when they are ready for some deeper truths. Sharing our own faults and failures are some GREAT lessons for our children. No one knows them better than we do and no one loves them as much.
So don’t stress out about your testimony. God has redeemed you, and your husband may have come to the Lord as a result of all that you’ve been through. When your daughter gets older then you can share with her about what you went through as a teen in hopes that she will follow the Lord during those difficult years.
I realize that your love story is not neatly packaged as you’d like, but it’s your story and the story of how God is working in your life. Your goal as a mom is for your child to see Jesus in you so you can lead her to Christ.
Live a poured out life for Christ,
I love what you’ve written here. It’s so hard to think about wanting to protect my kids from the things I went through myself (and to tell my kids about how God was pursuing me through my years of rebellion), but also wondering whether hearing about my sins will lead them to believe that sinning is “no big deal” – after all, mom has been forgiven, right? That’s the thing that scares me the most. I want to teach that actions have consequences, but I wish I were a better example of faithfulness through difficult times. What do you think – is that a place for Christian biography? Any recommendations? Thanks for giving me more to think about. I appreciate you. 🙂
I totally know where you’re coming from, Jeni! As my boys get older, my husband and I move more into a mentoring role with them (him more so than me being that they are guys.) The parenting relationship shifts a bit as they mature. We are no longer just training through the tantrums but also pointing out how the Enemy wants them to fall and walk away from the Lord. We show them both paths; the wise one and the foolish one and let them know it’s their choice as to what path they want to take. We take a proactive approach to share the consequences and the blessings from either path. And sometimes we use our own poor choices as examples. 🙂 I hope this helps!
That was very good advice. I have encountered some of the same issues with my girls and you are right just bring them back to the fact that they are a gift from God and that He had a perfect plan in it all. He is so good!!
God is a redeeming God!
You are wise to suggest considering the child’s emotional and spiritual maturity. I prayerfully waited until my daughters were older teens and struggling with some dating issues to share my story. I hope it helped my girls know that while their mama wasn’t perfect, and very human (and lost), that they could learn from my mistakes and make better decisions. Transparency and a lack of embarrassment (at least on the outside) is important.
Yep, transparency is key! (As well as the lack of embarrassment). 🙂
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