We want desperately to keep our kids from making the same mistakes we did -- but that doesn’t mean we have to reveal everything we’ve ever done wrong! Here are just a few of the things you can keep in the vault:
You bust your teenager for smoking pot, it opens up a discussion about the dangers of drugs -- and your child asks, “Did you ever smoke pot when you were my age?”
Experts disagree about full disclosure: you could deny ever having tried marijuana so you don’t justify your teen’s behavior -- or you could risk looking like a hypocrite and admit that you smoked weed as a teenager.
This may not be the ideal moment to be 100 percent honest. Rather it's a good time to reinforce your position as a parent and a figure of authority -- not as a friend with similar stories to share.
You were in college, went to a party with your girlfriends and drank too much. You woke up in bed with a guy the next morning -- and the events of the night before were hazy at best. You can't recall much, but you're pretty certain there was nothing safe about the sex that likely took place.
Thankfully, you made it through the ugly incident without contracting an STD or an unwanted pregnancy and learned a hard and fast lesson about drinking and unprotected sex.
These are not the types of images you want to sear into your child's brain. Instead of spilling your guts and confessing the whole bad memory, discuss the concepts around what happened without delving into the details.
Remember, your goal is not to unite yourself with your teen in spirit ("We're in this together!"), it's to discuss dangers that may present themselves to your child and how he or she can be prepared to stay safe in a variety of situations.
Are you a single parent who's back on the dating scene? If so, your kids may be really curious about your relationships.
Don't talk to the kids about your adult interactions. You don't have to lie about your dating activity -- but you should be choosy about the kind of information you disclose.
Marital (and divorce) disputes
Married couples fight. Divorced couples fight. It's normal. And there's nothing wrong with the kids witnessing some of your differences.
But if there are big adult issues on the table -- money trouble, infidelity -- keep them among the adults. Your children, even if they're teenagers, should not be burdened with adult problems.
Most kids are loyal and protective of their parents and it's hard for them to choose sides where Mom and Dad are concerned. No matter how frustrated you are with your spouse (or ex), don't unload it on your kids. It's not fair.