Once you’ve covered the basics for yourself in preparing for difficult times, you’ll have completed the second-most-important part of helping your teen prepare for difficulties in his or her own life. While it’s necessarily the first step, even more important is actually sharing your process with your teen.
It’s been said that a flower can grow in either a greenhouse or a front yard, but the one that grows in the front yard brings more joy to others. The same is true of the person who lets others in on what has helped them cope and survive life’s storms. Our teens need to see a living, breathing example of resilience so they have something to follow. If we don’t share some of our struggles and how we deal with them, our teens will be likely to make some pretty poor assumptions.
They’ll Assume It’s Easy for You
When we’re in a tough spot, we all tend to get pretty self-centered. Remember that old adage about if-all-our-troubles-were-put-in-a-brown-paper-bag-we’d-pick-our-own? It isn’t always true, is it? Sometimes, we really do have to deal with our worst-possible-case-scenario, which is different from person to person.
If our teens don’t know what we’ve been through, or how certain situations have affected and tempted us, there won’t be an opportunity for us to share what we’ve learned and how we’ve grown in and through those times. In sharing our stories, we give our teens a connection with a real-life example of survival and development during difficult times, inspiring them to think they can get through their own hard times.
They’ll Assume They’re Worse
Often, we fail to expose our private thoughts or wishes to the light of day (or the ear of another person) because we assume others don’t struggle with such dark or godless or selfish thoughts. Transparency with our children is a tricky thing; it can undermine our authority or reduce their respect for us, if we’re not careful. And their trust has to be earned.
But when we share some of the ways in which we’ve been tempted in the past, we’re not risking as much, and we can evaluate whether our children are mature and trustworthy enough to be given more information. When they know where you’ve stumbled and how you’ve been forgiven and found the support you need to make changes, they will have the footsteps to follow in their own dark times.
They’ll Assume You’re Out-of-Touch
When your teen realizes that you’ve struggled, been tempted, made poor choices — and still do! — he or she will realize that you’re a human being, too, and someone who can come alongside and help, as a fellow journeyer. Sure, maybe you’ve spent most of your child’s life trying to lead and guide him or her, but no matter how closed off you’ve been and how little of your story you’ve told, your teen knows that you aren’t perfect. Hearing you admit it just might open the door to a relationship you didn’t know that you could have.