Tell your story, warts and all, and let your children see the humility of parents who have made mistakes, who have regrets, who have loved and lost—parents whose lives have been built on love, luck, loss, and hard lessons just like the lives your kids are building for themselves.
Too often, I think, children (young and adult) think that their lives are much different from that of their parents. While this is true on many levels, there are some fundamental, foundational ways in which their lives are probably similar. Certainly, the pains of growing and becoming independent are similar, in emotion if not in actual fact.
As parents, we tend to tell our kids stories of success, as ways to encourage them. But do we also share stories of failure, of doubt, of struggle? Perhaps these negative experiences might be equally encouraging to our growing children, to show them that their parents aren’t perfect, and that they faced challenges in their lives, as their children do.
Here are some questions to consider as you write your life story. As you answer these questions fully, you will reveal to yourself some vignettes that you might want to consider including in your memoir:
- What challenges did you have when you were growing up and when you were just starting out in your own life?
- What stood in the way of your academic, professional, or personal success?
- How did you overcome those obstacles?
- What do you feel your personal weaknesses have been in your life?
- How have you overcome or compensated for them?
- What life experiences have made you a better person? Why were those events so important?
- What do you regret in your life?
- What are you most satisfied with in your life?
- What do you know now that you wish you could have learned sooner or in a less painful way?
We want to be bastions of hope, models of success, for our children, but sometimes it is in the sharing of troubles, doubts, and obstacles that we can really connect.