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Mara Shapiro

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Should You Tell Your Teen You Were a Wild Child?

Posted: 11/09/2012 12:06 am

My husband and I continue to debate one issue (well, besides every issue because obviously opposites attract). I'm not talking about Tomato Tomahto. I'm talking about how much to disclose.

To our teenagers.

About my wild child former self. You know, the drugs, sex, booze, and rock and roll years.

The issue has come up many times, usually as a joking, "Don't you ever tell the kids about what you used to get up to?"

More recently, the statement was made more emphatic when we found a knapsack with some, umm, paraphernalia in the basement. Much more shocking than finding tall boys (of the beer variety) in the girls' bedroom, but to me, nothing to freak out about.

Before you stare with incredulity at me, I'll give you the back story.

My husband didn't have any wild child years. He had one night. One wild and crazy night where his brother-in-law got him drunk and then he passed out on the front lawn and his father turned the sprinklers on him.

Yes, just like in the movies. That's how my father-in-law rolls. Dramatic all the way.

I, however, enjoyed a winning streak of fun from about 15 until I was ready to cool it at 23. Now, let me clarify, my early wild child years had nothing on those of some of my peers. I was never thrown out of the house, I was a late bloomer when it came to sex, and I graduated from high school as an Ontario Scholar and offers from all of the university programs of my choice.

When I got to university, all hell broke loose. I came from a fairly strict upper-middle class home where I had a midnight curfew until I was 18, and a young man's foot wasn't to touch the bottom step of the staircase that led to my booo-doir.

Any fun to be had was on the down low. And as far as they were concerned, my pristine behaviour was to fall somewhere between Mother Theresa and a Rabbi. As far as I was concerned, what they didn't know wouldn't hurt them. As long as I kept my grades up, arrived home before the witching hour, and snuck the boys into the basement, all was fine. There were no cell phones. They had no idea what I was doing.

I left my parents' constricting rules behind when I boarded that jet plane to Vancouver and became much more publicly and intimately involved with partying, beer, and boys.

I won't go into specifics to protect my mystique. But it goes without saying that throughout high school and into my early 20s, I would have been very happy to move to Colorado and/or Washington State (and not because Christian Grey lives there). I could drink any athlete under the table and well, my Dad embarrassingly detailed my exploits with the opposite sex in his speech at my wedding so I don't need to go there.

When I met my future husband, I was rocking out at Psychedelic Mondays at RPM. The next weekend at a cottage party, he swore I wasn't the girl for him when I toddled up, cigarette in hand, swigging from a 2L bottle of homemade killer Kool-Aid. (He obviously got over his reticence because I moved in three months later.)

In other words, he knew who I was, and what I was like, when he married me. He knew that I could dance all night and sleep all day. He'd heard the stories of how I'd drink another table's pitcher of beer by stringing straws together and then how I'd get a football player to carry me all the way home to my dorm when I was too "tired" to walk. He was aware that I knew the various uses for an empty Coke can. He was fully cognizant that I spent my 22nd birthday dancing on a bar in Greece.

And I knew that he was nothing at all like me. Which was probably a good thing. To be fair, I did settle down for him. A lot. I guess I got it out of my system. (I thank him every day for insisting I quit smoking, that's for sure.)

So, back to the question of disclosure and whether or not my kids need to know what I was like.

He says that if I tell them they'll think it's ok to do the same.

I say what's wrong with that? I survived.

He says that times are different and they can get into more trouble.

I say they're good kids like I was and they know their limits. And if they don't, I need to know so I can advise them.

He says it's just wrong. Just plain wrong.

I say they're going to do it anyways, and shouldn't they be able to tell us the truth?

He says some of my parenting philosophies are questionable.

I say that he's probably right. But that they're working so far. And that I refuse to be a hypocrite.

This partnership parenting is pretty tough.

What do you say? Do I tell? Or do I pretend it never happened?

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* This post was originally published on momfaze.com

 

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