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What to tell kids about your sex, drugs and rock and roll past

rockrollBy Kristy MacKaben

There were the drunken nights in Tijuana, the near-arrest in San Diego and of course the partying in hotel rooms with random guys. College was a blast for Diana, a resident of Severn who asked her last name be withheld.

“I was a little crazy in college,” Diana says. “We would party every weekend.”

Those days are long gone, but Diana, who grew up in California, is wondering whether her kids, ages 12 and 14, will ask about her past transgressions.

According to Mark Donovan, therapist at Congruent Counseling in Columbia, it’s not a matter of “if” but “when.” Almost every child asks questions about their parents’ pasts and parents need to be ready.

When, how and why you share secrets with your kids depends on a number of variables: the specific situation, the parent/child relationship, the age and maturity of the child and the spirit in which the information is conveyed, Donovan explains.

“I think it depends on what their purpose is,” Donovan says. “If their purpose is to brag or to say ‘I understand what you’re going through,’ then I don’t think it’s appropriate. If the purpose is to set a limit and say ‘here’s what happened that didn’t work’ and if the purpose is to help the child, then yes.”

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