Why You Need to Keep It Real With Your Kids

keep it real

My friend Natalie was talking recently about her childhood and made an interesting observation. She said, “Growing up, my dad was always very proud and concerned with appearances. He never wanted the outside world to see anything but a picture perfect family in us and a flawless person in him. My mom was completely different. She was a person who wanted us to live life to high standards, but she was real. She was honest with us about her own weaknesses and struggles and, in that way, gave us permission to be transparent with her. She didn’t lower the bar; she was just very authentic.”

Guess which parent had the greatest influence on Natalie then and now? Her mom. The authenticity Natalie and her siblings detected in her gave them confidence in her…they could trust her. Our kids are growing up in a pretty fake world. People spend all day carefully selecting and editing the best pictures for social media and cataloging only the more interesting and envy-worthy highlights of their lives. Whether or not they can articulate it, what many of our kids crave is something real, something honest. No more posing.

Do you keep it real with your kids? Learn how to be an authentic parent they can trust.

what God thinks1. Be authentic in front of your kids by caring less about what the neighbors think and more about what God thinks. {Tweet This}

If your children think that your rules and standards exist only to present a certain image to your peers, they’ll soon tire of the burden of keeping them. Researchers dealing with faith and culture tell us the younger generation craves authenticity over glossy facades. They are far less motivated to make choices simply for the sake of keeping up appearances. However, if your standards are focused on what is truly right and wrong according to God (not the neighbors), they take on more meaning and have a better chance of shaping hearts and minds. Read our 10 Ways to Be a Good Role Model.

2. Be authentic in front of your kids by talking about your own struggles.

We all have areas where we can improve. Being vulnerable enough with your kids to admit that you recognize your own weaknesses and are working to make them better gives you credibility. Of course, there are some adult struggles that aren’t appropriate to share with your kids, but plenty are: Your desire to be more consistent with spiritual disciplines. (If I could go more than four uninterrupted days in a row having a personal quiet time with God, I’d consider it a modern-day miracle.); your need to take better care of your health and eat right; or, your desire to be more patient with them and others.

3. Be authentic in front of your kids by asking for their forgiveness.

We all mess up. We yell, we accuse without the whole story, we take out our frustration with others on our children. But when you are humble and honest enough to ask for forgiveness after a parenting fail, it can turn a negative into a positive. You show integrity by taking responsibility for your own behavior and modeling for them how to respond when they are guilty of a miscue.

4. Be authentic with your kids by placing greater value on character than “success.”

We all want our children to work hard and excel, but do they know why? Do they know that you value their hard work regardless of whether it results in a trophy or a place on the Honor Roll? If parents aren’t intentional about placing the greater emphasis on the virtue of work, rather than saving all of your accolades–or lack thereof–until report card day, our kids may believe that we only ask so much of them simply to bask in the glow of their achievements. Give them the security of knowing that their best is good enough, whatever that is. For more on this point, read 3 Ways Parents Unknowingly Pressure Their Kids to CheatCharacter: Cultivating Children of Integrity; and Relationships: How to Stay Close With Your Children.

Let’s Talk: Do you struggle to keep it real with your kids? Why is it hard sometimes?

Dana Hall McCain writes about marriage, parenting, faith and wellness. She is a mom of two, and has been married to a wonderful guy for over 18 years.