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  • Writer's pictureMegan Estes

Telling Your Kids About Your Past

I want to instill truth in my children's hearts. It's my life call. However, there are some truths I wish I didn't have to tell them. The level of evil in the world they need to be aware of. The reality that they're going to have to do math for six more years of school. And finally, the truth about the mistakes I've made in my own journey of surrendering my life to Christ. My kids see me make mistakes every day, but I'm talking about the big mistakes and sins that altered my life. The relationships, struggles, addictions, you name it. How do I instill truth in my child's heart when I don't feel like I can be fully truthful with them? I don't want to give them a weight to carry that they are not yet ready for. I also don't want them to think that I was perfect and didn't struggle when I was their age. I've been on this journey the last few years of motherhood, wrestling with how much to share, and when to share it. I believe this will be a tension I have to manage throughout the course of motherhood.

Sharing your past with your kids is heavy

I had the opportunity to share some of my testimony with my oldest child recently. Telling my kids about my past was not fun. This was not a planned conversation, but when your child asks you deep, pointed questions, it's time to answer. It was hard. Harder than I thought it would be. It was painful. It was also scary. Somehow by God's grace we made it through. I shared honestly, but I didn't share intimately. My kids don't need to know past significant other's names, the detailed ways I hurt my family with my strong-willed attitude, or super specific past sinful actions I struggled with. They want to know--especially girls. My daughter wanted to know all the details, but I felt in my spirit that it wasn't appropriate to disclose too much. I probably shared a little too much in some areas, and not enough in others. Regardless, I shared. It brought back so much pain that I didn't think I would still have to walk through. But I think that's a good thing, right?! Grieving over my past sin and shame--just not in a shameful manner in which I beat myself up over and over again, but in a way that I acknowledge the brokenness of my choices, my sin. I grieved because I hated to admit that I was not flawless. (Cue the recovering perfectionist to enter). One thing is for sure--I pointed to Christ and my need for the cross. That's WHY we share our stories, our testimonies. To be able to say to those witnessing us living our lives, "I was once this way, and now I'm not. It's all because of Jesus." Scripture even says the word of our testimonies has the power to triumph over Satan! That's what I picture when I am sharing my testimony. I picture my story giving strength and encouragement to those that hear it, and enable them to also defeat Satan.

Here's a list of some things I did, and some things I wish I would have done when sharing about my past sinfulness with my children.

Invite Holy Spirit-I wish I would have paused to pray before opening my mouth to answer. I tried to listen for any promptings and prayed as we went, but looking back I could have used a moment to really pause before the Lord.

Grieve-After talking with my kiddo I wept hard. I am so thankful my husband was home that day to hold me and console me because I needed it. I'm thankful I'm not the person I was, but I also am saddened to have to admit I once struggled in certain ways.

Speak With Transformational Authority--I read this phrase and it immediately resonated with me. I'm not perfect, but I've grown a lot over the past 38 years of my life. (All thanks be to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!). My sin, however, is no excuse for my kids to repeat the sinful behaviors I shared with them. I can hold them accountable, even in areas I've failed--because that's what discipleship and motherhood is all about.

Share Honestly, Not Intimately--Being appropriately truthful is hard for those of us that are earnest and feel like we are lying unless we tell someone every detail. This is a time to reflect on safe boundaries. I wanted to share certain parts of my past with my child, but I knew that I would regret it in a few years. Thus, I opted to share as much as I felt they could carry. I had to trust God in this, because I didn't want to share too much of anything with them. Other kids might not care about the details, but my kiddo asking questions wanted to know as much as they could pry out of me. When I talk about past relationships, struggles, addictions, and bad habits, I want to be vulnerable and not let my pride get in the way. If I've confessed things to my God, my husband, and my accountability partner then I'm good. I do not have to share every detail of my failure with everyone. (This seems like common sense, but for those of us that are earnest and don't want to lie in any way, it can seem like we are not being truthful, when in fact we are simply having healthy boundaries.)

Share Simply and Calmly--This was not the time for detailed descriptions. My child needed a swift answer, and they needed to receive it with peace. Even though some of their questions made me want to react with intense emotions, I worked hard to come across passionate and clear versus angry and hurt. Leading as a parent means bringing the CALM. By God's grace I was able to express intense emotions privately afterwards, and release a lot of tears.


I wish I could tell my children that I made perfect choices growing up. I made a lot of great choices that God blessed in my life, but I also made poor choices and faced fierce consequences because of them. It pained me to share my past sins with my sweet kiddo, but we made it through by God's grace. I've never seen "lying about your past" work out well for anyone. Kids are intuitive and can spot insecurity and lies easily. I've opted to tell my kids about some of my struggles before they get too old. It's good for them to know their mom is human and also be reminded of the saving power of Jesus. That's where we landed. I made mistakes, but God used me anyway. He has forgiven me and He can forgive you, too, of your greatest sins.

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