by Lori Richey, former youth director

When our daughter was finishing high school, she knew she wanted to attend college but wasn’t so sure about what to study. Although we tried to reassure her that she didn’t have to know in the beginning, she stressed about having things all figured out. We felt it was important not to push her in one direction based on what we thought, so my husband and I tried to just be encouraging and let her chart her own path.  One day she asked me how I had chosen my own major, and if I’d ever changed my mind. When I shared that I had, in fact, changed my major three times and then landed in a career that didn’t match up with the degree I ended up with, she laughed and said “Well, why didn’t you say that before!”

This experience showed me that children do want to hear from their parents about their life experiences, major decisions, and potential regrets. While I was concerned about influencing my daughter in a negative way, she simply wanted to hear what had worked for me so that she could learn from that and make decisions for herself.

Sharing life experiences with your child can have these benefits:

  • It provides information and perspective that they can use in their own decision-making process
  • It encourages them to ask additional questions in the future
  • It lets them know they’re not alone in navigating the challenges of life
  • It reminds them that their parents were once teenagers, too
  • It builds trust and respect between parent and child
  • It creates space for conversation without judgment

I’m reminded of the quote that says “There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings” (Henry Ward Beecher). Sharing life experiences with our children can be both – giving them roots to set a firm foundation and wings to help them reach their dreams.


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