5 Things You Must Tell Your Kids Before You Die

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Whether you're a parent now, or plan to be, this article is for you. One of my most popular posts was “5 Things You Must Tell Your Parents Before You Die“. As a Father, I'm going to flip the tables a bit.

dale-aria
This is one of my favorite photos of my daughter and I πŸ™‚

As parents, adopted parents, or even mentors we have have an intrinsic responsibility to show our children they are loved, valued, and protected. While writing this post, I literally could not find an article on things you “should tell” your kids. Everything was on things “you must stop saying” or “should never say”. That's just like our culture. It's always about stop, no, and quit. How about we adopt a new philosophy of start, yes, and keep going?

Here is my list of 5 Things You Must Tell Your Kids Before You Die:

1. You gave my life so much meaning. Thank you.Β –Β When my daughter was born I remember being hit with this insane rush of purpose. Life was no longer about work, hobbies, or myself. It was about experiencing her. Working because of her, doing things with her, and planning a future as a family. What a gift. As parents, we believe this is implied. But it's not. We must reach out to our children, at the right age, and thank them for the memories, the purpose, the laughter, and the love. After all, there is nothing quite like it.

2. I'm so proud of you. – Children need a surplus of affirmation. I can't tell you the countless stories of boys still working for their Father's approval or daughters seeking their blessing. Though we may not fully agree with our children's ways, we must commend them on completing the hardest task of all, independence. And even though this statement is said by almost all parents, the difference is made in quantity, creativity, and sincerity.

3. You were right, I was wrong. –Β Parents, leaders, and teachers can often times find themselves on the wrong side of an argument. While it's easy to play off our child's ignorance, a tiny moment of transparency and honesty will bring huge impact to your little one's development. But let's not stop there. Let this virtue carry on throughout your relationship, even through the harder years of adulthood. Just because your children are adults, does not mean you should stop acting like their parent.

4. This was my favorite moment –Β In a lifetime made of millions of memories, experiences, and stories – narrowing them down to one can be extremely powerful. To remind your child of a time where everything was perfect and claim it as your favorite will reinforce this special moment forever. But don't be brief, share it with passion, provide every little detail, and bring your child back (no matter how old they are) to that time where all things were just right. You won't regret it, I promise.

5. I'm Sorry – As I mentioned above, we all have moments of failure. Some were yesterday while others were years ago. It's easy to ignore the past and move on as if our memories have somehow erased it. But let me tell you a secret – They don't. If you have a parental failure don't ignore it. Lead with integrity, right your wrongs, and restore that piece of your child's history no matter how small. You only have so many tomorrows.

How does this make you feel? Do you have a statement to add to the list? Let me know in the comments below.

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91 COMMENTS

  1. I love the suggestion to share the memories that stand out…what a wonderful gift to give a child.

  2. I love the suggestion to share the memories that stand out…what a wonderful gift to give a child.

  3. Lord knows I need one of my parents to read this, but it’s a good reminder for me to not make the same mistakes with my own child. Thank you for writing this.

  4. Lord knows I need one of my parents to read this, but it’s a good reminder for me to not make the same mistakes with my own child. Thank you for writing this.

  5. my father ONCE apologized to me. He cried while doing so, he had accused me of lying about leaving out a pair of shoes. I was 9. I remember never being good enough for him;I felt like I was a disappointment throughout. He has passed away. My mother, on the other hand, appreciates me more than I deserve.
    In turn, I decided to not repeat the same mistakes with my girls. I have done everything on this list, more than once. Even when they misbehave I make it clear I don’t like what they did, but they are fabulous.
    A memory I have shared with my oldest was spontaneously running through sprinklers at night. She was 8 and I still bring this up, ten years later. My youngest said something embarrassing yet hilarious and true in Walmart when she was four, and I still share this with her 13 years later. I have many of these….they love it.
    I told them my parents were never wrong when I was growing up, and that that standard was impossible. I am clear that I am not perfect, nor do I want to be (what a burden that would be). I apologize, ask forgiveness and we move on.
    My girls are honest, reliable and independent and while i would rather they help around the house more, they are both my favorite people.
    This is a great list, and the last photo kills me. What a precious moment.

    • Sometimes the most valuable lessons we learn from our own parents are what not to do or what we would do differently from them. I enjoyed reading your post. You sound like a good parent.

  6. my father ONCE apologized to me. He cried while doing so, he had accused me of lying about leaving out a pair of shoes. I was 9. I remember never being good enough for him;I felt like I was a disappointment throughout. He has passed away. My mother, on the other hand, appreciates me more than I deserve.
    In turn, I decided to not repeat the same mistakes with my girls. I have done everything on this list, more than once. Even when they misbehave I make it clear I don’t like what they did, but they are fabulous.
    A memory I have shared with my oldest was spontaneously running through sprinklers at night. She was 8 and I still bring this up, ten years later. My youngest said something embarrassing yet hilarious and true in Walmart when she was four, and I still share this with her 13 years later. I have many of these….they love it.
    I told them my parents were never wrong when I was growing up, and that that standard was impossible. I am clear that I am not perfect, nor do I want to be (what a burden that would be). I apologize, ask forgiveness and we move on.
    My girls are honest, reliable and independent and while i would rather they help around the house more, they are both my favorite people.
    This is a great list, and the last photo kills me. What a precious moment.

    • Sometimes the most valuable lessons we learn from our own parents are what not to do or what we would do differently from them. I enjoyed reading your post. You sound like a good parent.

  7. Wise words. I especially agree w/ the importance of saying ‘I’m sorry.’ Parents can afford to say it more often, if you ask me. A well-placed and, most importantly, sincere sorry can go a long way with a kid because it teaches them that A) it’s okay to admit when you’re wrong, B) if a kid can be remorseful, so can a parent and C) just like them, we can learn to do better. I’ve heard a few parents of 18 y.o.’s say their job is done, but let’s not kid ourselves, it’s actually not. We model for our kids beyond high school, even if we don’t want to, LOL

  8. Wise words. I especially agree w/ the importance of saying ‘I’m sorry.’ Parents can afford to say it more often, if you ask me. A well-placed and, most importantly, sincere sorry can go a long way with a kid because it teaches them that A) it’s okay to admit when you’re wrong, B) if a kid can be remorseful, so can a parent and C) just like them, we can learn to do better. I’ve heard a few parents of 18 y.o.’s say their job is done, but let’s not kid ourselves, it’s actually not. We model for our kids beyond high school, even if we don’t want to, LOL

  9. What Kool Aid are you guys drinking.
    If you’ve every spent 5 min with Dale, you’d realize he’s the most self-absorbed person on the planet! This site is clearly and extension of that

  10. My parents have made all these mistakes and more and that’s fine. It was their call as parents, it’s their life, it’s their journey. They are still the same people, acting the same way, saying the same things to my children. It’s not my call to change them. But it is my responsibility to teach my children that this isn’t what mummy endorses and there is another way of being (without making them wrong). Namely positive and open and accepting and giving and loving. It does sadden me that they would read this article and scoff. Our values and the way we see our roles in the community are like chalk and cheese. But I respect that this is their journey and that I need to put my energies into my children. So thank you for writing these articles, they really do help.

  11. My parents have made all these mistakes and more and that’s fine. It was their call as parents, it’s their life, it’s their journey. They are still the same people, acting the same way, saying the same things to my children. It’s not my call to change them. But it is my responsibility to teach my children that this isn’t what mummy endorses and there is another way of being (without making them wrong). Namely positive and open and accepting and giving and loving. It does sadden me that they would read this article and scoff. Our values and the way we see our roles in the community are like chalk and cheese. But I respect that this is their journey and that I need to put my energies into my children. So thank you for writing these articles, they really do help.

  12. I can relate to this. Something I missed out growing up which had an impact on my self esteem. Always striving for parental approval but never getting it. It was only when I began to value myself that I found my true worth and found my true potential. Fortunately it helped me become a better parent to my son, appreciating him for who he is and indicating how valued he is in my life. This has made a major impact on the kind of person he has become, confident within himself and a bright future ahead of him.

    I sure hope many read your article and learn from it because it does bring enormous rewards. One thing I would like to add is the importance of showing respect to one’s kids, as that too impacts on how they relate to others.

  13. I can relate to this. Something I missed out growing up which had an impact on my self esteem. Always striving for parental approval but never getting it. It was only when I began to value myself that I found my true worth and found my true potential. Fortunately it helped me become a better parent to my son, appreciating him for who he is and indicating how valued he is in my life. This has made a major impact on the kind of person he has become, confident within himself and a bright future ahead of him.

    I sure hope many read your article and learn from it because it does bring enormous rewards. One thing I would like to add is the importance of showing respect to one’s kids, as that too impacts on how they relate to others.

  14. I like to tell my kids that they are beautiful or handsome everyday. Not hearing that as a child has made me crave it as an adult.

    • I make sure my kids know beauty is within it is tied to that which they can control, their actions. Beauty is as beauty does so to speak. when they are sweet loving and kind i tell them how beautiful they are. They began to see beauty in action and not in the outside picture which is often out of our control. We can not control how we look for the most part, but we can act with grace and beauty. That is how I was raised and although I have serious weight issues which i work on with the doctor, I do not have serious self love issues. Because I know I am beautiful inside and out. How do i know? Because every day my mom told me.

  15. I like to tell my kids that they are beautiful or handsome everyday. Not hearing that as a child has made me crave it as an adult.

    • I make sure my kids know beauty is within it is tied to that which they can control, their actions. Beauty is as beauty does so to speak. when they are sweet loving and kind i tell them how beautiful they are. They began to see beauty in action and not in the outside picture which is often out of our control. We can not control how we look for the most part, but we can act with grace and beauty. That is how I was raised and although I have serious weight issues which i work on with the doctor, I do not have serious self love issues. Because I know I am beautiful inside and out. How do i know? Because every day my mom told me.

  16. My parents were wonderful and always told us they loved us, so I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining about their raising but, they were of the “because I told you so” generation and I never understood that! So with my own children I make it a point to tell them, especially now that they are teenagers, that they can’t go…because son/daughter you and your sister/brother are THE most important thing to me and your father, we love you so much that I can’t even imagine how we would feel if something happened to you!
    I’d say it works most of the time! πŸ˜‰

  17. My parents were wonderful and always told us they loved us, so I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining about their raising but, they were of the “because I told you so” generation and I never understood that! So with my own children I make it a point to tell them, especially now that they are teenagers, that they can’t go…because son/daughter you and your sister/brother are THE most important thing to me and your father, we love you so much that I can’t even imagine how we would feel if something happened to you!
    I’d say it works most of the time! πŸ˜‰

  18. Beautiful thoughts Dale. I’m a father of 2 and those 5 points are probably the most powerful things you can tell your kids. Thanks for sharing

  19. Beautiful thoughts Dale. I’m a father of 2 and those 5 points are probably the most powerful things you can tell your kids. Thanks for sharing

  20. Dale, Here’s a number 6 for you. “I love you just the way you are!” With the influence of the world, friends, family, peers, teachers, coaches, Media, etc. all around them, many children feel torn to be so many things to so many other people, and get lost in the process. Letting your child know that they have at least one person in their corner that loves them unconditionally, just as they are, gives them the comfort and confidence of knowing that it is okay to be themselves, okay to live outside the box and not have to be anybody but themselves. It encourages them to be true to themselves and lets them know that they are good enough, just as they are. My youngest started saying that she wished she was the perfect daughter around the age of 9. I told her that she was the perfect daughter, for me! That God knew what He was doing when He gave me her, because He must have known that I was the perfect Mama, for her! I also told her that being perfect, as far as the rest of the world is concerned, is unattainable, overrated and boring! Why would you want to be boring and like everybody else, when you could have so much more fun just being yourself, coloring outside the lines and living outside the box that so many people try to put you in! I also showed her this by being myself, not giving two hoots what other people thought of me and loving myself just the way I am!

  21. Dale, Here’s a number 6 for you. “I love you just the way you are!” With the influence of the world, friends, family, peers, teachers, coaches, Media, etc. all around them, many children feel torn to be so many things to so many other people, and get lost in the process. Letting your child know that they have at least one person in their corner that loves them unconditionally, just as they are, gives them the comfort and confidence of knowing that it is okay to be themselves, okay to live outside the box and not have to be anybody but themselves. It encourages them to be true to themselves and lets them know that they are good enough, just as they are. My youngest started saying that she wished she was the perfect daughter around the age of 9. I told her that she was the perfect daughter, for me! That God knew what He was doing when He gave me her, because He must have known that I was the perfect Mama, for her! I also told her that being perfect, as far as the rest of the world is concerned, is unattainable, overrated and boring! Why would you want to be boring and like everybody else, when you could have so much more fun just being yourself, coloring outside the lines and living outside the box that so many people try to put you in! I also showed her this by being myself, not giving two hoots what other people thought of me and loving myself just the way I am!

  22. Dale, I just wanted to give a thank you to you for choosing the photo of my daughter and I (the second photo, by Tracy Parker. Totally made my day when a friend shared the link to this article on my facebook wall! Such a beautiful article to be included in! πŸ™‚ So thank you!

  23. Dale, I just wanted to give a thank you to you for choosing the photo of my daughter and I (the second photo, by Tracy Parker. Totally made my day when a friend shared the link to this article on my facebook wall! Such a beautiful article to be included in! πŸ™‚ So thank you!

  24. This is such a beautiful article. In our crazy busy world we really need to focus on the things that really matter! Thank you for getting to the heart of building a beautiful relationship with our children. I’m just at the stage now where mine are starting out on their own and I am really proud of how well they are growing into the wonderful adults they are becoming!

  25. This is such a beautiful article. In our crazy busy world we really need to focus on the things that really matter! Thank you for getting to the heart of building a beautiful relationship with our children. I’m just at the stage now where mine are starting out on their own and I am really proud of how well they are growing into the wonderful adults they are becoming!

  26. Dale- Sorry to be negative on a positive blog, but correct grammar should always be used. Especially for a writer. Your picture caption reads “…my daughter and I”, it should be “…me and my daughter.” You would know that if you take away ‘my daughter’ in the sentence and “…this picture of ME” is correct, not “…this picture of I.” Don’t mean to offend, just an FYI. I enjoy your blog posts. πŸ™‚

    • Also, it should be “You were right” not “You we’re right”. That is a contraction of we are and makes no sense…”you we are right”??

    • Linda, English was a favorite study of mine in school, and until you pointed that out did I understand the difference. πŸ™‚

      ex:Your picture caption reads “…my daughter and I”, it should be “…me and my daughter.” You would know that if you take away ‘my daughter’ in the sentence and “…this picture of ME” is correct, not “…this picture of I.”

  27. Dale- Sorry to be negative on a positive blog, but correct grammar should always be used. Especially for a writer. Your picture caption reads “…my daughter and I”, it should be “…me and my daughter.” You would know that if you take away ‘my daughter’ in the sentence and “…this picture of ME” is correct, not “…this picture of I.” Don’t mean to offend, just an FYI. I enjoy your blog posts. πŸ™‚

    • Also, it should be “You were right” not “You we’re right”. That is a contraction of we are and makes no sense…”you we are right”??

    • Linda, English was a favorite study of mine in school, and until you pointed that out did I understand the difference. πŸ™‚

      ex:Your picture caption reads “…my daughter and I”, it should be “…me and my daughter.” You would know that if you take away ‘my daughter’ in the sentence and “…this picture of ME” is correct, not “…this picture of I.”

  28. I agree with Linda J about the grammar issues. But one correction, my daughter and me.. always put yourself last.. you’re is you are.. not ‘your’ which is what you really wanted, etc… advice: do not use contractions and you will not mess up πŸ™‚

  29. I agree with Linda J about the grammar issues. But one correction, my daughter and me.. always put yourself last.. you’re is you are.. not ‘your’ which is what you really wanted, etc… advice: do not use contractions and you will not mess up πŸ™‚

  30. I wish my parents could read this. I am 35 and still looking for approval or to just be good enough. Never having that kind of love or encouragement growing up has greatly impacted my adult life. I am just now learning how to love myself and see that I am good enough, if only in the eyes of myself and God. Your list could also include, hug your kids. I don’t remember many “I love you” or hugs being tossed around. To this day it feels unnatural to say “I love you” to someone and even more awkward to hug them. I cannot change the past, I can only work on myself to make my future a more loving, affectionate and positive one. Thank you for all your articles…they are a source of growth and encouragement for me. πŸ™‚

    • your story sounds familiar.. move on and change the pattern. I have wonderful kids today that are appalled at some of my childhood memories! I have 6 siblings that are either estranged from children or ruined their children’s lives because they couldn’t see how we were not loved and brought up properly. CHANGE THE PATTERN! It is easy..just do everything the opposite of what your parents did. LISTEN to your children, talk TO them NOT AT THEM..tell them you love them, YES< HUG THEM OFTEN and tell them how proud you are of them. It is really simple…I thank God every day for my children. They made me a better person!

  31. I wish my parents could read this. I am 35 and still looking for approval or to just be good enough. Never having that kind of love or encouragement growing up has greatly impacted my adult life. I am just now learning how to love myself and see that I am good enough, if only in the eyes of myself and God. Your list could also include, hug your kids. I don’t remember many “I love you” or hugs being tossed around. To this day it feels unnatural to say “I love you” to someone and even more awkward to hug them. I cannot change the past, I can only work on myself to make my future a more loving, affectionate and positive one. Thank you for all your articles…they are a source of growth and encouragement for me. πŸ™‚

    • your story sounds familiar.. move on and change the pattern. I have wonderful kids today that are appalled at some of my childhood memories! I have 6 siblings that are either estranged from children or ruined their children’s lives because they couldn’t see how we were not loved and brought up properly. CHANGE THE PATTERN! It is easy..just do everything the opposite of what your parents did. LISTEN to your children, talk TO them NOT AT THEM..tell them you love them, YES< HUG THEM OFTEN and tell them how proud you are of them. It is really simple…I thank God every day for my children. They made me a better person!

  32. Thank you, I love the positive message you share! A while ago I started a Gratitude Jar where I slip in papers on which I write my favorite moment of the day. My 7 yo daughter started taking them out to read them and her face lit up when she saw how many of them are about little things her and-or her sister have said and done. Hearing about how it was during pregnancy, their birth and how long ago we started loving them is a story they never tire of.
    The other day I apologized for losing my patience and told my daughter how I still had a lot to learn to be the best mom I could be for them and she told me there was one thing I didn’t need to learn and when I asked her what, she said “How to love your kids!”. I didn’t lose anything by apologizing and gained so much from her comment!
    I’m a guest today but will be joining to read more uplifting articles, thanks! πŸ™‚

    • Thats is awesome to get are children involved with gratitude and even God boxes I think its wonderful

  33. Thank you, I love the positive message you share! A while ago I started a Gratitude Jar where I slip in papers on which I write my favorite moment of the day. My 7 yo daughter started taking them out to read them and her face lit up when she saw how many of them are about little things her and-or her sister have said and done. Hearing about how it was during pregnancy, their birth and how long ago we started loving them is a story they never tire of.
    The other day I apologized for losing my patience and told my daughter how I still had a lot to learn to be the best mom I could be for them and she told me there was one thing I didn’t need to learn and when I asked her what, she said “How to love your kids!”. I didn’t lose anything by apologizing and gained so much from her comment!
    I’m a guest today but will be joining to read more uplifting articles, thanks! πŸ™‚

  34. As a single parent with chronic illness and working forty plus hours a week to support my two children; there were times I know I made mistakes but didn’t learn until later. What I told my sons was the truth, “I did the best I could, with what I knew or had, at the moment this happened; and I’m sorry but it was the best at that moment that I could do”. In other words to my children, as a parent, I don’t know everything and can’t do everything but I try to do the best I can with what I’m equipped with at that moment in time. In your lifetime when you become a parent, you too, will experience some of those same moments and just know now you will act on what you feel is for the best and well being of your child.

  35. As a single parent with chronic illness and working forty plus hours a week to support my two children; there were times I know I made mistakes but didn’t learn until later. What I told my sons was the truth, “I did the best I could, with what I knew or had, at the moment this happened; and I’m sorry but it was the best at that moment that I could do”. In other words to my children, as a parent, I don’t know everything and can’t do everything but I try to do the best I can with what I’m equipped with at that moment in time. In your lifetime when you become a parent, you too, will experience some of those same moments and just know now you will act on what you feel is for the best and well being of your child.

  36. I would say 6. Don’t just give gifts make memories and 7. Write letters (or notes, hidden in places you know they’ll find soon.)
    My mother never grew past her teenage years, and when I reached mine we had issues. I’ll openly admit that my mother isn’t perfect. I didnt learn how to study, or to really finish things that I start. But I will be the first person so tell you (loudly and with 100% certainty) that she was the perfect mother for me. No matter what I struggle with, I dont have to question whether she’s proud of me, if she loves me, if she’s glad I’m in her life. No matter how bad things have gone in my life I never have to look far for a positive thought because she taught me to pull them from next to nothing. I have a thousand memories of trips where we got lost and found something we’d never have found otherwise, memories of getting home to a party set up just to celebrate monday. She made sure that a smile is my most used expression. I grew up with a certainty and happiness in myself that many people never find, and if I ever lose it theres a box of letters in my cupboard reminding me that I’m strong, beautiful, that I deserve happiness and that life is ok.

  37. I would say 6. Don’t just give gifts make memories and 7. Write letters (or notes, hidden in places you know they’ll find soon.)
    My mother never grew past her teenage years, and when I reached mine we had issues. I’ll openly admit that my mother isn’t perfect. I didnt learn how to study, or to really finish things that I start. But I will be the first person so tell you (loudly and with 100% certainty) that she was the perfect mother for me. No matter what I struggle with, I dont have to question whether she’s proud of me, if she loves me, if she’s glad I’m in her life. No matter how bad things have gone in my life I never have to look far for a positive thought because she taught me to pull them from next to nothing. I have a thousand memories of trips where we got lost and found something we’d never have found otherwise, memories of getting home to a party set up just to celebrate monday. She made sure that a smile is my most used expression. I grew up with a certainty and happiness in myself that many people never find, and if I ever lose it theres a box of letters in my cupboard reminding me that I’m strong, beautiful, that I deserve happiness and that life is ok.

  38. This is the exact reason both my husband and I gave up our jobs and moved away from the city and settle for a much smaller income but MUCH more time with our son. We have 2 years left before he goes on to college and life changes again. There are only so many days/nights I have left to sit in my chair in a quiet house listening to my son play the piano or guitar and listen to him sing behind his closed bedroom door. Life is about moments. I wish I had learned this much sooner.

  39. This is the exact reason both my husband and I gave up our jobs and moved away from the city and settle for a much smaller income but MUCH more time with our son. We have 2 years left before he goes on to college and life changes again. There are only so many days/nights I have left to sit in my chair in a quiet house listening to my son play the piano or guitar and listen to him sing behind his closed bedroom door. Life is about moments. I wish I had learned this much sooner.

  40. Remember to tell your children that just as we (parents) were doing the best we could at the time, they did the best they could at the time also. When a person passes, people in their life feel regrets. The should have, could have, would have, and wish I hadn’t happens to everyone. As a parent and having lost my Dad recently there is always guilt even if it is not deserved/realistic. Release your children from this by telling hem in person or by a letter. Let them know that a loving parent would always forgive any misgivings or mistakes not intended to cause pain.

  41. My Dad passed unexpectedly when I was 7. I would give anything for him to have said any one of these to me before he left. Parents, please take this seriously. You never know when your time is up & even the smallest thing on your part (like something from this list or a letter for their 18th birthday) will mean the absolute world to your child when you are gone.

  42. I would have been happy just not to be told I was dumb, ugly, worthless, that I ruined her life, etc. or be constantly screamed at, slapped or had things thrown at me. Further adding insult to injury she refuses to admit to any of this took place. Decades later I still have days where I can’t stand the person looking back in the mirror. As an adult it doesn’t matter how many other people in my life say these 5 things, there’s a part of me that will never accept it because the people I needed I hear it from most Couldn’t or wouldn’t say them.

  43. Please excuse me, all these are good but I’d like to respond to “Trying” or anyone else who didn’t have much of a childhood.
    Dear Trying, You may never get the affirmation you needed from the parent with whom you lived. They may have lied to you, beat you, and abused you. You weren’t the problem, they hated themself. What they said to you is how they felt about themself. How they treated you was a lie.
    This next part may be hard to believe, but I will say it anyway. You are special. You are loved. Someone was there loving you through all those hard times. He came to give you a good life, a blessed life. His name is Jesus. His story is in the bible. I’m not talking religion, only a relationship. Give Him a chance. He will not disappoint.

  44. I tell my little man that I love him every single day and he says it back to me , I love you more mummy, I say no way, he says yes way

  45. I came from a family of eight siblings, 7 different fathers and a Mother who married 11 times. (I love my mom with all my heart).
    Determined to be a terrific Mom and wife and armed with all the skills of what NOT to do, I set off at the tender age of 18. I wanted nothing more than to be a Mom, bake apple pies, crochet, and teach my children all life’s lessons I had to learn the hard way.
    Two years after the birth of my third child, my husband finally confessed to being involved in some of the most despicable and hideous things imaginable. Devastated had no alternative but to leave the man I loved for the safety of my children. I was not only heart broken, scared and ashamed of what he had been doing, I was also ashamed of all the years I stayed with him hiding the scars and black eyes I received at his hand. I was alone had nobody to turn to and over 2,000 miles from where I called home. I packed my babies up ages 2,3 and 5, rag-tagged across the states in the dead of winter. we found a small place and I found a job, we struggled, but I had the skills to survive
    I never shared any of the horrid things about my Husband to anyone and during times when I thought the loneliness would certainly consume me, my children’s laughter sounded like an orchestra to my ears. Their music was all I needed to be assured I did the right thing, despite how many times I doubted myself. Dad managed to dodge child support until the last 5 years and even then he hid all the assets he and his new wife enjoyed. (She was one of the many people he had been, ahem, involved with while married to me). She also helped him hide their luxuries so when support was finally ordered it was for the utmost minimum (53.00) monthly. No health insurance. ( I took a second job sewing moccasins together at night so I could be home with my children)
    in 2004 My ex-husband announced to our children he was terminal. Being the compassionate children they were brought up to be, they left the state of Maine and traveled to VA. to help him, even though he had only visited with them as children a total of five times and that a was typically only an hour or two after multiple broken promises to come visit.
    Here’s kicker, is in 2009 he passed and my children worship his name as if he was Lord and my Daughter, my youngest child, named my very own grandbaby after this woman her Father married.
    The betrayal I feel is unspeakable. Any idea to help me deal with this? Am I just being too emotional?

    • It’s ok to feel what you’re feeling! Also, the fact that your children are trying to find redeeming qualities in a man they haven’t trusted or felt loved by is really only their way of trying to love themselves, even the parts that they secretly worry might be too much like him. It’s not betrayal, it’s an effort to be ok with themselves.
      I was a child who dealt with this type of thing and my self esteem suffered horribly. So, it might seem strange, but part of my healing had to do with accepting and forgiving because that was a way to be able to love the undesirable parts of myself, because I feared I was messed up inside, and worse, maybe that I didn’t deserve to be loved because of it. Trust me, your children are very aware of the nasty traits of your spouse, but they also have to feel that there was something worthy of love within him so they can find themselves worthy too.
      They will never forget your sacrifices, though that remembrance might be overshadowed by the things I’ve mentioned above for right now. They may have been too little to fully remember how awful things were, but they will spend their lives remembering what you did for them in so many meaningful ways. The farther they get into parenthood, the more they will understand.
      I hope that helps. Good bless you.

    • I am so sorry. You need to write a book. You write so well. Kudos to you. You should be so proud of yourself. You have not had it easy. Just keep forgiving but not forgetting. xoxo

    • I feel there is something missing here. Why would your daughter name your grandchild after her stepmom if she had only met her a handful of times?

  46. Thank you all for sharin your stories this is for trying : there are so many similarties to our stories I was on of six siblings that were seperated into foster care the home that I went to at four years of age she was sadistic and emotionally abusive til I was 16 I have. Been able to forgive through Jesus name and will never forget the terror inside me I am a christian and wanted to say I love you be strong and you are not alone

  47. Bingo! My favorite point is for parents and teachers to say “I’m sorry.”
    Thanks for sharing your list.
    I hope you don’t mind I I pinned this post.
    Thank you, Malika

  48. You we’re right I was wrong……ugghhh. That says “you we are right I was wrong.” Should read You were right, I was wrong.

  49. Wonderful. Important to remember. Too often parents say or think that kids won’t remember when they grown up. Well yes they do! We can all remember some emotional scar from when we were kids.

  50. I can’t tell you what you have given me. I have been racking my brain for the right words and the way to use them to tell my children that I am dying. Although it will still be the hardest thing I think I have ever had to do… You have really found a way to reaffirm and to also share with my kids how much they were a huge part in the making of who I am and although the life and the love we know is being cut short, I can be put at ease knowing that they have the tools and the memories that will help them to be kind and caring with a good dose of humility now and all through their lives. Again… I thank you so very much. God bless you

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