“The toilet is spilling water all over the floor!” hollered Daughter #3 from upstairs.
The homeschool history lesson I was teaching to Daughter #1 and #2 came to a screeching halt as I bolted upstairs to find that, sure enough, the watery depths of the “potty” were quickly covering the bathroom floor and racing toward the hallway carpet.
What followed next were panicked screams, weeping, and some gnashing of teeth … all from me. Let’s just say a flooded bathroom mid-history lesson, before I’d even brushed my teeth, wasn’t on that day’s agenda. I shudder to think how I’d have responded if I hadn’t at least had coffee first.
Later, after the bathroom floor was dried, the carpet less water-logged, and I’d calmed down, I returned to our study of the Boxer Rebellion.
The first words out of my mouth?
Well, that would be these: “Girls, the way I just acted is a perfect example of how not to act.” I then went on to apologize and explain what I should have done differently.
And so went our last great bathroom flooding.
The truth is, some days I’m not a good example to my kids. My attitudes and the actions that result aren’t Christ-honoring. I’m not proud of it, but it happens. While I may not always be a perfect example to my kids, I’m learning that humbling myself is just one way I can be vulnerable with my kids – and they need that. I believe yours do too, and here are three reasons why.
1. Vulnerability Offers “Me Too”
Not too long ago, one of my girls shared with me that she had a bad dream in which kids she knew were making fun of her.
I told her a story from my history. One where two friends from church made fun of my singing voice, and how I let that experience shape my perceptions for years to come.
Being vulnerable with your kids lets them know they aren’t alone. It communicates to them this idea of “me too,” or “I know what that feels like, I’ve been there also.” And from what I’m learning, my kids are more likely to come to me again if they expect me to offer wisdom from a place of “me too.”
2. Vulnerability Models Authenticity
I love Francesca Battistelli’s song, “If We’re Honest.” In it, she encourages you and me to bring our brokenness to relationships; to be real and authentic with those closest to us.
We are the earliest relationship our kids have. It’s our job to teach them how to interact with others. Are we teaching them that our weaknesses are something to hide from our family and friends? Or, rather, are we modeling that there’s freedom in being honest and authentic about our struggles with those we trust? When we’re vulnerable, we model how to do this.
3. Vulnerability Allows Kids to Really Know You
I don’t want my kids to reach their 30’s or 40’s and discover that they didn’t really know me. That I’d been keeping secrets about myself and what’s shaped me in an effort to present a perfect picture. Being vulnerable about who I am and what God has and is doing in my life helps avoid this.
Obviously, I don’t pour out things to my 5-year-old that aren’t age appropriate. There needs to be wisdom in what and when to share. But does my 11-year-old know I have panic attacks sometimes? You bet. Are all of our kids aware that a miscarriage is part of our family history? Yep.
I hope it’ll be a while before we experience another bathroom flooding. But, if we do, I’ll use it as an opportunity to say, “Remember the last time the bathroom flooded? I acted pretty badly, didn’t I? What do you think I did better this time?”