One of my main goals as a parents is to raise children who desire to maintain an open, honest relationship with me when they’re adults. I yearn for their future friendships, and so today I’m establishing a foundation of authenticity.

A heart of flowers, January 2011
"What usually has the strongest effect on the child is the life which the parents have NOT lived." — Carl Jung

If — after living with me for 18+ years — my children don’t want to be my friend, what does that say about me? If I cannot live my life with authenticity in front of my own family, then I am drowning in my own tragic lie.

It’s easy to deceive children. They will believe what I tell them and go where I lead. This means that I could portray myself falsely.

If I was short-sighted, I would pursue the flattery and immature respect that I can obtain from our children. I know I can easily manipulate them to bolster my own ego. For about twenty years, I could ride an ego trip where our children think I am the Queen of All That Is Good.

But when our children grow up, they’ll soon reach a point where they start to see us as parents through their own adult eyes. All the hypocrisy, misrepresentations, ego and false authority fades like a mist. Our children will start to understand that their parents aren’t necessarily the final authority and can be questioned or defied.

Instead of hiding behind a mask, I want to present myself truthfully — and I want it to start happening now. I want our girls to witness my mistakes, my fallibility and my godawful ugliness that still lurks within. And then I want them to see how I apologise, make restitution, ask for forgiveness and offer my love unconditionally.

We’ve all seen families (especially religious ones) where the kids go “off the rails” when they mature. Likely they’ve just woken up to the discrepancies between their parents’ words and the lives they lead.

I don’t want our children to be disillusioned when they begin to see through my cleverly-crafted charade. It would be a tragic letdown if our teenagers rebel against a lie I’d cleverly built up before them.

And I need to ask myself — am I really comfortable to be living a falsehood? How much better it is to be weak and real than to maintain a charade.

If I can be authentic now, when our children’s minds mature they will not despise me for who I really am. They will look back and realise that I’ve been honest about myself.

The only way that authenticity can manifest in a positive fashion is if I truly am a lovely person. Whatever I want our girls to be, I need to first model. And this has to come from a true goodness and godliness within. Anything else is a falsehood.

Why should a child share their toys when I begrudge my friend the use of our trailer? How can I encourage a healthy way of life and eating if I’m indulging in my own poor self-control?

Girls holding hands, August 2010
Why should our girls seek friendships among their sisters if I am not friends with my own?

Being honest about who I am — warts and all — is the first and most important step in overcoming my character flaws. I believe children — as they become adults — will have more respect for a parent who is open about their flaws than a parent who portrays themselves falsely.

The truth is that when I let go of my false representations, when I cast away my own iniquity, I discover that living in authenticity really is a lovely thing. And then I grow strong in truth and and every good thing — and I’m modelling that for my children every single day.