I've done plenty of things in my life of which I'm not particularly proud, especially in high school and college, but I still want to teach my kids not to do these things. How can I best teach them without being either a supporter or a hypocrite?

asked 19 Oct '09, 16:29

Dinah's gravatar image

accept rate: 15%

When my children are old enough to understand it, I'll readily admit to being a hypocrite. There are things I ask them not to do that I effectively do myself. I'm not proud of it, and I try not to do it, but it would be pointless to pretend I'm never a hypocrite.

That said, when it comes to past actions rather than present ones - I think it's fine to admit that you've done things you regret, and that you believe were naughty/wrong/bad/foolish/whatever. After all, if you can't accept that you make mistakes, you'll never say sorry. I think this is slightly easier to understand than admitting direct hypocrisy - it feels like one less level of indirection, if you see what I mean.

(This is all partly biased by my view as a Christian, I suspect. It's pretty hard to be a Christian and yet think you're perfect!)


answered 19 Oct '09, 19:46

Jon%20Skeet's gravatar image

Jon Skeet
accept rate: 35%


1,300+ rep here and 107,000+ rep on Stack Overflow and he still doesn't think he's perfect. How can you not love this guy! ;)

(19 Oct '09, 20:01) Dinah

My husband is like, you gotta vote him up, he's Jon Skeet. He does have great insight though. :)

(19 Oct '09, 21:38) Sabrina

I think that the way to go is to teach your children (and maybe your self) to have strong opinions but to hold them weakly. It is OK to change your view on things as you learn new facts.

That way you are not a hypocrite when teaching things based on your learnings. Depending on age and severity it can be a challenge not to laugh when they remake my old mistakes.


answered 19 Oct '09, 17:48

Idstam's gravatar image

accept rate: 22%

edited 19 Oct '09, 18:26

Very nicely said!

(19 Oct '09, 17:59) Emi

"Holding opinions weakly" is great advice for keeping an open mind and I endorse it for most of life. I'm not sure it necessarily applies here though. It seems dismissive of areas where strong opinions are merited. There are plenty of vices, especially typically indulged in during high school and college, that I do not feel have a healthy alternative viewpoint and which I do want to objectively condemn as a parent: smoking, driving intoxicated, careless sex, illicit chemicals, unreasonable risk-taking, shoplifting, ...

(19 Oct '09, 18:39) Dinah

Exactly, but when you are in high school you do not have the same perspective on things as you do later on in life. So to argue with our older children they have to understand that we did stupid things when we were younger, but we know better know and that it is not hypocritical to tell them to stay away from the stupid things we did. (I have to learn to write shorter sentences.)

(19 Oct '09, 18:58) Idstam
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Asked: 19 Oct '09, 16:29

Seen: 2,593 times

Last updated: 19 Oct '09, 19:46