History Gives Permission
Leading at Home

History Gives Permission

Posted by Regi Campbell on February 9, 2015

Years ago, I had a debate with a good friend about how much of your past you share with your kids. He’d used a fair amount of drugs while in school and thought, “I need to be transparent about it. When I tell them my story, they’ll see that drugs aren’t the best way to go.” I don’t need to tell you what happened. Oldest son. Rehab. Police record. Drugs changed the trajectory of his life.

Would the boy have avoided drugs had his dad not revealed his experience?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that certain parts of our history . . . our story . . . need to be reserved for when our kids are grown, established in their lives and faith, and mature enough to handle them. Parents don’t have to answer every question they’re asked. We can say, “Son, there’ll be a time when I’ll talk about that part of my past, but this isn’t that time. I promise, I won’t ever keep anything from you that will help you. But that question isn’t where we’re going right now. Let’s get back to you and the subject at hand.” End of answer.

Parents can tell their kids, “Do as I say, not as I did,” but kids are deaf until they grow up. Kids listen to what you say but, they watch what you do and they remember your stories. “But Dad, you told me that you (fill in the blank).” If you did it, they interpret that as permission for them to do it. No matter how wrong, how selfish, or how devastating.

John Maxwell teaches ‘the law of the lid’ . . . how we never exceed parameters we set for ourselves. I get that. But some ‘lids’ are there for our protection. If my mom and dad worked it out, stuck together, made their marriage work, that’s a ‘lid’ . . . an example . . . a parameter that guides you. Their tenacity gives you permission to be tenacious. If they give up and get divorced, by their behavior they give you permission to do the same thing.

Alcohol. How do you deal with it in your family? Early in our marriage, we would hide it. Hide that we were social drinkers. Our friends ‘socialized’ it in their homes. Unlocked open bars with cold beer in the fridge and wine in the cabinet. “Don’t make a big deal of it,” they’d say.

I didn’t know what to do. I still don’t. But here’s what I did.

After I surrendered my life to Jesus, I could no longer deal with the dishonesty of hiding it nor the ambiguity of ‘socializing’ it. So I quit altogether. Oh, I didn’t shut up about it. I preached my share of sermons to our kids about drinking. They knew my story and they seriously considered what I had to say mainly because I had the moral authority of having stopped drinking altogether. They had to figure it out for themselves . . . on their own . . . and they did.

Living out good habits and good deeds invites your kids into Christ-likeness. Modeling bad stuff and bragging about your childhood adventures gives your kids permission to do everything you did.


Question: What are you giving your kids permission to do? Will you think and pray about what God would have you know about it? And will you ask Him to give you the courage to act on what He shows you? Tell us about it here.

Responses (3)

David Dobbs
David Dobbs Posted: February 10, 2015, 1:03 am

Hi Regi, first time to review the blog.

I like the discussion you bringing up here and I can see how the not knowing–of if you had not told you son about your addictions in your earlier life, would he still of had to deal with the pain he experienced? But I agree that there should be a filter on these sort of discussions-especially with loved ones.
I know from personal experience–listening to my father discuss his many wild and crazy days as a night club owner when I was about five or six years old–even later when I was eighteen he dabbled in it again—Gambling—and well you get the point. It was presented as a fond remembrance, a memorialization of those grander times of youth and vitality–the excitement.
I know it has seared a special character trait within me for pursuing a lifestyle that is exciting–However most of my excitement was through the work I involved myself in–Law enforcement, Corrections, Investigations and and even ministry. Now even at this top of the hill age, I still find myself seeking that excitement. It has impacted my life in ways that I never really thought it would or even had the power to do–But your right these disclosures should be in the form of right moment discussions with our loved ones who may be facing things we have been faced with, and let them know this turned out bad for me and it looks like your heading down a road that will lead to destruction–please stop–turnaround and repent and set your feet to a path that is focused on Living a life worth living!
I have had discussions similar to what you have had with your son–and I always said what I said in a very direct and solemn way–I know that my son never heard me glorifying, any unseemly behavior. My motivations for being very straightforward and solemn were to let him know I was not proud of what I did, and if I had kept on that path it could have easily turned really bad. To date he has always been very willing to talk with me, and listen to what I have to say….he doesn’t always apply it but I know the seeds are always being planted–maybe that will grow within to prevent these fruitless vines from growing deep roots in his life.

Regi, I hope this is a meaningful post in your Blog I enjoyed posting it, your information and direction behind your blog, I have a friend and mentor myself in the ministry and he is highly involved serving low income housing complexes in Springfield Mo. I have also served in the ministry, as a site leader, and board member, I thought you would be interested to communicate with him Winston Barnett President–Lifebuilders Ministry, check out our website http://www.lifebuildersmin.org/
He is an avid Mentor and vital apartment ministry pioneer. I know you guys would probably have a lot to talk about. His email is lifebuildersmin@sbcglobal.net
Many Blessings–David Dobbs

Rob Posted: February 10, 2015, 9:29 am

Wel, the problem is that we have this ‘go back to the OT and start all over’ lifestyle to make them have to take the long journey again. It is hard for most christian to live from the “it is finished” perspective, especially since we go with the world agenda of individualism! Great article brother, thanks for the insight!

Zack Gaya
Zack Gaya Posted: February 10, 2015, 10:54 am

Dear Regi,

God has given you a knack of bringing out those non obvious issues that are pertinent in our lives and that we many a times tend to brush under the carpet as unimportant while they have huge consequences in our lives as well as our families.

I did smoke and use other drugs before I committed my life to Christ and the consequences are there in terms of a condition called COPD. I do have teenage kids and try to help them see the importance of avoiding drugs of any kind. Sometimes I feel that I have no moral authourity of telling them that and just pray that the Lord will help them see the sense of avoiding drugs. How do we ensure that the iniquities of past life are not passed on to our kids?

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