What to Share with Your Child about Your Own Life
If you have suffered some particularly tough challenges in life (which is probably most people), then you need to share these with your child and with other people. It's a matter of choosing the right people to talk to at the right times. If your need to talk is more for self-healing, please be aware of this and seek out therapy, as it will help you to unload on an adult and then make better decisions about what to share with your child and when.
Appropriate Stories, Appropriate Moments
For the most part, share funny, happy, and silly stories from your own childhood with your child. Think about what you enjoyed, what your favorite games were, your favorite foods, your favorite books, your favorite songs, your favorite places, an interesting picture your family had on the wall that you might be able to dig up on the Internet and print out for your child. These are the things to share freely. Share them at an age-appropriate time — stories about your positive experiences in grade school are most suitable for sharing with your grade-schooler.
Be careful about holding up an impossible ideal, or using stories that compare yourself to your child, with you coming out on top. If your high schooler just missed an important shot in a basketball game, don't share your own story of how you won the state championship with a last-second three-pointer. Kids are very sensitive to shaming and to feeling inferior.
If You Were Abused or Suffered
It is okay to tell your children about what you've been through if you have already gotten professional help, there is a constructive reason for sharing, and you scaffold the experiences at age-appropriate times so you only share information your child can handle. For example, if you were sexually abused, you can use your experience to make sure you talk to your young child about appropriate touching. Later, you can use this to inform your child about how to recognize when she's not comfortable around somebody. Much later, when your child is a teen, you can explain that the reason you have never left her alone with a certain family member is because that person abused you, and that's the reason you don't want your child going to that person's house alone.