There’s a lot of my story that I never want my kids to find out.

Like the time I cheated on a math test in third grade. I chose to sit out recess for a week just so my teacher wouldn’t call my parents.

Or the time I tied sheets together with my friend and “practiced” sneaking out my upstairs window in the middle of the day. (Sidebar: that’s not a super effective method. The sheets came untied when I was halfway down and it’s a miracle I didn’t wind up in the hospital.)

Or, only slightly more traumatic, the time I caught the kitchen on fire when I poured water on a grease fire.

Or about the few years I spent letting the same boy break my heart over and over again, because I was too insecure to make him treat me respectfully.

Or about my parents splitting up. It was humiliating and scary.

Or about the seemingly endless days I spent in the black vortex of deep depression, hiding my pain from everyone, including myself.

But here’s the thing … stories matter. They’re the most effective form of communication there is. They inspire, they move, they inform.

Especially the hard stories.

I want my girls to learn from my mistakes—from my stories. Because regret is real. And I wish I had learned a lot of my lessons from someone else’s stories.

I spend so much of my life managing other people’s impression of me. It’s exhausting. And I’ve realized, recently, that I do the same thing with my kids.

I shouldn’t be the hero of every story they hear about me.

I want to give them a safe place to fail. Because they will. They’ll have stories, too.

Are there stories you should share with your family? Let’s challenge ourselves as parents to actively share our stories—the good, the bad, the heartbreaking, and the freeing.