Cited in ZLiving – Parental Advisory: How To Share Secrets With Your Children
by Yoshita Sengupta
Navigating secrets in parenting isn’t easy, and yet secrets come up with some regularity in parenting. By definition, a secret is information that is not meant to be known by others, and yet most of us parents teach our children that under no circumstances should they ever keep a secret from their parents. Is the opposite true as well? Should children be told everything? Of course not. So how do we navigate which secrets are best kept from children, and which aren’t?
- Recognize how hard it is to keep a secret and how much you as a parent might want to unburden yourself of a secret’s weight. This is completely understandable, but can get in the way of making a responsible decision. This is not a decision about making it easier on parents – children’s needs should be primary in the consideration.
- Also consider carefully your child’s capacity to keep a secret. Secrets are hard to keep for adults, and even harder for children. Withholding information takes discipline, and inhibitory control, two cognitive skills late to develop in children. Chances are good that no matter how much a child might benefit from knowing a secret, they might not be able to keep it.
I was happy to help out on this piece about how to share secrets with your children.
Involving children in secrets is a parenting decision that needs to be carefully considered against the backdrop of your child’s best interests, and also his or her cognitive and emotional capabilities. Licensed clinical psychologist Alicia H Clark says, “Secrets are secrets for a reason— not everyone needs to know everything. And yet, keeping secrets can be hard, and can feel like a lie, especially when it comes to children. Moreover, there can be secrets that, if known by children, can help protect them. If there are secrets you think your child should know about, the first step is assessing the reasons behind it.”