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How do you draw the line between expecting your kids to keep family issues private and burdening them by expecting them to keep problems secrets.

It's so hard to see kids struggling with issues they don't feel free to talk to anyone about.  It's so common for abused kids to be trained not to say anything. The burden they carry is just terrible. But sometimes kids also keep other family issues secret too.  

When I was in school I told a teacher something that happened at home. It wasn't serious or anything. My mother was very upset that I had embarrassed the family. I still feel crappy when I think about how upset my mom was.  As a parent I dont' want my kids to feel like they aren't allowed to talk about things.

My oldest son will attend the school where I work next year. I certainly don't want him going in and telling everyone every time Dad and I get in a fight, but I also want him to feel free to talk to someone if he's upset about something. 

Is this something you talk to your kids about?

by on Jan. 4, 2013 at 8:41 AM
Replies (21-30):
kailu1835
by on Jan. 5, 2013 at 4:05 PM

It's simple.  Our kids don't need to be privy to our family problems.  I'm sure they may be aware on some level if we have a problem, but you don't talk to your younger kids about family problems.  You also do not fight in front of young children, as it can upset their stability.  Older kids can discern what's appropriate to talk about to the general public, and what isn't.  It is also less appropriate to completely shelter older kids from real life problems.  It is totally appropriate to have fights in front of older kids, so that they can see how adults resolve situations even when they're angry.  These things can be used as learning discussions.

ysmeine
by on Jan. 5, 2013 at 4:38 PM

I would use it as a moment to teach manners. Would he like it if you told everyone that he was arguing with his sibling/ It is about respect to family members to not gosip about them. That is a far cry from keeping secrets. It is however a two way street. If you tell grandma everytime they frustrate you, then you are breaking their trust too. 

Momyplease
by on Jan. 5, 2013 at 4:45 PM
you ladies have good ideals and habits about this issue. myself I dont share stuff with my son that a child do not need to know our worry about. any other issue that he has is for anyones airs. because those arnt much nor serious. I believe in letting my child know of things on a need to know bases.
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Momyplease
by on Jan. 5, 2013 at 4:47 PM
well said

Quoting kailu1835:

It's simple.  Our kids don't need to be privy to our family problems.  I'm sure they may be aware on some level if we have a problem, but you don't talk to your younger kids about family problems.  You also do not fight in front of young children, as it can upset their stability.  Older kids can discern what's appropriate to talk about to the general public, and what isn't.  It is also less appropriate to completely shelter older kids from real life problems.  It is totally appropriate to have fights in front of older kids, so that they can see how adults resolve situations even when they're angry.  These things can be used as learning discussions.

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wakymom
by Ruby Member on Jan. 5, 2013 at 5:52 PM

 If it is something we don't want repeated to anyone, we tell the kids "This does not get repeated." We do that w/ things like when we explained why we had to stop giving them an allowance- we wanted them to understand why, but the neighbors don't need to know that sort of thing. So far, it seems to be working.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GinaChristine
by New Member on Jan. 5, 2013 at 6:58 PM

I wouldn't limit their ability to talk about what goes on in the home, as sometimes kids feel so much better after letting it all out. I'd just prefer that they talked to a trusted adult as opposed to friends their own age.

sarah.a.dury
by on Jan. 5, 2013 at 7:07 PM
I tell my kids we don't keep secrets we keep surprises. I don't want some creep molesting my daughters and telling them its a secret. But i do think birthday surprises are good!
Kaya529
by on Jan. 5, 2013 at 7:15 PM
I will teach him the rule I follow. If it affects me than I can talk about it. If not than it isn't my secret to share. I would never tell him he couldn't talk about an issue he is having. If I don't want to be embarrassed than I shouldn't act in ways that would be embarrassing.
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Razzle_Dazzle1
by Member on Jan. 5, 2013 at 7:18 PM

Well, all kids need someone outside of the family that they can talk to, especially when they get older. If you and your husband get into a fight, it may upset your children and they may need to talk. My daughter and stepdaughter got to the school where I teach so, at open house, I introduced them to the school counselor and told them that, if they needed to talk, they could talk to her. Stuff happens and they need to be able to count on someone outside of the home. One of the key signs of abuse is a code of silence in the household so, while I encourage my kids to be discrete, sometimes they need to vent.

When my sister was a teenager, she and my mother fought constantly. They didn't care if I was in the room or stuck in the car. I tried to get them to stop and I got screamed at. Once, they got into a fight and I tried to shut them up and my sister shoved me into the wall and I told her I hated her. The next day at school, I went to my counselor and she made me feel much better. She even gave me a book to read and it helped to talk to someone else. Designate a person that it is ok to tell their secrets too.

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Kathy489
by Member on Jan. 5, 2013 at 7:33 PM
1 mom liked this

This is a good question, but there aren't any defined answers. Each situation is different, and each child is different, with various needs as to how to handle his or her issues. Something that is devastating to one child or to one family may not be an issue to another child or to another family, (as in your case where something wasn't a big deal, but it embarrassed your mom).

As a teacher, I have heard some things over the years that I know, without a doubt,  I wasn't supposed to hear. My way of handling it was just to let it go and to not repeat it any further. I figured that this particular child must have had a need to say whatever she said, or it was just an age-related behavior (second grade) when children blurt out everything. As the adult, it was my job not to repeat it, in which case, I would have been participating in gossip that could do damage.

On the other hand, we also have to judge in each case, whether or not it should be reported. Some children need help, and they are reaching out for it. Just pray that we make the right decisions at the right time.

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