Monday, March 4, 2013

Dirty Little Secrets

I read this article yesterday and it really slammed home to me how bad it is to ask kids to keep secrets, even innocent ones.

Philosophy on keeping secrets

I posted this small summary of it on my personal FB page but think it's important enough to put out here too.

So to those people who have friends/family with young kids, please do not ever give the kids a treat and then tell them "not to tell mommy" or "it's our little secret". You mean well of course, but not only are you giving food the parents might not approve of, you are grooming the child for a predator. It's a very common practice with predators to use these words while offering treats and rewards, leading up to abuse. Do the child a favor and don't give them any treats without asking. Make mom and dad the bad guy if necessary ( "mommy said no" ) Remember, secrets are bad.

I  know I've done it. I can remember a time a couple of weeks ago when Corwyn was sleeping. Nathan wanted the last homemade muffin. Normally if they were awake, I'd make them split it. But I gave the whole thing to Nathan and asked him not to tell Corwyn. Of course being 3, he told Corwyn the first chance he could get ;-) But it was wrong of me to say that even though I didn't use the word `secret` it was what I was asking him to do. And I didn't even think twice when I said it to him.

As a single parent, I`m not in the position to say "don't tell [other parent]" that:
  • I gave you a snack before dinner
  • broke something
  • bought something expensive
  • had a car accident
  • used a swear word
  • etc
So while I was not encouraging keeping secrets from another parent, I was encouraging secrets. And as the article mentions, this can lead to making my kids vulnerable in so many ways (not to mention it makes it seem like lying acceptable if I tell them to do it)

I'm starting by working on myself, making sure I don't find myself doing something like I did above and ask one child not to tell when I do something special for the other. I'm also going to ask those around me to do the same thing. I know I will slip up. I know other people will too. As long as we all make an honest effort, we'll get there quickly and secrets will be a thing of the past.

At the same time, I'm trying to teach my kids that secrets are wrong. I want them to know that they can always tell me anything, that I will always love them, not matter what (even if they get drunk at 16 and crash the car, I'll be mad as all Hell but I will still love them).

So how can will I handle things like surprises? Right now, at 3.5 not a chance in Hell of getting them used to the idea of waiting for anything. But I want to teach them that surprises, are something you know but don't tell 'yet'. Something that is good to share with someone, but you have to wait to share it.

How about at your place? How do you handle secrets?

(I'm also addicted to Dirty Little Liars on Netflix and wow, talk about the consequences of secrets!)


K J and the kids said...

I've done this with their there's only 2 beaters with cookie dough on them and 5 kids....3 of whom are playing downstairs. I have said....just eat it upstairs and don't tell them that you got it or they'll be mad that they didn't get one.

Christine Fretwell said...

It's a hard one isn't it? And you have many more kids than I do.

Have you found them keeping secrets from you yet?