Bad secrets

Birthday presents are closely guarded secrets in this house. The goal is to be the best at getting something the other person would never guess, and making sure that the kids do not inadvertently let the secret out. Rachel is very good, but up until now Caleb has been too young to keep the present surprise secret, and so was usually not given any advanced knowledge. But this year I told him about Yme’s presents, some of which he helped me buy and wrap. He was so good and so proud to be a big boy that kept the present secret.

The kids were talking about it in the car, how good they are at keeping secrets and of course the inevitable ‘who is better than who’ discussion started. I felt that I had to talk to them about secrets that you should not keep. I hate that we live in a world where I even have to mention to my kids that there are adults they can’t trust and secrets they must never keep.

I even said that they need to tell me regardless of what someone threatens. If the person says they will hurt me or them if they tell, don’t worry tell mommy anyway. I can fix everything. Yes I realize that this is a bit of an exageration. I can’t fix everything and I can’t protect them from every bad thing but at this stage I need them to know that they can come to me with anything.

Trying to explain a bad secret to kids is not easy. I said anything that was not a nice birthday surprise. Anything that made you feel bad inside. If it made your heart sore or your tummy feel funny inside then rather tell me. And of course I mentioned no one being allowed to touch their private parts.

Caleb being a typical boy said that he would just beat the badies up, and tell them he was going to tell his mom. I did try to impress upon him that the idea was not to tell the person that you were going to tell me but rather to get away and tell me as soon as possible. But I guess this is a lesson that we speak about more than one time. I just need to open the dialogue with them that they can come to me with anything and that not all adult secrets are good.

I hate feeling like I might scare the kids into thinking that the world is a bad place and they have to be suspicious of everyone, but I suppose a balance is what is needed. Mostly they need to be care free and play and have fun as kids but they also need the knowledge that if something happens they have a refuge and they know mommy said no matter what the other person says they must always tell me.

Have you had these discussions with your kids?
How did you handle it and how did they respond?

6 thoughts on “Bad secrets

  1. My very own Mother used to undermine me with my kids and for example give my everything-intolerant-son food he absolutely wasn’t allowed and tell them it is a secret until they slipped up.
    We then had a long chat about secrets and about how we don’t have any secrets. It worked brilliantly as they very helpfully told my Mom the next time that we don’t keep secrets. It did backfire with E’s Father’s Day gift, but it’s a small price to pay šŸ™‚

  2. well done Tania, it just shows that even Grandparents can think what they are not really doing harm, but secrets from parents is harm. Glad things got better

  3. Yes, I too have this duel about what I would like my children rather not know and what is needed in the society we live in.

    One book Policing Innocence was a great help, but not pleasant reading.

    The writer said she told her children that whenever someone offered them sweets, the should refuse and tell her. She will buy them anything and as much as they want. And at the time of writing they have not worked how to score from it.

    And my sons neither.

  4. I also try not to have secrets with my own children, but did not know how to bring the message about bad ones over. I will your ideas

  5. Esther I taught my kids the sweets thing too, and when Rachel was upset on the flight to Jhb a lady gave her a sweet. She was so good she put it in her pocket and gave it to my mom when she arrived because she said she knew I told her not to take sweets from strangers

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