Wednesday 11 April 2018

Why we don't keep secrets ....

Parenting can be a difficult gig with all the decisions that you need to make to ensure the safety and well being of your children. Being a parent means big responsibilities.

One of the decisions that we made very early on in our parenting journey was that in our family we wouldn't keep secrets no matter how big or small they were. We decided that we would instead keep surprises.

This may sound like a silly decision but there is logical reasoning behind it.

Surprises, generally, make children feel excited or happy. Surprises are usually filled with joy. Surprises are usually short lived, as they're not kept for long periods of time. When you hear surprises think special outings, birthday presents or treats, think fun, think making another person happy!

Secrets on the other hand can have the opposite effect on children. Secrets may cause a child to feel sad, unhappy, worried or scared. When it comes to keeping secrets, children may be bribed or blackmailed or be coerced into not telling the secret by their friends. And if you examine secrets in general, they are usually kept for a long time.

We noticed very early on that every time O was told that she had to keep something a secret, she would become a mess. In her mind, secrets were kept forever and this is something that has never sat well with her. There have been many times when O has been in tears as she has been told a "secret" by one of her friends at school. When O is told "keep it a secret" or "do you want to hear a secret," her anxiety starts creeping up on her.

With O being so very literal whenever she is told to keep something a secret, she thinks that because it needs to be kept a secret forever this means that she can't tell a soul. Now keep in mind that the secrets that she is being told are from peers at school and, usually, these secrets involve a child doing or saying something that they really shouldn't be doing.

In the past O has been bullied at school and has been told by the child/ren doing the bullying that if O tells anyone she'll be in a lot of trouble.

No child, regardless of age, should be made to feel this way. No child should feel the burden of having to keep a secret, regardless of whether it is a good secret or a bad secret.

By telling O and L that we don't keep secrets in our family, even the small and seemingly harmless things like buying a gift for someone or having an ice cream treat, we are also instilling in them that we don't keep big secrets that could potentially be unsafe or not very nice.

We explain this concept to O and L by saying that a surprise is something that we want others to find out about eventually. A secret on the other hand, people may not want others to find out about because the secret might not be a very nice thing to do or say.

We also encourage both O and L to talk to us at any time that they feel uncomfortable when someone tells them to keep something a secret. And when they do come to us with secrets that they've been told, we praise them and let them know that they have done the right thing by talking to us.

We're  quite fortunate, depending on how you look at it, in that at this point in time neither O nor L are very good at keeping surprises or secrets. But in the future this may change and we want to set them up now with the skills so that they will feel comfortable in telling others about the secrets that they've been told to keep.

I am also very happy to say that the concept of not keeping secrets is making sense to both O and L. On numerous occasions, I have heard both O and L exclaim "but we don't keep secrets in our house!" And when I hear them say that, I think to myself, they get it and they're not afraid to tell others!

And to O and L's credit, whenever someone tells them a secret, they come straight to one of us!

Go my little superheroes!


  1. I love this concept! It truly does hold value. You're way of saying surprises instead is great! Thank you for that idea! I will begin to use that with my children.

  2. I love the idea of suprises instead of secrets!

  3. I can see how being asked to keep a secret could create great anxiety in a child, especially a child who is extra sensitive to begin with. I love the open and honest dialogue you have established with your children. Learning this at a young age will make it second nature and will stick with them for the rest of their lives.

  4. This is great I know now we’re not the only family that doesn’t keep secrets. It’s so important to teach our kids at a young age so we always talk about our day and anything that is on our minds.

  5. This is a very enlightening perspective, I hadn't thought about secrets affecting children in this way. I know that in my household I discourage my son from secrets even if they're the little playful ones because I don't want to send mixed messages that some secrets from mom and dad are ok. This could lead to dangerous or harmful situations. Great post!

  6. This is a great post! We try not to keep secrets at our house for the same reasons


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