As a parent you choose what you will share with your kids and what will remain a confidence. Research at the University of California, San Diego indicated that a child “who stumbles onto a parent’s lie is very likely to feel betrayed, or at least skeptical about everything he’s told from then on.”
The question becomes: Should parents tell their children everything?
There are things kids don’t need to know but it is interesting to note that the truth often reveals itself. When that occurs, when the child “stumbles onto a parent’s lie” the effect can be devastating and destructive to the parent/child relationship.
There’s no hard and fast rule about what to share and what to keep private.
Parents must make these decisions. If the child’s health is a factor, it’s time to come clean with the truth. For example if the child has assumed that her mom’s husband is her father and it’s a lie, that could definitely be a problem. The truth about her genetic make-up could prove very important.
If the concealed truth is something that might come to light one day, share it when the child is old enough to understand.
For example, if the entire biological and church family knows a child is adopted and the parents choose to hide the fact, the odds are great he will discover the truth from another source.
Some things should be left unspoken.
Kids don’t need or want to know about the intimate life of their parents. As a parent you have the right to respond to your son or daughter’s inquiry about any very personal issue with the simple words, “That’s private.” That response is preferable to using the word “secret.
There are benefits to engaging in difficult conversations with your children.
Dr. Katherine Yost, a marriage and family therapist believes when parents make it OK to discuss difficult things, their kids will “feel freer to come to you with important things when they need help.”
Parents, be wise in your decisions about what to tell your children. Don’t miss the benefits of sharing the truth.
Hear more about how and when to tell your kids what in Kendra Smiley’s interview with Ted and PK on Faith Radio Mornings: