As a parent I have all the same worries any other parent does. At the top of that list is always that someone will hurt my children. We all want to protect our children in any way we can. One of the tricks I use is that we don't have secrets in our family. I've taught my 5 and 8 year old that we don't keep secrets, only surprises. I've explained that a surprise is something that you will eventually tell the person and is NEVER bad. If someone tells them "Don't tell, it's a secret" they know that they should probably tell us right away. The hardest part is actually reassuring them, and following through on, the fact that they will never get in trouble for telling a "secret". I've made it clear to my 8 year old that if he did something wrong he may get in trouble for it, but never for actually telling me something. I think my 5 year old may still be too young for that concept.
So far I feel we have had great success with our "No Secrets" rule. We were recently able to see it in action after the kids spent the night and day with a family member. I was curious why Noelle had diarrhea all morning the day after she came home and was asking her what she had eaten. Adam fessed up that they had a LOT of soda but were told it was a secret and not to tell. I used this as a teachable moment and asked Noelle if she thought is was a good decision to drink 3+ sodas, when she rarely gets a partial one and even more rarely with caffeine, even though they were available and she was told she could. I also used it to talk again with the kids about the rule and reaffirm that Adam did the right thing by telling us.
Fortunately this was an "easy" secret to deal with as a parent. Adam fessed up, we talked, it got dropped. I hope to never have anything worse happen that falls under our "No Secrets" rule, but at least I feel secure in that I have taught my children that I will be here for them anytime they need to tell me a "secret".
This post was inspired by the mystery thriller novel The Expats by Chris Pavone. Kate Moore happily sheds her old life to become a stay at home mom when her husband takes a job in Europe. As she attempts to reinvent herself, she ends up chasing her evasive husband's secrets. Join From Left to Write on January 22 as we discuss The Expats. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.