Monday, January 14, 2013

A Secret vs A Surprise

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.

11 comments:

  1. I need to get my four year old on board with this. He keeps secrets all the time, about food he has sneaked because I restrict his sugar. A couple of days ago I found a cupcake wrapper in the laundry room (we made them for church). I told him I was more upset about the fact he had sneaked it than the fact that he ate it. He didn't get it though. I can't believe that family member actually told your kids to keep a secret from you. That is just unacceptable. You need to get the MOMfia on that person asap!

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  2. Nice way of turning that around. I think I need to work on this with my kids. I love the distinction between secrets and surprises. :)

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  3. Like Carrie, I love your use of secrets vs. surprises. This topic is so important for kids and keeping the lines of communication open. It's still a subject for discussion in our house and my kids are in their twenties!

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  4. I agree with Carrie and really like that you explained the caveat of surprises and exactly what that difference is. It's nice to see something we've taught our kidlets be put to use in real life instances.

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  5. Wow, that's a great idea. I can't believe it never occurred to me to teach that to my kids. I will be doing that. Thanks!

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  6. What a great idea! I will have to teach that to my kids. We've never really talked about secrets vs surprises before.

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  7. I like the way you did that! I started with my kids really early, when Grandma told them not to tell me that she put sugar in their Cheerios. I explained to the kids that no secret was appropriate, especially if they want you to keep something from your parents. I also let my mother know (probably more graphic than I needed to be) that she could be setting them up to get hurt, molested, or worse, by getting them comfortable with keeping secrets. Freaked her out, but sometimes shock works.

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  8. I like the way you did that! I started with my kids really early, when Grandma told them not to tell me that she put sugar in their Cheerios. I explained to the kids that no secret was appropriate, especially if they want you to keep something from your parents. I also let my mother know (probably more graphic than I needed to be) that she could be setting them up to get hurt, molested, or worse, by getting them comfortable with keeping secrets. Freaked her out, but sometimes shock works.

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