Elementary School Kids

Privacy vs. Secrets
January 4, 2013 at 8:41 AM

How do you draw the line between expecting your kids to keep family issues private and burdening them by expecting them to keep problems secrets.

It's so hard to see kids struggling with issues they don't feel free to talk to anyone about.  It's so common for abused kids to be trained not to say anything. The burden they carry is just terrible. But sometimes kids also keep other family issues secret too.  

When I was in school I told a teacher something that happened at home. It wasn't serious or anything. My mother was very upset that I had embarrassed the family. I still feel crappy when I think about how upset my mom was.  As a parent I dont' want my kids to feel like they aren't allowed to talk about things.

My oldest son will attend the school where I work next year. I certainly don't want him going in and telling everyone every time Dad and I get in a fight, but I also want him to feel free to talk to someone if he's upset about something. 

Is this something you talk to your kids about?


  • steelcrazy
    January 4, 2013 at 9:43 AM

    When I was a kid, my mom would always say "What is said at our diningroom table, stays in our house".  I have this same rule in my own house now.  It helps my boys know that whatever they tell us will be kept in confidence, that we won't go telling their friends/family/teachers what the kids had to say about them, etc.  The boys also know that they aren't supposed to go gossiping to friends/family/teachers about what we say either.

    On the other end of the coin, we frequently talk about abuse, both physical and emotional.  I try very hard to make sure that the boys understand that if someone is really being hurt, then they need to speak up immediately to a trusted adult.

    This is another one of those long term conversations that you add on to little by little.  Kinda like "the talk" that some feel like they need to have when puberty hits shouldn't be a one time conversation.  I would start now and slowly work on it and remind them when necessary.

    PS - my oldest son happily told his kindergarten teacher (known town gossip) all about my husband hitting the side of the garage and ripping the passenger mirror off of my car while backing out of the garage.  He went into major detail over what I said and everything.  Not my proudest moment.

  • corrinacs
    January 4, 2013 at 12:17 PM

    Thank you so much for bringing this up.  Its something I have thought really hard about for a long time.

    Not just about our own family, but other "secrets" he may be asked to keep from friends or other families.

    I have encouraged him to tell me things.  Just talking about school and life.  And who his friends are, etc.  Hopefuly talking about those things on a regular basis will help him open up when the time comes.

  • Kris_PBG
    January 4, 2013 at 12:48 PM

    My kids both attend the school where I teach...

    I have never put limits on "home" issues, but there have been situations with their friends that we have talked about and I asked ds1 to keep to himself to not hurt feelings.  He has always abided by that, but he also understood the rationale behind it.

    The only issue I have "set up" to be in my favor is that I have always called beer or wine "soda".  LOL! No - my kids don't drink soda (of any kind!) but I did it years ago in case one day my kids said "My mom likes beer" or something to that effect!  LOL!  Not that I drink so much of it - but it was just one of those things I stacked in my favor!  LOL!!!!!!!!!!!

  • smushy79
    January 4, 2013 at 12:50 PM

     We just had this discussion with my 6 year old. He tells my MIL everything!! Then she flys off the handle at us if it is something she doesnt like or think he should be privy to. I just told him that things we talk about at home are not to be shared with other people.

  • saltlifemama
    January 4, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    This is a interesting though topic. My boys have no filter which is bad and good. They share everything that happens at school with me which is great. However they share everything that happens at home at school and with other family members which is not so great.

    We recently sat both boys down and talked to them about things we share and things we don't. Things that involve our family like mommy and daddy discussions don't need to be shared, and if your brother got grounded, ect. If they are in doubt then we tell them they most likely didn't need to be passing that info on. 

    So far they seem to understand those guidelines and its helped. I don't want them to ever feel they are keep secrets and hope that we are teaching them the difference between secrets and just things that are privet.

  • la_bella_vita
    January 4, 2013 at 1:44 PM

     I have told my oldest DD not to share certain things with family members.

  • Mommy4000
    January 4, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    I do expect my kids to talk about our family with some sort of discretion. What I've said to them is that what happens in our home is our business, but at the same time there is nothing specific that needs to be kept secret. Usually, if something comes up I let them know that they don't have to lie about anything that involves the family, but they don't have to share everything either. Usually it's more having them keep things to themselves around my family, because my family takes everything the wrong way. Talking to teachers or friends, it's really not a big deal, I don't embarrass easily anyway. My husband is the "sharer" in the family. He's the one I have to scold about keeping things private.

  • CjEmmemommy
    January 4, 2013 at 1:50 PM

    I like the dining table ideal and not fighting infringe of the children. 

  • soymujer
    January 4, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    Quoting CjEmmemommy:

    I like the dining table ideal and not fighting infringe of the children. 

  • aetrom
    by aetrom
    January 4, 2013 at 4:43 PM
    I guess I have always taught that if it does not affect you directly it is no ones business. I try to teach gossip instead.

Elementary School Kids

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