Being honest with children. Sounds alien to some but makes lots of sense. Children are not strangers in our lives, they know us well and feel when we are not being ourselves. This is a wonderful opportunity to teach them that parents go through things in life, we are only human and our kids are too. It is not a good idea to start pretending that everything is great or, even worse, ignore children’s curiosity and questions by not telling them anything.
Build family trust and understanding from the start. They will be just as honest with you about their lives as they are growing up. No secrets, no misunderstandings, no feelings hurt.
This is an interesting post from Aunt Annie’s Childcare on the subject. Full text found here:
“We should share our true selves with our children. Let’s start at the very beginning;
some people habitually use baby-talk to communicate with small children, hiding their true voices behind a wall of ‘cute’. Many of those adults never quite get out of the habit of talking down to kids. When we talk like that, we’re not being our true selves; we’ve put on some weird vocal disguise for the purpose of talking to a child, and by adolescence that’ll put a gulf of insincerity between us and our children.
Even if we’ve always used an authentic voice, many of us conceal emotional realities from our children. Usually, it’s done with well-meaning intent- whether to protect them from our own frighteningly intense feelings, or to protect them from some happening that we deem too big or too difficult or too adult for them to handle.
Sometimes, in an attempt to understand, children will project their own fears onto what they do know, and they’ll come to some pretty scary conclusions. That’s why many children end up believing that they are the cause of their parents’ divorce. They’ve been left in the dark to invent a pattern of cause and effect for themselves. We can save them that sort of pain by being authentic from the start in speaking to our children about our feelings and about big, adult events like illness, death, divorce and heartache.
Of course, we do need to speak with care. A gentle account of the difficult time you’re going through can be given, and it can be given early- before the toxic atmosphere starts to affect your child’s emotions.”
Photo: Boudewijn Berends (Flickr)