Last year when the whole Penn State scandal came out and everyone was talking about the allegations that were falling on so many people at Penn State it obviously made me think of my own kids. I feel as though when something like that happens and you are a parent you immediately put yourself in the shoes of those parents. In an instant you are imagining all the “what if’s” and “what would I do” scenarios.
I remember after watching all this unfold on the news and reading the grand jury reports (which were awful) I casually asked Cayden if he had any secrets from me. That’s what always strikes me in all these cases where children are taken advantage of and they have great parents is how they keep secrets from them. Of course I have never been in their shoes, so I can’t judge, but I am in awe of how they wouldn’t tell their parents.
Cayden got really quiet and told me that he did have a secret that he had never told me about. Of course my heart leaped into my throat and I just knew that this was the moment where my life would never be the same and my child would tell me the awful story that something bad had happened to him. Instead he told me that the other day he had let our dog out without telling me.
Oh good gracious.
I of course told him that was okay and not really a secret. I pressed harder, because I just had to know. Anything else?
He then told me that he had a secret that him and daddy did and it was a secret between them and I wasn’t supposed to know. On one hand it was super cute because it was this father/son moment that I was pressing into. I almost didn’t want to press and break this father/son code, but I also didn’t want my son to feel as though there was something that he couldn’t tell me. I told him that mommy and daddy didn’t have any secrets from each other, and so he could tell me. He completely trusted me and told me about the time that daddy had given him extra ice cream. I reassured him that daddy wouldn’t have wanted him to have a secret from me and later that was reinforced from Aaron.
One thing that we’ve tried really hard in our family to do is to tell our kids that there are no secrets in our family. One time while at my parents house my dad took the boys down to the kitchen (they work at a camp) and they had the orange soda that of course mom never lets them have. It’s their thing. Pops takes them and gives it to them because their mom never will. One time they came home acting all suspicious about where they had been and what they had been doing. I knew what they were doing and I was playing their game. Then they said that they couldn’t tell me because it was a secret that Pops said don’t tell Mom about. Y’all this sounds so innocent, and with my dad it is, but in my mind this is setting my kids up to know what it is like to have done something that they know is not what mom would want, and to keep that from your parents. I for sure don’t care if my dad gives my kids orange soda, and I love that it’s their thing that they do, but on that day I told my dad that I didn’t want to use the word “secret” anymore to define it. He completely understood and I knew that he would.
It’s a shame that this is the way that our world is, but when things like the Penn State case and the Kanakuk cases come out, my idea of parenting is refocused. I don’t want my kids to ever think that secrets are okay in our family. Aaron and I tell the kids often that even mommy and daddy don’t keep secrets from each other. Secrets are where sin can dominate and take over. We’re trying so hard to keep secrets out of our home.
How do you help your kids know that secrets aren’t okay?