I was doing some research for a friend of mine and was struck by how some of the basic principles of life are consistent. Honesty with discretion is always the best way to address any issue that you or your family must face—at home, at work, and especially in parenting.
Children deserve to be told the truth. Children should not be told un-truths if parents are splitting up or if Grandma is very ill. Perhaps they do not need the details, and perhaps they should be shielded from circumstances that they have no business knowing. But children deserve to know the age-appropriate truth.
Listen carefully to what your child says and correctly assess his questions. I love the story of the young kindergartner who asked his mom that dreaded question one day: “Mom, where did I come from?” The mom decided that it must be time to explain how life is created. The child listened patiently and once the mom was done, he stated, “Hmmm….my friend moved here from Cleveland. I just wondered where we moved here from.” Obviously, Mom didn’t correctly assess what her child was asking.
When attempting to address ANY issue with your child, be sure that everything you tell her is true. People deserve the truth. Children are little people. You certainly need to adjust the degree of how much you share to meet the circumstance and the amount of truth that your child can handle. But, if you tell her a non-truth when she is young, she will learn to distrust you later in life. She might not know the difference now. But as she grows and reflects on what you told her, she will wonder how many other things were not true.
Be candid. Be honest. Be kind. Every person deserves that respect…and that certainly includes the children.
Written by Donna McClintock, COO with Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc.