Every day as I browse through my Twitter feed, I see post after post about “the secret to raising happy kids;” or “the secret to getting kids to eat healthy;” going all the way back to “the secret to getting baby to sleep through the night.” Secrets, secrets everywhere! These writers throw the word “secret” around like it will entice a reader like me as I scroll through my feed. Secret! I must know it! Well, I guess it did work to an extent.
Secrets, by definition are meant to be kept from people:
Secret: kept from knowledge or view, hidden (Mirriam Webster’s Dictionary)
Call me crazy, but if I had figured out the “secret” to getting my son to do long division at 9 months old you’d better believe I’d shout it from the rooftops–though I never was so good at keeping secrets anyhow. Secret recipes are handed down so that only a select few can make the perfect mashed potatoes. As a society, we are obsessed with secrets; with being part of an exclusive group that’s “in the know.” But what really bugged me the most of all these postings were the ones along the lines of “secrets to raising happy, healthy kids.” Why would we keep this information a secret from parents?
If you asked my opinion about the secret to happy, healthy relationships is that there are no secrets. Now I don’t mean unloading every personal detail about your personal life onto your kids, but not keeping things from them either. Kids imitate what we do more than we may notice, so much so that a parent who “doesn’t use curse words” might be in for a rude awakening when their toddler starts spewing that one four-letter word that slips up every now and then. When your kids notice you hiding things from them, they may begin to see it as acceptable. Thus begins the neverending cycle of secrets.
Parents of teenagers wonder why they can’t have an open and honest relationship with their budding pubescent whirlwinds of hormones, perhaps it’s because they aren’t offering the same in return. We tend to spend a lot of time asking questions and seeking answers without meeting halfway. Our kids don’t want us to be perfect, they don’t expect us to know it all–the best way to be a great parent is to be yourself, honest and true. Now this isn’t about disclosing every aspect of your life to your kids. Some things that are better kept private, meaning not making an issue in front of kids. Personal relationship issues and financial troubles are a few examples of things that should be left for closed doors.
In short, my secret to happy kids is to share as much as you can with them. And remember–secrets, secrets are no fun.