Keeping child's secrets from spouse?

[deleted account] ( 17 moms have responded )

If your child has something that they want to confide in you with, but they also say "Please don't tell Dad", how do you handle it? Do you keep the secret from your spouse? Do you and your spouse have a 'no secrets' rule? Do the kids know that whatever they tell one parent, the other parent will find out? How does it work in your family?


This issue came up on the radio this morning and as I was listening I honestly did not know how I felt about it. Our kids are still young enough that child confidences just hasn't ever come up yet. It got me thinking about how I would handle it in the future, which in turn makes me wonder how you all handle it. Some examples of secrets could be a 17yo DD going to her mom for birth control but not wanting the dad to know she's on birth control, or a teen wanting a tatoo or piercing in a somewhat private location on their body and going to one parent to get it but not wanting the other parent to know. For purposes of the discussion though, the secret could be anything and it could be involving a child of any age.


Please share your thoughts / experiences.

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Jodi - posted on 12/19/2010

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It really depends. I mean, my husband and I don't keep secrets from each other, but some things are so minor they aren't even worth mentioning (like, one of the kids misbehaved, I dealt with it, there is no real reason for the other parent to specifically be told about that because it is over and done with). Or we keep secrets about a gift that the kids bought for him, etc (which obviously is something going on now - lots of secret stuff happening around here).

However, some of the big decisions in life, I would discuss with my husband. I don't think I could make a promise not to tell dad. I am wracking my brain at the moment to think of any occasion my step-daughter asked me not to tell her dad something, but I don't think she ever did. I am pretty sure she knew that her dad and I DO talk about things pretty openly. But we are also pretty open with the kids.

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Amber - posted on 12/21/2010

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I agree that minor things really aren't a big deal, but any major things should be shared with both parents.
I think the most important thing is to be honest with your child. If you tell them that you're keeping their secret, keep it. If you can't keep it, then you need to tell them that before you talk to the other parent.
And the option for them to tell their other parent first should be there too. So, you might be keeping a big secret for a day or two, but not indefinitely.

LaCi - posted on 12/21/2010

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We aren't there yet. I doubt we'll have a reason to keep anything from one another, since we think the same. I see a reason for it sometimes. Like, I'm pretty sure my mom never mentioned to my dad that I was sexually active and on birth control, and I REALLY doubt he would have wanted to know that.

Candi - posted on 12/21/2010

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It all depends. If its a life-changing thing, then both parents need to know, but for trivial things, its good for a child to have a parent to confide in so they don't go to someone else. When my daughter wanted to use Nair on her legs, she thought my husband would say "no", so she asked me not to tell him. No big deal. I am her mom, so I can make decisions too! When my son made a low grade, he asked me not to tell my husband, so I said "whatever". I knew he would find out eventually!If my daughter asked for birth control and was still breathing when I got through with her, then we would have a discussion with me, her, andher dad. That is a life-changing thing. A bad grade, Nair on the legs, breaking a dish....those are not life changing and to keep arguments or yelling to a minimum, its better to keep some things between the child and parent. I know all of my daughter's drama at school, my husband(her dad) knows nothingI'm not saying its none of his business, but he doesn't care. He knows it will all be different in a week anyway. She tells me everything b/c I listen and act like I care. lol. I know school drama will become more intense as she gets older and I want her to still come to me, thats why I listen to all the Elementary drama now! You want your child to trust you to keep somethings just between you two. Sometimes kids go to one parent with something serious knowing the other parent will find out and have time to calm down before discussing it with the child. Major stuff=include both parents, minor stuff=not an issue. I know I rambled, just hope I am clear. lol

Stifler's - posted on 12/21/2010

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I'd keep the secret. They need to know they can trust you!! I HATE it when I tell my friends things and they tell their husband or boyfriend. There are exceptions though, like if it was something he was going to find out about and would be pissed if I didn't tell him.

Jess - posted on 12/21/2010

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I think it would depend on the secret. Something like going on birth control isn't something my daughters dad would ever want to know about. He would prefer she NEVER dates !!!

If it was for example, my daughter came to me as a teenager and said she was pregnant, but didn't want her dad to know just yet. I would give her a dead line to tell him before I did.

I think if the topic of the secret will hurt your spouse and you also keep it from him then its like doubling the pain. But if its something that you can fix without him ever knowing about no point breaking your child's trust.

[deleted account]

That's such a tough question. I remember asking my mom not to tell my dad things and being really pissed when I found out she did. I think my approach would probably be to tell my child that it's not fair to expect me not to share things that effect him or her with her father because he is a parent too. I would think try to get their buy-in on telling the other parent.

[deleted account]

Like others here, my daughter is only young so this hasn't come up, but my thinking now is that I'd probably keep the secret if it isn't harmful. Though honestly, I can't think of anything that my child would want to keep secret. We're pretty liberal parents. I'd rather my child trusted me enough to always confide in me than to keep to herself serious issues where I could have helped.

Amy - posted on 12/19/2010

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We only have a 4 and 2 year old, so this hasn't really come up. If my daughter bleeds through her pants or something and says don't tell dad, fine. He doesn't really need - or want, I'm sure - to know that. We haven't kept any secrets from each other and don't intend to. Whether it's birth control or whatever, if I know about it, dad's going to know about it. We are all under one roof and guess what - if daughter is going to be sexually active, it's not something we're just going to look the other way about. Both of us will talk to her - or son as well. I don't have enough experience on this, but our kids do know mom and dad are on the same page at least 95% of the time. :D

[deleted account]

I can't really answer this since there is no co-parenting here. My ex only sees the kids a few times a year and we don't talk.

No 'secrets' have come up, but I do keep him informed of the major things.... like when Sam had a concussion... of course, he never called HER to check on her after she was released from the hospital..... :(

Isobel - posted on 12/19/2010

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Rupert has already kept my daughter's secrets from me (when her dad promised to buy her a cell phone) but he wouldn't if it were something that he couldn't handle or that could hurt her.

Rosie - posted on 12/19/2010

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depends on the secret. so yes i would do it, but it would totally have to be dependent on alot of things.

April - posted on 12/19/2010

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My son is almost 2...he has only come to me with one secret so far: "Mama..I..I..drew on the wall!" I knew my husband would flip, so I helped him get it off.

Sherri - posted on 12/19/2010

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My husband and I have a no secret rule. So no matter what I tell my spouse the kids won't always know that I told him. However, I always do. Secrets in a family or relationship can be marriage ending.

Joanna - posted on 12/19/2010

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It depends on the "secret," really. A daughter not wanting her father to know about birth control is one thing, that's a female issue that could be embarrassing for her. But like a tattoo, physically altering the child's body, that should be between both parents.

Fiona - posted on 12/19/2010

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I think that this is a tricky one...

Afterall we want to teach our children that confidences are to be kept and that we are trustworthy people.
The way I handle it is this....before any sort of disclosure I try and get in that I will keep a confidence (secret) if no one else is in danger, or if by keeping the confidence no one is put at risk including the child to others. So..if it is a secret like...I had a first kiss, a surprise for Xmas or I wet my pants....would I keep it sure! If it is something more serious then I wouldn't. I would explain why I felt that I couldn't keep the confidence.

If it is a birth control secret then I think that the mum should already have gone to the daughter, the tattoo or piercing would be discussed with both adults.

This is probably rambling as I CANT stand the small reply box because I lose my thread :/

It depends on what it is and the age of the child and the relationship you have with the child.

Random and rambling I'm sorry

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