The Damage of Secrets
Through the years, working as a psychologist, I've seen a number of people who grew up in homes where there were a lot of secrets. I don't think parents set out to cause the damage they do with keeping secrets and avoiding truths, but the long range problems it occurs can be serious.
When people don't talk and avoid what is going on around them, then emotions are not allowed to develop as they should. Typically, a child might think that they have done wrong if they tell. When they are hurting emotionally, they can't share.
Not taking kids seriously can be just as bad. I know of one grown woman who has problems with trust and sharing her true feelings due to being raised like this. As a teenage, she reached out to her mom to express her sadness. She even said she wanted to die. The response she got back was "don't wake your father with your crying". To this day, she says that she still holds her feelings in because she doesn't see them as being important enough to others, and for fear of rejection.
Sometime it is hard for parents to open up to their children because they were taught to keep secrets or didn't have an opportunity to share with their own parents. Superficial relationships can go on for generations.
Now, I don't think parents should involve their children in their own personal conflicts, and certainly not fights, but they should try to develop an open relationship where they do share their own feelings as well as what is going on within the family-within what is appropriate for the child. They should also learn to sit and listen to their children, and not shut them out by their actions and responses so that the kids will keep secrets from them.
Dr. Nona Owens
580 Springridge Rd.
Clinton, Ms. 39056