Why I tell my Children the Truth.

When our first child was born, my husband and I made a promise to her, and each other, that we would always tell her the truth. Sometimes, that hasn't been easy, but as time has gone on it has become our normal.
Me with Heather when she was new and I was considerably younger

Sometimes, explaining to a child why you are angry as opposed to just being angry with them, isn't easy, explaining that by doing the stupid thing they have just done, they could have:
  1. Got run over and died
  2. Cut their finger off (or any other part of them)
  3. Hurt someone else
  4. Made themselves very sick and vomity
  5. Got so dirty that Mummy and Daddy couldn't bring them back in the car fully clothed but instead, they would have to be naked, as the filth would have been too bad and all the clothes would need throwing away, forever, and could not even be washed. Ever.  
This is harder than just shouting 'Stop it....don't make me come over there...or else.'

Don't get me wrong, I have shouted those very words, but I have then gone on to explain, why I shouted them. The first step is always to stop them from doing the dangerous thing. The next step is to explain why it's a dangerous thing. Sadly, I think some busy parents just don't feel like they have the time.

Personally, I think, if you make the time when they are little, later you will have far less trouble.

So what about when they ask those awkward questions:
  1. What's that Mummy? When they are looking at someone with a physical disability or deformity. 
  2. Where do babies come from?
  3. What happens when you die?
  4. Do you believe in heaven/God/The Devil/Hell/Fairies/Santa Claus
  5. Why doesn't Tommy's Mummy and Daddy talk to each other any more?
  6. What's wrong with you? (when you have just lost a baby)
I could patronise you with a long drawn out explanation of what we said to each of these examples, the truth is we explained them the best way we could to our children at the time they asked it. We tried to adapt it according to their level of maturity at the time, and as a result, our house is always full of conversation. We encourage our children to ask why, to question everything, including politics, sexuality, religion etc.

Every morning over breakfast we listen to the BBC News, this is guaranteed to open up a discussion, sometimes it's terrorism, Brexit, or something else. Our children want to understand the world they live in, so we do everything we can to open up that world to them.

I don't really think about this any more as this is just the way I talk to my kids. So I was surprised when on a night out with friends, I caused uproar. I said something like,

'Oh, I was only saying to Heather and Lola the other day, that due to overpopulation there is a risk that they may not be allowed to have more than one child in the future, and that we may go the way of China.'

My friends were horrified. How could I possibly dent the optimism of my children's future with a possible grim truth?

This is not the first time I have been criticised for this. When I was told I had Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML), I told my children; they were 4 and 8 at the time.

Of course, I told them in a way that was appropriate to their age, but I didn't want them thinking we were keeping secrets.

I know children are incredibly intuitive, and they know when something is wrong. If you talk to any adult who as a child saw their parents break up; they will tell you they knew something was wrong, and as no one told them what it was, they felt it was their fault. Children are not stupid, and yet adults insist on keeping secrets from them.

Kids have the internet now, they are connected to the world, they know so much more than we did at their age simply because the internet has given them information. Your job, as a parent, is to make sure they have the good sense to be able to interpret the good information from the bad, the tabloid from the broadsheet. Don't let them fall for the headline, encourage them to understand the facts. Knowledge is power.
My girls now

I have not broken my children by telling them the truth. Instead, I have two intelligent, bright, questioning people who are ready for what the world will throw at them, full of optimism and potential. Don't shield your children from the ugly and unpleasant, prepare them for it, so they are ready to fight it, and make it better.

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