Parenting doesn’t come with a rulebook. Most of what we know comes from the trial and errors of other brave souls as well as our own with each new child. One aspect of the parent-child relationship that is shown not to be effective is the “friend-confidante” role. There are several reasons why you should not confide in your child.
“What Did You Say?”
Ever heard of TMI? In kid-speak that means “too much information.” It occurs when we, as parents, share information with our kids that are best kept to ourselves. Think about it. How uncomfortable would you feel if your boss called you to his/her office and began spouting off the difficulties in the marital relationship?
The first reason why confiding in your child is not wise is their standing in relation to us. Just like the boss in the previous example, a child is, for lack of a better word, a subordinate in the parent-child relationship. Certain conversations are meant only for those who hold the same position. Discuss matters of the heart with another adult of the same age, or even better still, with your partner. Consolation or support should come from a peer. As a parent, your role is to provide solace to your children, not to seek it from them.
Never Let ‘em See You Sweat
Many a coach has uttered these words to his/her team before a game or when the chips were down. As a parent, raising kids won’t be easy. You’ll get fed up, exhausted, angry, sad and every emotional state in between. But, your kids don’t have to know that. Find ways to cope through the support of other parents who have experienced the same thing.
The second reason not to confide in a child is that they see a side of you that they can’t handle. Parents are seen as strong pillars by their kids. Telling your child that your boss is horrible, your feet are always tired and you want to scream, puts chinks in that “pillar” status. They begin to see you as fragile and delicate. In an effort to keep mom or dad happy, the child begins to take on the responsibility of propping you up emotionally. That is not their job and it adds a responsibility to children that they may be too young to handle.
Only say what needs to be said. Answer the questions that are asked. Many lawyers have recited these two lines to their clients. Don’t give the other side ammunition that they can use against you later. It makes sense. How many of us have had friends break a confidence when they were angry with us?
The third reason not to confide in your child is because you run the risk of your child using the information against you later on. Children, especially teens, are emotional creatures who are still trying to get a handle on all the changes that are going on in their lives. Manipulation is not uncommon. And, telling them all your secrets is one way they can gain the upper hand when they want permission to do something.
Most of parenting is trial and error but there are a few hard-learned tips that can help. One of them is not to treat your child as a confidante. Unfortunately, this is something I have learned from experience and it is one of the mistakes you can’t undo.