Last Updated on June 26, 2020 by Corinne Schmitt
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.
9 thoughts on “Why You Should Not Confide In Your Child”
Very interesting article!
I’m on the other side, I am a kid who likely was confided in, especially as I grew older, such as when I was in college. I remember my parents telling me things they didn’t like about one another, sharing their life regrets with me, or telling me about X problem going on and how it’s so hard and how they have no one to talk to…
It made me feel sad because I couldn’t do anything to help them. It made me feel like the world was an awful and unfair place. And when one of them spoke about how regretted marrying the other because of how much they changed, or one regretted the childhood they gave my sibling and I, or how one feels like a failure as a parent, it made me feel like I was a failure as their child. And it made me feel worthless because, if they could go back in time and change those decisions they regret, I wouldn’t be who I am now, or I wouldn’t even exist.
That was most definitely not their intent, I know they love my sibling and I dearly, but I can’t help how it makes me feel.
I’m so sorry that you have to bear that burden. It sounds like your parents had a lot of regrets, especially when it came to the life they were providing for you and your sibling. They must have thought very highly of you and felt close to you to unburden themselves to you as they did. It doesn’t make it right, but hopefully viewing it that way can help you let go of some of the negative feelings you have about your role in the family. I wish I had something more to offer. Sending you virtual hugs and a mountain of respect for sharing your experience here.
As a parent educator and mom of 3, you’ve got it 100% correct! You need to always be aware that you are the parent and your child is not a peer. Your children need security and stability as they grow and develop, not shared secrets and worries.
I Strongly agree with this , It is , In yours and your child’s best interests, You have to stay boss , great read 🙂 Light & Peace 🙂
Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Have a wonderful week!
I strongly agree with this. So many times parents want to be their child’s best friend, but as you say, the parent is the “boss” and the relationship has to be treated that way at time. When raising my daughter, I always felt that if I told her all of my problems and issues, she couldn’t see me as a strong person and someone to lean on. Great and thought provoking article.
Cynthia, you are the perfect example of how close a mother and daughter can be without violating the parent-child role. The love and respect between you and your daughter is evident and I know you never tried to be her “buddy.”
I agree 100%. I recently watched an episode of, “the Gilmore Girls.” When asked how I liked it, I replied that the mother and daughter were more best friends, than mom and daughter! And , that it would not be good for young, impressionable moms! I grew up in a very dysfunctional home, and I know from personnel experience that a teen age girl, or younger, wants her mom to set rules, and be sure they are followed. I use to wonder why, my friends got punished, and I didn’t! When you are a parent, and set rules, following them, and disciplining in love, your child feels love, and safe, too.