Radical honesty – should you?

I found a blog entry in a parents’ conversation site that encourages parents to be “radically honest,” and I stopped, thinking: Can I really be completely honest with my child? Should I?

To be radically honest suits me fine. I came from a family in which no one talked about or shared their feelings. Bad feelings were to be ignored, gotten over quickly–an it’s been hard to get over THAT. To get to know my feelings, listen to them, learn from them. Only then could I go on with my choices. That leads me to think that practicing radical honesty with children might be a good idea.

Now I want to consider another side of it: Can young children really handle everything? Is it good for them to have a radically honest parent?

From the child’s point of view, it is not fair to burden him or her with things he/she cannot handle. A parent should always remember the young child is dependent emotionally on him or her. He is the child’s rock, anchor, and stability.

The small child is self-centered enough not to be able to worry about the parents’ well being. No matter what the parent goes through, this place in the child’s life should be guarded. That brings me to think that the child does not need to know everything, all the time.

So what is a parent to do?

This is a question for balance: Balancing the parent’s inner dialogue, the growing awareness of his/her life, the process of having better understanding of self, and with what he/she chooses to communicate. To commuicate, giving the child a clue of what the parent is going through, is important, as long as the emotional trust the child has in the parent for love and security is not in question.

You might ask: When will the child figure out that the parent cannot control everything? The answer to that is: It will happen; do not rush it. As long as the child needs to imagine you can provide this stability–you need to provide it. Life will present itself to kids soon enough.

I remember the day that awareness dawned on my own children: In the big earthquake of 1989 (CHECK!!!!!) I could not tell them I will make sure they are safe. They were old enough–9 and 11–to watch the news on TV and see the devastation on their own. Now was the time to shift to giving them their own tools for survival. [NEEDS A BIT OF EXPLANATION]

So, these are my thoughts for today about radical honesty. What are yours?

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