TODAY | November 05, 2012
>>> so are you walking around with a family secret your kids don't know about, or are you a parent that may be sharing too much with your kids?
>> before you spill the truth to your children, you may want to think about the consequences of sharing family secrets . dr. janet taylor is a psychiatrist, and shannon ice is a contributing parent editor to " family circle " magazine. nice to see you, ladies.
>> in the world we live today, are we spilling too much?
>> i think you can't confuse truth with consequences. certainly, when you say something, there may be pain, may be shock, but doesn't mean you can't be honest with your children. but sometimes you have to worry -- not worry, but think about am i putting too much on them or do i wait until they are ready. there's a fine line, i think.
>> what kind of secrets are we talking about, what ones are okay to share with your kids?
>> that's important, know what's still private. things you may want to share, financial challenges, perhaps there's a move you guys are considering and it will impact them in big ways. it's okay to talk about marriage troubles, as well, but keep it in context and keep information private that should be private.
>> marriage troubles?
>> children in general, but some children are two and some children are 12. you have to know your child.
>> your kids are living whatever you are. what you don't want to have is silence. where there's silence and secrets, there's shame. we want to teach our children to come to us because of issues that shouldn't be a secret, sexual abuse , physical abuse , anything that threatens their welfare, you want to feel they can come and talk to you.
>> you'd be surprised how many of your signals they are reading. my 8-year-old, for sure, is reading everything i'm doing, changing tone, avoiding topic. they are picking up a lot of your cues already. and they see everybody else sharing.
>> there's a thing i've tried to remember all my life, which is little people do not deserve big people problems, and i think as much as possible, that's a parenting thing. you should say first of all, first and foremost, protect my children.
>> you know?
>> before you burn them.
>> i think you have to separate your own struggles, your own issues versus what they need to know , but you also want to teach them to communicate. again, when we have silence and teach our kids about silence, we can't get to what's good about the relationship.
>> half the families are ending in divorce. let's pretend there is some kind of marital problem going on. what age should you start talking about it? kids, obviously, are picking up mom and dad are fighting all the time.
>> exactly. it's not the problem, it's the tension that it creates. i think to the extent you have to keep things so under wraps you can't be yourself, your kids feel it. what would you say?
>> we have six kids ranging from 5 to 26. how you talk to them, also knowing what your child's emotional capacity is. information that can be private, they don't need to know , for instance, the cause of the divorce. they need to know what those changes are.
>> mommy and daddy love you.
>> they will be safe. kids first want to know they are going to be loved and taken care of.
>> things offlimit?
>> drug abuse , we're getting a lot of questions at " family circle ." how can i talk to my children about the fact i struggled as well. it's what did you learn from that. you don't want to lie, but you want to answer.
>> infidelity, some parents say don't tell mom this, don't tell dad this, don't put your kids in the middle.