We all sometimes witness things that make us want to BARK at other people. Bad drivers, fashion victims, slow walkers and close talkers all bring out the worst in me. I know you can’t picture old Magnolia popping a vein from all the restraint, but truly, I do sometimes just turn the other cheek.

There is one thing I cannot bear and you shouldn’t either.

As Mothers, we often entrust our children to other people. Sometimes babysitters, our in-laws (shudder) and day cares. We breathe a sigh of relief when the Daddy takes them out for an errand so we can deal with our body hair or whatever is currently plaguing us. But do you know that very often these folks – although incredibly well intentioned – might be teaching your child to be a victim of abuse?

I might stand alone in this view, and will withstand the torrent of screechers who I offend, but if you think about it for a second, you might agree with me just a little.

People want to give your kids treats, or let them sit in the front seat, or do stuff with them that everybody knows Mom would not permit. They want to feed them contraband chocolates, or Pop or let them watch movies you wouldn’t. The lure of being the provider of the special treat is so great that they do it even though they know you disapprove. And rather than owning up to their blatant disregard for the rules, because they are assholes, they tell the child not to tell you.

This is teaching the child to keep secrets. It is teaching them that secrets from mommy are especially okay. And worst of all, it is teaching that Mom isn’t safe. It has been done by Grandparents since the beginning of time, but that doesn’t make it right.

A friend of mine talked about the time she brought home doughnuts. Her two year old picked up a cruller and said “Look! A don’t tell mama bun”. The now busted, and currently doghouse-residing husband had been teaching the child to be dishonest.

I don’t think I have to draw the line for you smart people, but I will because some of you might not be. A child who is taught to keep secrets will do so when threatened by an abuser. Children do not have the skills to differentiate between an innocent secret and a really bad one.

It may be a point of friction in your life, it sure was in mine. Everybody got informed of the “no subterfuge” rule, and when broken the consequences were harsh. We have compliance from all caregivers, and my children are now just about past the danger zone where they might be victimized by Uncle Pervy. It was painful but it was oh so worth it.

Protect your babies, don’t let them be given secret ice cream.

Magnolia Ripkin
Author

Our Editor-in-Chief Magnolia Ripkin is sort of like your mouthy Aunt who drinks too much and tells you how to run your life, except funny... well mostly funny... like a cold glass of water in the face. She writes a flagrantly offensive blog at Magnolia Ripkin Advice Blog answering pressing questions about business, personal development, parenting, heck even the bedroom isn't safe. She is the Editor in Chief at BluntMoms. Other places to find her: Huffington Post, The Mighty and Modern Loss. You can also check her out in two amazing compendiums of bloggers who are published in “I Just Want To Be Alone.” And most recently, Martinis and Motherhood, Tales of Wonder, Woe and WTF

6 Comments

  1. Amen to this. None of this don’t tell Mommy bullshit. And no lies. No matter what. They know they can tell us anything, whether it was that they had an extra (five) cookies at the party or that they are being bullied at school. And that we will listen. If they lie, there are consequences. We can’t help them if we don’t know what’s going on, and I’m glad we started early with the no lie policy, even with things some might thing innocent (don’t tell Mom we got ice cream, fuck no, my husband and I don’t operate that way). When things like bullying, unfortunately, came up at school for both boys, they felt safe to tell and we handled things swiftly. Fortunately, nothing worse than that has happened but they know to tell us if it does. Great post. Sharing.

  2. Jill Pond

    Love this post. I teach Safe Kids classes and one of the guidelines to live by is that we teach our Littles that ,”We don’t keep secrets in our family”. This can prevent sexual abuse for a child , as a grooming abuser will “test” a child to see if they’ll keep secrets from their parents…
    It seems like a trivial thing what you talk about, but you are absolutely correct. Thank you!

  3. I loved this post when I first read it and am sharing it again. I had NEVEr even begun to think about the implications of teaching my kids little white lies. A wonderful post. I love Magnolia and her stellar advice.

  4. I hadn’t really thought about it from the abuse angle (but GREAT point) because I’ve been too busy simply not wanting people to give my kids secret “treats”! My son had a milk allergy (that thankfully he outgrew), which meant there was a huge list of foods he wasn’t allowed to eat, just in case. I’ve never understood why people derive so much pleasure from giving kids illicit snacks. Do they enjoy breaking the rules? Undermining my authority? Teaching my kids that “fun” food is a reward (making it that much harder to get them to eat “regular” food)? Do they like getting them all hyped up on sugar and ruining their appetite for dinner? I know I sound like Crabby McCrabberson, but for the love of all that is holy, NO SECRET FOOD! I guess I could have saved myself a lot of typing and just commented with “Word!”

    • Magnolia Ripkin

      I regret the time my husband and I, before kids, when we took our niece and nephew to McD’s even though they told us their mother didn’t allow it. We knew the smell of them would rat us out so we fessed up – now I would never do that.

      I truly believe children can’t understand the difference between innocent secrets and bad ones. When we wanted our kids to keep something quiet, we labelled it as a surprise, so they could be part of something positive, not secretive. Like Dad’s birthday gift or something would be a secret surprise. Now I feel my kids would tell me if somebody was trying to have them hold a secret that shames.

      Thanks for your kind words.

  5. Magnolia Ripkin

    Thanks for all the comments ladies. It feels great to know that I am not the only one that has dealt with this with absolute determination.

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