Out & proud with the SecretStroller.
Secrets are complicated.
As with much of life they never felt complicated until I went from single, to married, to mamahood.
Some were fun (don’t tell Mom, but for her birthday I got her…).
Some were not so (don’t tell Mom and Dad, but I didn’t get that job….).
Some were to spare people’s feelings (don’t tell Sarah you heard he didn’t like her…)
Whatever kind of secret it was—the secret was all mine.
Until marriage and child plopped in the mix.
Suddenly things I’d have identified as “secret” turned into “information” (outside of the gifts, but I’ve always been bad at keeping secrets about gifts).
These “secrets” now involved others and felt as though they required I bring other people into the proverbial loop.
I figured this was fine. I assumed this was marriage. I decided this was sharing your life with another.
Over time I learned this new lack of
filter secret-keeping was a gift.
Ala this quote:
By not holding back from others I DID feel increased connection to all the people in my life.
I didn’t consider secrets again until the the Child started kindergarten.
I remember remarking to a friend:
It’s going to be different. I wont know every single thing she’s done during the day.
My friend informed me this would be great (waitforit) for the Child.
She shared her belief in the fact the “right” secrets, starting as young as six, empower children and help them grow independent in a healthy fashion.
First day of kinder and secrets?
She was right.
In ways I couldn’t have imagined holding those benign, kinder-secrets helped her begin to sprout wings.
Flash forward and secrets have reared their heads again.
Yet I’ve done a 360 and am back to where I previously stood with regards to keeping them:
Secrets isolate. Secrets weigh on us. We are only as sick as our secrets.
the Child & I have a BUBBLE for our secrets.
My daughter is entering the age where she’ll have the opportunity to keep big, ugly secrets from me.
I plan to do all I can to let her know I’m here to hold them with her when she’s ready.
I’m waiting inside the bubble–no judgement, no punishment–should she ask to come inside and share.
Research shows tweens who keep secrets are depressed, lonely and less confident.
Informal Carla research shows those whose default reaction is SECRET!!SECRET!! are a baffling, curious thing (to Carla).
Back when the Doodle was a pre-vaccination puppy we chose to protect him from sickness (yet still be able to take him out in the world) by purchasing a dog stroller.
I shared this and immediately received this response:
If you get a cart for your dog please keep it a secret. Who does that??!!
This reaction sparked two things:
First, it triggered my return to Nothing I’m OK & comfortable with will ever be hidden away as secret.
Parvovirus be damned we were bringing Charming out in the world!
Next and more importantly it crystallized this for me:
Sharing secrets helps build real relationships.
Sharing about silly dog strollers, about life altering opportunities and everything in between.
Sharing secrets—en mass and in private—creates trust and and forges bonds.
I told you secrets are complicated.
At least they are here.
In my head.
- Do you believe we are only as sick (or lonely) as our secrets?
- Have you seen secrets work in connecting, empowering ways?
Angela @ Happy Fit Mama saysMarch 7, 2016 at 4:35 am
I had the same reaction when my kids went to kindergarten. I need to implement the bubble of safety because I know there’s going to be secrets. Some that I’m not sure I want to know but I know I need to know.
Allie saysMarch 7, 2016 at 4:49 am
The more people share their secrets, large and small, the more connected we become! I used to be a total secret keeper until I learned the power of telling them.
I also love the “bubble” idea and will absolutely be offering it up to the boys when they are old enough to understand!
Lisa saysMarch 7, 2016 at 12:32 pm
I agree. I know I’ve gotten closer to someone I want to become a friend and not an acquaintance when we begin to share secrets.
cheryl saysMarch 7, 2016 at 5:10 am
My 29 year old now shares things with me that I really should not have known were happening when she was 16-17-18. I never read her diary (like my mom did) and I allowed her to “lie” to me. I just continued to tell her I loved her and that was enough to keep making her come back to me in one piece without too much damage done…. don’t pry.
And there are some things I did as a young adult I will take to my grave. I guess you can call those “secrets”- there’s no point in telling anyone at this stage of the game.
Bea saysMarch 7, 2016 at 5:10 am
What is the bubble thing for secrets?
I have twin girls and I think we need that LOL
Alana saysMarch 7, 2016 at 5:16 am
My son is in his mid 20’s, and I am starting to find out what he chooses to tell me about his teenagerhood and young adulthood. I hope he feels safe in telling me. I think it is a normal thing for teens to keep secrets. I wonder what else I will end up learning eventually. In turn, there are things my husband has not told his mother, and never will. Not anything horrible, but things she has a totally different point of view from the way my baby boomer generation feels.
Susie @ SuzLyfe saysMarch 7, 2016 at 5:30 am
Thus why I am an open book 😀 I ‘ve got enough problems with my body as it is, I need my mind to be as healthy as it can be!
Lisa saysMarch 7, 2016 at 12:33 pm
No secrets = healthy mind.
Coco saysMarch 7, 2016 at 5:55 am
I think one reason we make such strong connections through blogging is that we share so much of what we’re struggling with. For kids, I think the bubble is a great idea.
lindsay Cotter saysMarch 7, 2016 at 4:07 pm
i so agree. i think that we can be secret free and supportive through blogging. If we are open to it. That’s a whole new area though, right? Carla, i love your wisdom as a mother. You really allow your heart to be a vessel of love and comfort for your daughter!
Marcia saysMarch 7, 2016 at 6:00 am
I love the bubble idea. If kids know there’s a “safe zone” they’ll share and that open line of communication we all want will be there. Love it!
Susan Bonifant saysMarch 7, 2016 at 6:01 am
I have often believed that kids hold onto things to figure them out first before inviting others “in,” if we’re talking about general growing-up stuff. But as others have pointed out, when there is a foundation of trust, we give our kids the choice to let go of the things that hurt inside.
And, is there anything better than letting go of something in front of a safe listener and feeling the weight of it disappear?
MCM Mama Runs saysMarch 7, 2016 at 6:08 am
I’m not a fan of secrets and tell my husband most everything. He’s not one to share (or generally care much about the secret), so it makes me feel less of a burden.
Both of my boys are pretty closed mouth in general, so I have to work hard to keep them talking to me. The drive home from school chat and the bedtime lights are out chat work well for that.
Sagan saysMarch 7, 2016 at 6:33 am
I agree that they can have the power to connect!
And I have a “bubble” for friends & family — although I refer to it as the “safe space.”
I think there’s value in asking ourselves why something is a “secret,” and what that means for us in that moment…
Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home saysMarch 7, 2016 at 6:35 am
Wait for the teenage years. Then you know NOTHING. I know you have to let this happen. It’s really hard to let go. My oldest son used to tell me everything. Now he barely talks to me. I hear this passes. I hope so.
cheryl saysMarch 7, 2016 at 7:15 pm
It will…..my daughter (29) LOVES to share everything with me now…don’t know if it’s an age or gender thing…it’s hard to NOT ask, but that’s when they open up…
Cathy Chester saysMarch 7, 2016 at 6:59 am
When you have a son and he’s 23 hearing about his day is like pulling teeth! I’m blessed that he tells me what’s important to him and if he has a problem he comes to me. But once I put him on the kindergarten bus the world changed forever! Sigh.
Annmarie saysMarch 7, 2016 at 6:59 am
I definitely believe that keeping secrets can destroy a relationship- but sharing isn’t always easy!
jennifer saysMarch 7, 2016 at 7:09 am
Generally I would say yes, we are only as sick as our secrets . . but well, someone can share a secret but still be sick if it’s not revealed with healing / restorative intentions . . . saying this is someone who has seen others “share” secrets to hurt, shock and generally just be insolent . . .
Haralee saysMarch 7, 2016 at 7:40 am
This is an interesting topic Carla! Some secrets are set in the culture of a family and often not good. For example,the family hiding the fact that a parent or child is an addict and that impact on the other members of the family. That is different than just not saying who you sat next to in lunch or why your feelings got hurt!
Cate saysMarch 7, 2016 at 9:14 am
Really interesting line about secrets being the culture of the family. I need to think about that. I do not want that culture here.
Leanne saysMarch 7, 2016 at 7:56 am
secrets are a tough one – I tend to tell my hub most things because I know he will keep his mouth closed. Secrets between husbands and wives cause pain in the end. Anything you keep secret that you know is wrong is going to come back and bite you at some stage. That being said, I’m getting more careful with who I share my deeper thoughts with because some people can’t be trusted.
Paula kiger saysMarch 7, 2016 at 8:02 am
Great post. It has me thinking.
Dr. J saysMarch 7, 2016 at 8:21 am
I think there are things we do not tell others especially if it would bother them, and they have no relevance other than our own selfishness in unburdening ourselves in telling them.
Hold on Carla, the ride is just about to begin!
Sharon Greenthal saysMarch 7, 2016 at 8:58 am
A big component in children sharing with parents is how honest parents are with the children. My teens (now adults) were pretty honest with me because I never pretended I had ever been “perfect” when I was a teen.
There are some things I really don’t want to know, anyway!
Rena McDaniel saysMarch 7, 2016 at 8:58 am
I guess I would have to say it depends on the secret. There are different types of secrets kind of like vegetables. Some are benign like say squash or green beans, some are fun and a little dangerous for the digestion like onions or green peppers, and some are more dangerous like (insert whatever vegetable you don’t like). Should have picked a better analogy I suppose, but I’m sure you get the picture!
Cate saysMarch 7, 2016 at 9:14 am
Secrets ruined my marriage (that’s all I have to say about that:)).
I, too, am curious for more information on this bubble concept!
I’m parenting three teens and it can be rough at times.
Ellen Dolgen saysMarch 7, 2016 at 10:09 am
My family had so many secrets. I hated it. So, I did not repeat this. I am an open book – no secrets. I was always honest with my kids and wanted them to be honest with me. That being said, I can keep someone else’s secret if they ask me to. The truth is, that there really are no secrets in life. Usually, all of them get told by someone over the years. So, it is best to just be honest and open from the get go!
Nancy Fox saysMarch 7, 2016 at 10:48 am
Such a though provoking post, Carla. Although I’m very good at keeping my friends secrets, I always feel better and less stressed when I share my secret with at least one person, I trust.
Karen @BakingInATornado saysMarch 7, 2016 at 11:18 am
I think the ability to decide which secrets to share and which to keep is a hallmark of maturity.
I have college aged boys and when they share secrets with me it truly makes me feel special. They’ve chosen me to share with and it definitely tightens our bond.
Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious saysMarch 7, 2016 at 12:17 pm
Since I have been single my entire life, I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be married and have a child how much of what’s inside of me I would have to let go of and allow others to share with me. I do think secrets are toxic, but I also think there is something said for keeping certain things just for you.
Ellen @ My Uncommon Everyday saysMarch 7, 2016 at 12:37 pm
Sharing secrets definitely helps strengthen relationships, if you ask me. I can and do tell my mom anything, and I *think* she can tell me anything. I never ask her to keep something from my dad, though, because I also think secrets can be destructive. I just know that I always feel better when I share my “secrets” with her/them.
green diva meg saysMarch 7, 2016 at 1:09 pm
great insights. thank you!
Debby Carroll saysMarch 7, 2016 at 1:09 pm
My mother-in-law embraced “white lies” in raising her kids which were secrets designed, supposedly, so people didn’t get their feelings hurt. But over time those morphed into too many lies between her adult children and the whole family fell apart amidst the plotting. I tried with my daughters to have a full honesty policy. It’s a tough call but a great post!
Erin @ Erin's Inside Job saysMarch 7, 2016 at 1:26 pm
Growing up, I never learned how to communicate my emotions and ask for help. Because of that, I was unable to form bonds with family members and even some of my friends. When I started going deeper into my addiction, I had no idea how to reach out and ask for help when it started getting out of hand. A lot of the reason I started using was because I didn’t know how to deal with the emotions I was having. Eventually I had two completely separate lives until it all exploded in my face. I say you are DEFINITELY as sick as your secrets and that they always die in the light.
Jody - Fit at 58 saysMarch 7, 2016 at 2:20 pm
Research shows tweens who keep secrets are depressed, lonely and less confident. YES in my experience.
I read Dr. J’s comment along with others….
Having no kids of my own & they did not live with us, I can’t talk to that.
In general, I think it is all a situation by situation thing but I know my own secrets have certainly not helped me at all.
The whole subject is much tougher than it appears. 🙂
Erica saysMarch 7, 2016 at 2:59 pm
I couldn’t agree more…the only way to establish true intimacy with someone else is to put it all out there, that’s is how we connect with each other. I am like you, I put it all out there, and I have difficulty relating to people who keep everything secret. Research has shown that we trust others more when they trust us enough to share something private or intimate.
Maura Sweeney saysMarch 7, 2016 at 3:49 pm
What a compelling post! Secrets are everywhere, but we rarely, if ever, inquire about the toll they take on us as we choose to hide them. As one who has grappled with this issue even recently, I found your post quite timely!
messymimi saysMarch 7, 2016 at 7:46 pm
It all completely depends on the secret and why you are keeping it. Also, you have to be careful with whom you share some things that you do want kept private.
Lana saysMarch 8, 2016 at 12:11 am
One of the hardest parts of parenting – realizing your kids will have a life apart from yours, and there will be things you might not know about them. We’ve tried to make sure our boys know they can trust us and come forward with any “secret”, but who knows? Great post!
Estelle saysMarch 8, 2016 at 1:02 am
I always tell my daughter “no secrets from mommy, ever.” She says that’s ok. But maybe I need to create a bubble for secrets, too. Great suggestions.
Nellie saysMarch 8, 2016 at 4:21 am
Like a PC said, certain things done in youth would only hurt more than “free”. On the other hand I also keep secrets to keep my sanity sometimes because I am an over sharer in most situations…
Carolann saysMarch 8, 2016 at 8:22 am
Funny, I never thought about my kids keeping secrets from me. We’ve always had open lines of communication between us. I love that best about our connections. Even my son tells me everything! My daughter always told me stuff too but I’m sure both my kids have “thing’s” they need to keep to themselves and I respect that for sure.
Catherine @ foodiecology saysMarch 8, 2016 at 10:30 am
Oh, secrets ARE complicated. But they are also necessary and fun. I think we all NEED secrets in our lives.
Secrets are bad – dangerous – only when they involve a negative behavior (drugs, self harm, etc) or relationship or thought.
My child is much too young to understand secrets (uh, he’s 16 months – he can’t hide anything from me!) but one day this will be something I think deeply about.
I hope he and I share silly secrets (and he and his dad, grandparents, friends, etc). I hope he has secret dreams and crushes and other joyful things. I just hope he never keeps secrets out of SHAME.
I’m an awful liar, so it’s also hard for me to keep secrets – but I’ve managed to have my own. I’ve also managed to say “screw it – this makes me happy!” & refuse to hide things. It all boils down to WHY. Why keep something secret and WHOM does it effect and HOW?
Thanks for another thoughtful post, Carla.
emmaclaire saysMarch 8, 2016 at 12:20 pm
We like to think of “secrets” and “private things” separately, discouraging secret-keeping because of the negative connotations. I just remember in school, the secrets kids shared were often at another’s expense. And abusers often tell the child to keep “their secret”, so I wanted that word to be a red flag for them. I know there are lots of things my kids keep private, but they also know they can come to me with the tough and not-so-pretty stuff because I won’t judge them. Sometimes they can over-share just a bit LOL, but I do prefer that to not having them feel safe in their sharing. I have been honest about much of my growing-up years – they still can’t believe their mother actually smoked weed – gasp! But it lead to so much open and good discussion, it was worth it.
Yum Yucky saysMarch 8, 2016 at 3:02 pm
My son is 11 now. Almost 12. I’ve noticed he’s very free and relaxed in talking to me about certain things. But I’ve never yet told him that it’s okay to come to me. That he can feel safe in telling me what’s on his mind with me judging him. I will do this. It’s so important. Love you so much Carla!
Farrah saysMarch 11, 2016 at 8:45 am
I’m a terrible liar, so I’m an open book! The only secrets I keep are the ones that friends/family have asked me to keep secret/private!
Jennie saysMarch 16, 2016 at 6:54 am
This is so important. Love you so much Carla! thanks