How honest and open should we be with our children?

I recently wrote a post about why our children lie, and what we can do to encourage them to be honest.

One of the points I made was that we need to be modelling honest behaviour, if we want our children to be honest too.  It did make me think though, how honest and open should we really be with our children?

How honest and open should we be with our children_ (2)


For me, and my family, the answer is to be really quite honest and open as much as possible.

Which sometimes means having interesting and, sometimes, quite hard conversations with the children.

Last year we had a lot of talks with Rhys about death, after his friend’s dog passed away.  He was really upset about the whole idea of people dying, and asked some quite tricky questions about the subject.

One of his questions was ‘do children die?’.

I hesitated for a second.

I wanted to protect him, to protect his innocence, to keep the harsh truths from him.

But I didn’t.  I told him the truth, that yes, sometimes children die.  Because I want him to trust me.  I couldn’t bear the idea of him hearing on the news that a child had died or worse, for a child he knows to die, and for him to have to process not only the fact that it had happened but also that I had lied to him about the possibility of it happening.

On the other side of things, I’ve also been asked lots of questions about how life begins.  How babies are made, and how they get out of the mummy’s tummy.

And again I was honest in my answers.  

I gave as simple a reply as I could, but it was a truthful one too.

Children are quite accepting of things I think, if you’re just honest with them.  And really, what other option is there when it comes to questions about where babies come from?  Do people really still talk about the stork these days?!

I’m not completely honest with my children though, I’ll admit.

We ‘do’ Father Christmas in our house.  And when the time comes the tooth fairy will be allowed in too.  White lies are sometimes told about the shops being shut or Peppa Pig not being on tv at the moment.

And I have simplified things at times, explaining things in a way that the children will understand and perhaps leaving out some details that they just don’t need to know at ages 6 and 3.

There have also been times when I’ve had to be really honest and admit I don’t know the answers to their questions.  Which I think is a good thing too.  I’m not perfect, I certainly don’t have all the answers.  And I think it’s good for my children to know that, to know that there are some things in life that we just can’t answer with complete certainty.

What do you think?  How honest and open are you with  your children about the big, and the small things, in life?



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