Parenting involves making thoughtful decisions about what information to share with children and when. Certain topics might be too complex or inappropriate for children to understand until they are more mature. Here are ten matters that experts suggest not disclosing to kids until they are 18, each accompanied by a rationale based on developmental psychology and parenting expertise.
1. Complex Marital Issues
Reasoning: Discussing complex marital issues with children can be overwhelming and confusing for them. It may lead to unnecessary stress or anxiety, as they might feel caught in the middle or responsible for resolving these issues.
Expert Insight: Child psychologists often advise against involving children in adult relationship problems. Dr. John Gottman, in his research on parenting, suggests that exposing children to marital conflicts can lead to emotional insecurity.
2. Financial Struggles
Rationale: While it’s important to teach children about financial responsibility, discussing serious financial struggles can be burdensome for them. It may lead to unnecessary worry about family stability or their own needs.
Financial Expert Advice: Financial advisors and child psychologists recommend shielding children from the stress of financial hardships. They suggest that parents should discuss money in a way that is age-appropriate and not anxiety-inducing.
3. Detailed Aspects of Sex Life
Explanation: Discussing the intimate details of one’s sex life can be inappropriate and uncomfortable for children. Conversations about sex should be age-appropriate and focus on education and safety.
From Sex Education Specialists: Experts in sex education, like Dr. Laura Berman, advocate for age-appropriate sex education that is focused on biological aspects, consent, and safety rather than the intimate details of personal sexual experiences.
4. Graphic Details of Traumatic Events
Reasoning: Sharing graphic details of traumatic events (such as accidents, crimes, or personal traumas) can be disturbing for children and may lead to anxiety or fear. Discussions about such events should be age-appropriate and provide a sense of safety rather than fear.
Perspective from Trauma Psychologists: Trauma specialists advise against exposing children to graphic details of traumatic events, as it can lead to unnecessary fear and anxiety. They recommend addressing children’s concerns about safety in a reassuring and age-appropriate manner.
5. Use of Alcohol and Drugs
Explanation: Discussing personal use of alcohol and drugs can send mixed messages to children, especially regarding substance use and legality. Conversations about substance use should be focused on education, safety, and legal implications.
From Substance Abuse Counselors: Counselors and psychologists specializing in substance abuse often recommend discussing alcohol and drug use in the context of health and legal consequences, rather than personal anecdotes, to avoid normalizing potentially harmful behavior.
6. Intimate Details of Past Relationships
Rationale: Sharing intimate details about past romantic relationships can be inappropriate and confusing for children. They may not have the emotional maturity to understand the complexities of adult relationships.
Relationship Experts’ View: Relationship experts generally advise keeping discussions about past relationships focused on general life lessons rather than intimate or detailed recollections.
7. Family Secrets or Conflicts
Explanation: Sharing family secrets or details about family conflicts can put an unnecessary burden on children. It may lead to feelings of divided loyalty or confusion about family dynamics.
Family Therapists’ Perspective: Family therapists often suggest that parents should protect children from adult conflicts and unresolved family issues, as involving children can lead to emotional stress and confusion.
8. Negative Opinions About Others
Reasoning: Expressing negative opinions about others, especially about people close to the child (like other family members or friends), can impact the child’s relationships and perceptions of these individuals.
Advice from Developmental Psychologists: Child development experts recommend that parents model respectful behavior and refrain from speaking negatively about others, as children learn social behaviors and judgment from adult figures.
9. Personal Regrets or Failures
Rationale: Discussing personal regrets or failures in detail can burden children with a sense of responsibility to avoid similar mistakes or to compensate for parental shortcomings.
From Life Coaches and Psychologists: Professionals in personal development advise discussing life challenges in a way that focuses on growth and learning, rather than dwelling on regrets or personal failings.
10. Inappropriate Media or Content
Explanation: Exposing children to media or content that is not age-appropriate (such as certain movies, books, or music) can lead to confusion and misinterpretation. Such exposure should be carefully considered based on the child’s age and maturity level.
Media Experts’ Suggestion: Experts in child psychology and media suggest that parents should carefully curate media exposure based on age-appropriateness and developmental readiness, ensuring that it aligns with the child’s ability to understand and process the content.
In conclusion, protecting children from information that is beyond their emotional and cognitive maturity is an important aspect of parenting. While honesty and open communication are valuable, it is equally important to consider the appropriateness of the information being shared and its potential impact on a child’s well-being and development.