Get “Real” With Your Kids
Susie Caron © 4/1/16
Are you for real? I mean, are you authentic with your kids. Why is this important? Why do you need to be upfront and honest with them? Let me explain and give you a few tips about getting real with them in age appropriate ways.
First let’s get “real.”
Someone said, “You may as well be you, because everyone else is taken”. That applies to your thoughts, feelings and behaviors even when you are with your kids. Just be yourself! Yes, you are the parent. Yes, you have responsibilities of your own to manage. And all of this, while at the same time, you are responsible to do your very best job of raising your children. But you still need to be really you and honest with your kids for some very good reasons.
What are two main reasons you need to be real, (upfront, honest, authentic, matter of fact) with your kids?
First, when you aren’t being real with them they think something scary is going on and it’s their fault.
That’s because Kids have invisible ‘antenna ’, that come out when they feel like you are keeping something from them.
If you and your spouse aren’t getting along, they feel it.
If something is going on in the extended family that you don’t want to talk about they feel it.
If you don’t really like your kids, (even though you love them) they feel it.
However, they don’t interpret these ‘feelings’ correctly.
Nope! This ‘feeling’ settles in the pit of kid’s tummies and they translate that to mean these:
Right now you may be wondering, “Well, what they think is certainly better that the awful thing I’m keeping from them. Isn’t it my job to decide what and when to tell them?” Of course it is, and those are very important parenting decision. However, you can still find ways to be ‘real’ and talk with them about something you are ‘carrying’ that will dispel their personal fears.
Here’s an example of something I used that helped our kids.
Whenever my husband and I argued about anything, and raised our voices, the kids flew into wherever we stood. As soon as they appeared, wide eyed, and looking a little worried, I’d turned physically toward them, made eye contact, lowered my voice and said,
“We’re okay and you’re okay. This argument isn’t about you. We are arguing over an adult thing. But you are okay and we are okay. So, you can go back to what you were doing.”
Most of the time, that’s all it took. Sometimes, if they’d just heard a friend’s parents were getting a divorce, I’d add this:
“And we are not getting a divorce, so you can go back to what you were doing.”
After I said those words, they’d shrug their shoulders and run off to resume their activities again.
Here’s another example: If my little ones saw me crying, really hard I’d keep crying, but I’d offer a reassuring hug and say,
“I’m crying because I’m having ‘adult sad today’. You’re okay and I’m okay, I just need to feel my feelings right now.” Often I’d get a hug back, and sometimes one child or another might stay for a while with me. However, pretty soon they realized I was ‘doing my thing’ and ‘it wasn’t about them’ and they ‘could just go back to playing.’ Of course, if they were older I’d tell them a bit more.
This bring us to the second very important reason you’ll want to find ways to talk about the difficult things that distract you, and keep you from ‘getting real.’
Here's the second reason to 'get real.'
Kids read your inauthenticity as ‘secret keeping’ and when it happens often enough,they stop trusting you. Then, later they’ll keep things from you.You can imagine how dangerous that could be. So you need to be real with them in age appropriate ways.
Here are some hints for how to do that.
Tell the little ones, something like what I used above: 'that you’re having adult feelings but that they are okay and so on.'
Tell school aged children a bit more, but make sure they know that you are ‘handling’ the situation. In other words that it’s your adult responsibility to take care of things, and that you will tell them more as you know more.
For teens, it’s important to explain in more detail, but again reassure them that the adults are managing. It’s also good to add that you shared this with them because you understand and respect that they’d want to know.
Here's a brief summary of the reasons you want to be upfront and honest with your kids.
You owe it to yourself to be You.
They can tell when you’re faking it anyway.
They can feel when you aren’t being ‘real’ (authentic, open, honest).
They believe it means something scary is going on, and it’s about them and it’s their fault.
They think you’re keeping secrets from them, and they stop trusting you. (In turn, they start keeping things from you.)
Remember, when you are ‘real’, open, honest, and decide how much to tell your kids at each age, they learn to trust you more, and by your example they stay more ‘real’ (honest, open, authentic) with themselves and with you.
Thanks for reading this article. I hope it's helpful. Please let me know .
Remember Twee' means you and me
Getting Real with Kids.
Susie E. Caron MA,
Author, Blogger, Podcaster,
Christian, Wife, & Mother, helps build parent-child relationships, 1 blog, book & podcast at a time.
Welcome! I recently retired from combined careers in teaching, psychotherapy, and parent coaching to spend more time writing.
When I'm not busy creating books or articles, you might find me looking for dark chocolate or riding my beautiful horse Apple in the woods and fields of Vermont.
These articles are for educational and self-help purposes only and are not intended as psychotherapy.
If you experience unusual symptoms or discomfort please see your medical or mental health practitioner.
No patent liability is assumed for use of the information contained. The author disclaims any responsibility for loss or risk for use or application of this material.
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Blog Reviews & Thank You!
July 13 at 7:17pm ·
Just wanted to say that I love your posts about the different ways to connect/relate/understand your child. It has given me a new approach towards understanding my daughter and allowing HER to tell me how she feels instead of me suggesting to her how she should feel. Thanks Susie!