5 Things You Shouldn't Tell Your Child
When They Wouldn't Understand
Terrorist attacks and infrastructure failures, for example, are beyond the comprehension of younger kids. You can't protect them from everything, but in this case it's okay to assure them that you will, says Marilyn Heins, M.D., author of ParenTips for Effective, Enjoyable Parenting. Back your claims by showing them that the dangers in the news are thousands of miles away and pose no threat.
When it's Your Hassle, Not Theirs
If you're losing sleep over the mortgage because you've been laid off, keep it to yourself. A parent needs to play the protector role, says Vicki Panaccione, Ph.D., the founder of the Better Parenting Institute. If you're staying home while you look for a job, you won't be able to hide the fact that you're not working, but you should assure them you have the family's finances under control. Tell them everything will be fine, and you may begin to believe it yourself.
When it's Just Between You Adults
In the event of a bedroom break-in, an innocent "daddy was just tickling mommy" will suffice. Avoid this embarrassing moment by setting up boundaries, says Susan Newman, Ph.D., the author of 13 relationship books. "When your bedroom door is closed, teach them that their question will have to wait."
When They Really Stink at Something
Maybe he can't catch a baseball, or her last report card would embarrass the refrigerator door. Those shortcomings should be addressed sensitively, says Richard Gallagher, Ph.D., an assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at New York University. For grades, athletics, and recitals, focus on the effort ("you sang your heart out"), not the result.
When Your Personal History Should Stay Personal
Claiming that you never touched women or alcohol until age 21 will only brand you as a liar. Employ selective truth-telling when you describe your ill-spent youth, says Michael Rapoff, Ph.D., a professor of pediatrics at Kansas University. Use your misdeeds as fodder for life lessons, just the way you did as you grew up.