10 Secrets Your Kids Won’t Tell You

Think your kids confide in you about everything? Well, think again, my friends. There’s lots you don’t know and this is only the beginning …

1. We want a reasonable bedtime, and you need to stick to it. We get cranky without enough sleep, but we don’t have the sense to realize it until around the middle school years. We may fight it tooth and nail, but we need your help with this.

2. It makes us feel good to do chores and get praise for a job well-done. We see how hard you work to keep our family going strong, and we want to do our part. Teach us the skills to help out, tell us what needs to be done, and hold us to it. Expect us to do things for ourselves whenever we can. We love to hear you say “good job!”

3. We have exquisite hearing, and are listening when you talk on the phone. Please don’t talk about stuff we shouldn’t know. We hear your side of the conversation, but we don’t understand it. This can be upsetting and make us worry about adult things. Especially if you’re talking about our Dad.

4. We don’t mean it when we beg to do fill-in-the-blank because all the other kids are doing it. Sometimes other kids are doing stuff that’s scary or not right for us. It’s hard to say ‘no’, because they’ll think we’re stupid, so we need you to say it for us. And sometimes we think we want to do it, but that’s because we haven’t really thought it through. We need you to be the grown-up.

5. The internet is our playground. We know way more about it than you, even if you think you’re pretty tech savvy. You know that cyber-bullying stuff? It’s going on way more than you think. So is content that would curl your hair. Since you can’t protect us from it completely, talk to us about it. Ask us what we’re seeing without judging it. Ask what’s the weirdest thing we’ve seen lately. Then ask what we think about it.

6. What you think and say is super important to us. We even quote you to our friends, but NEVER when you might hear us. You might think we’re not listening, or that all we hear is “blah, blah, blah”, or that we think you’re lame and old-fashioned, but it’s not true. You are our touch-stone. Count on it.

7. We’d prefer that you act like a mom, not like our friends. This includes how you talk and how you dress. Please don’t try to use our slang (even though it’s great that you understand it and are connected to what we’re hearing), it just sounds wrong when you do. And there is an age limit on mini-skirts and trendy styles. Best to stay out of the junior department.

8. We really don’t tell you everything. From the earliest age we have some thoughts and feelings that we keep private and don’t share. You’re invited into our world sometimes, but not others. We don’t always want to hear your opinion. The best way in is to ask us questions about our point of view without always giving yours.

9. You’re not 100% responsible for how we turn out. We know how much you love us and care for us, but there are loads of genetic and environmental influences that you can’t control. Do your best to be a great parent, but know that we will make the choices that have most to do with where we go in life.

10. We love you to the moon and back. That unbreakable bond between us is the most important thing in our world. Just like how you love us no matter what we do, we love you the same way. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ or make us mad once in awhile, it will never change that.

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Rachel Zahn, MD is a pediatrician turned health writer who had three kids during medical school and pediatric training—crazy, huh?

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