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#1 of 27 Old 11-07-2012, 03:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Does anyone else have a problem with people wanting to have secrets with your young children? My newest issue is MIL telling  my LO that this or that is a secret (usually feeding or giving her something I've said no to) or asking to take LO out and saying she wants to take LO here and there and some secret things. We have a long history of the IL's complaining that I'm overprotective and not fair, etc. I'm sure this is another one that will be labeled under me overreacting but I'm just not okay with this. 

So what do you all think? Maybe when my kids are preteens and can REALLY understand the difference between a silly secret and something bad I will be okay with it but right now it just freaks me and my LO out. And then the issue of not wanting to tell me where you are taking my child. My IL's really act like I'm crazy that I want to be informed on what goes on with MY child. They feel like everyone else they know gets to do whatever they want with their grandkids and have them for sleepovers and take them wherever they want. I know I have some alternative views being AP and all but do most people really let their parents and IL's have free reign over their kids like this? 


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#2 of 27 Old 11-07-2012, 03:23 PM
 
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Child molesters tell kids to keep things secret. (I am not in any way implying your inlaws are creepy!!) Many secrets are not about good things & little kids can't tell the difference between what kinds of secrets are good to keep & which kind need to be told to an adult. For that reason, I tell DS that we don't keep secrets. If anyone tells him a secret it is always, always OK to tell me (even if it's a birthday secret). It's an unfair burden to put on kids to keep secrets, and it sounds like in your case it's about doing things you might not approve of. That would not be even remotely OK with me.

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#3 of 27 Old 11-07-2012, 03:23 PM
 
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um...my toxic grandmother did unbelievable damage to all of her grandchildren, and "secrets" were one of her tools. I think this is bad news. I, personally, have huge triggers about this, and if I ever find that any of my children's grandparents have asked my chidlren to keep a secret (other than maybe "this is what I bought your mommy for Christmas) from me or their dad, they get one warning. If it happens again, I'll terminate contact. No excuses.

 

That doesn't mean you have to take it that far. I have triggers about this. But, I do think that "secrets" are a serious issue.


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#4 of 27 Old 11-07-2012, 04:59 PM
 
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I agree with Crunchy and Storm.  Secrets are not ok.


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#5 of 27 Old 11-08-2012, 06:19 AM
 
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I agree... secrets are not OK.

 

But, I think they just want to have a "special" thing with the grandkids.  

 

Sometimes, I will give my daycare kids a special snack that belongs to my husband or daughter, then I say "Shh..don't tell J we ate her fishy crackers"...then the second she comes home, they tell her, and she acts like she's shocked every time.  My husband too.  But, it's a game really... and the kids think it's funny.  They know it's not really a secret.  I'm wondering if that is what Grandma thinks she's doing?

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#6 of 27 Old 11-08-2012, 06:29 AM
 
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how does your dh feel about this?

 

secrets are a cultural thing, i think.

 

and it all really depends on the relationship. in your case since your relationship is not ok, secrets would not be ok.

 

but i have allowed secrets. i've even encouraged it. but its because my relationship has been built on trust. i dont believe that kids can be confused by secrets. with molesting issues - its not so much they are confused by secrets. its more the threat that makes them keep it a secret. 

 

dd has had secrets since she was what 18 months old. with our neighbor over a disagreement neighbor and i had. i reviewed my stance and decided it wasnt a hill to die on. neighbor really cared about dd. i trusted her. we didnt differ on anything else. 

 

but it was also a winky, open secret. i could clearly see what was going on, but dd loved this special hiding. it was sweet.

 

however i dont have to know everything that dd did with whom she hung out. she's been hanging out (wont say baby sitting because single friends borrowed dd to get their baby fix) since dd was about 18 months old. i dont know the details of all that they do. but i dont need to. that's just my personality. i know they are intelligent people who wont put my dd in harms way. but they'd probably allow dd to do something small that i probably wouldnt allow but i'd be ok with. 

 

dd is 10. she has no warped idea of secrets. neither does she keeps secrets from me. its actually quite sweet that she tells me everything which she didnt even need to. she does delay some info when she is not sure how i'd react. she wouldnt want me to think bad of her friends. 

 

so am i against secrets. no. but in your case, if you are not comfortable, then yes.


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#7 of 27 Old 11-08-2012, 07:34 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ilovemygirl View Post

 I know I have some alternative views being AP and all but do most people really let their parents and IL's have free reign over their kids like this? 

 

I think it depends on the degree of trust the parents feel toward their own parents or in-laws.

 

I hope to be the kind of grandma that my daughters and their partners can feel comfortable letting "have free reign" and spend lots of time with their children. For this reason, I absolutely do not believe in encouraging my (future) grandchildren to keep "secrets" from their parents. And I also wouldn't do things with them or give things to them that my daughters and partners disapproved of.

 

To me, the most important thing is having fun and spending time together, and there are so many different ways of doing this that I absolutely do not see one particular food or activity as "a hill to die on." So many times, I hear the expression "Is this a hill to die on?" being directed at parents who are unhappy with grandparents for disregarding their feelings about acceptable activities, toys, or foods. But to me, as a future grandma, I see this phrase from the opposite perspective, because it is so important to me to nurture good relationships with my children and their spouses and children.

 

Why, in this rich world that is so chock full of wonderful foods and activities for grandparents and grandchildren to enjoy together, would I make any one specific thing that my child didn't want her child exposed to, my "hill to die on?" Why would I be so stupid as to jeopardize our relationship when there are so many other fun things that we could be enjoying together?

 

But then, I'm a pretty open-minded woman who is learning to cultivate a variety of interests due to my desire to meet my kids where they are at, rather than always expecting them to meet me where I am at. So I'm prepared to do that with my grandkids, too.

 

In my opinion, any grandma who is so careless about relationships, and so unwilling to really listen to and respect her children's or children in law's wishes, that she is willing to make little "secret" activities "a hill to die on," is unworthy of having "free reign." She doesn't even care about building a relationship based on trust, so how could she reasonably expect to be trusted?


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#8 of 27 Old 11-08-2012, 08:10 AM
 
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Really not okay. Enlist your dh to help explain why.
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#9 of 27 Old 11-08-2012, 10:19 AM
 
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Mammal Mamma, great post.  Ilovemygirl, maybe you're 'over protective', but that's not relevant. It's not the flip side of grandmother telling your dd to keep secrets from you.

 

"I can tell you think I'm kinda over-protective with dd, haha.. yeah, that's just my style, you know?  You want to be able to take her fun places, it's really easy -check with me first. I'm her mom. And don't give her popsicles and that other stuff, please. I'm much more happy to share her with you when you don't do stuff like that. Haha!" 

 

Awkward, I know. I'm not very funny. It's just that a lot of these confrontations can be finessed with friendly humor, even when you're irritated with them. 

 

(Popsicles are my particular pet peeve. My heretofore exclusively breast-fed dd's first food was a popsicle, from fil, when they were babysitting. irked.gif  )


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#10 of 27 Old 11-08-2012, 10:20 AM
 
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BTW, how old is your dd?


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#11 of 27 Old 11-11-2012, 11:14 PM
 
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I would NOT be ok with that beyond planning a nice surprise for someone or something. 


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#12 of 27 Old 11-15-2012, 11:43 AM
 
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I'm with the above. My parents used to delight in using secrets to try to "split" my affections/use me as a pawn/pit other relatives and teachers and whatnot against one another.

 

Not every child, regardless of age, can understand the difference between a benign secret or a harmful one, and it's coming across as a manipulative tactic given the way the OP explains it - especially since it seems the GP's have ignored momma's wishes in the past about a litany of things related to food and activities.
 

For me, this is past the point of warnings (you refer to a 'long history' - so little respect for you, your spouse, and your household?) Lay it out flat, enlist the help of the hubbster to explain: You haven't heard us, you haven't respected us, you now have no access/no unsupervised access to your grandkids until such a time as WE feel it is appropriate to give you a trial run. No room for them to wiggle, negotiate, or bargain. And if they try, tell them that's exactly the sort of justification that is causing the problem in the first place. There isn't any room for, "Well, okay, BUT..." when it comes to what is best for your child! YOU decide what is best for your child!

(My husband chimed in to say, after reading over my shoulder, "Tell the in-laws to get a dog. They can take it wherever they want and feed it crap all day." LOL!)


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#13 of 27 Old 11-15-2012, 04:05 PM
 
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If the idea of your child having secrets with someone triggers an alert, honor that feeling. It doesn't matter if they really deserve the suspicion. It's better to err on the side of caution.
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#14 of 27 Old 11-15-2012, 06:11 PM
 
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If the idea of your child having secrets with someone triggers an alert, honor that feeling. It doesn't matter if they really deserve the suspicion. It's better to err on the side of caution.

I agree, don't ignore that feeling. I just finished reading the book Protecting the Gift  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0440509009/ref=wms_ohs_product

and the one thing I took away from it was to honor my instinct, it's there to protect my child. If it's a nagging feeling, don't hesitate to act on it. Don't explain it away, or try to rationalize it. Those are not things an an animal does in the wild, it acts. Only humans with their education, try to rationalize instinct, and to their detriment.

Even if it's all done (the secret game) innocently, some day someone else may ask your child to keep it a 'secret', it may be a relative, neighbor or friend with an ulterior motive (FWIW, it is usually one of those people).

Coincidentally,  I am also labeled 'controlling'.Well it  beats careless or defeatist and takes a lot more energy but well worth it to try to protect my child physically and emotionally.

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#15 of 27 Old 11-20-2012, 05:48 PM
 
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I didn't read all the posts, but some of the people I've discussed this with have the mindset that surprises are okay, while secrets don't fly.

A surprise is not telling grandma what you bought for her birthday, whereas secrets can be hurtful or make someone upset.

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#16 of 27 Old 11-20-2012, 06:52 PM
 
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If grandparents are not 100% trustworthy (safe, non-molesters), my kid couldn't go out with them at all. Period. No secrets, no change-of-plans, no nothing. Never out of my sight.

 

If grandparents are safe, trusted folks, then they get 100% freedom. Even if they would make some decisions differently than I do, I trust that they would not harm my child. I am all for fun, secretive, sneaky, get-away-with-it games with Grandma. I think privacy with a trusted adult is a bridge to independence.

 

As a grandmother, I respect my son's and his wife's wishes. If they were vegetarian, I wouldn't "sneak" the kids a hot dog. I might however, buy an ice cream cone before dinner. Don't tell! But they don't micro manage my time with them - they trust me to keep the kids safe. After all, I some how managed to raise my own kids relatively successfully.

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#17 of 27 Old 11-24-2012, 12:05 AM
 
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If grandparents are not 100% trustworthy (safe, non-molesters), my kid couldn't go out with them at all. Period. No secrets, no change-of-plans, no nothing. Never out of my sight.

 

If grandparents are safe, trusted folks, then they get 100% freedom.

 

This is where different people's definitions come into play. Anybody who would encourage my child to keep secrets is, by defintion, someone I can't trust with my child. I don't see it as a bridge to independence at all.


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#18 of 27 Old 11-24-2012, 06:44 AM
 
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If grandparents are safe, trusted folks, then they get 100% freedom. Even if they would make some decisions differently than I do, I trust that they would not harm my child. I am all for fun, secretive, sneaky, get-away-with-it games with Grandma. I think privacy with a trusted adult is a bridge to independence.
Privacy, yes. Child asking grandma to keep a secret, yes (within reason, using good judgement). Grandma asking child to keep secret? No, that's an unfair burden to the child, and would cause me to seriously question the safety of the grandparent involved.
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As a grandmother, I respect my son's and his wife's wishes. If they were vegetarian, I wouldn't "sneak" the kids a hot dog. I might however, buy an ice cream cone before dinner. Don't tell! But they don't micro manage my time with them - they trust me to keep the kids safe. After all, I some how managed to raise my own kids relatively successfully.
See, a reasonable parent will not mind if the kid has ice cream before dinner on a special occasion, and won't micromanage your time. But what is the secrecy around it for?? To me it undermines the parents. It shows poor communication & questionable judgement. It teaches the child that if she's doing something mom won't approve of, she better not tell. What happens when something serious comes up, and this is the attitude the child has internalized? What happens when she's 16 & pregnant? Don't tell! Mom won't be OK with it, Mom can't handle even small breaches of the ice cream rules so she DEFINITELY won't be OK with this... Children need to learn that there are different rules with different adults and their parents can be OK with that. They need to see that they can break certain rules and the parents will still love them, & be glad they told. They need to enjoy their ice cream cone, not be in fear that mom or dad will find out & somehow "punish" them, or with guilt for going against Mom's wishes (because if it wasn't that bad, Grandma wouldn't say, "Don't tell!") Why not just say, "Hey, let's have a special treat, we'll have ice cream before dinner!" and leave out the "Don't tell!" part??? Why not enforce for the kid that she can tell any of the trusted adults in her life ANYTHING she wants or needs to, and they will always be there for her?

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#19 of 27 Old 11-24-2012, 08:18 AM
 
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How old is this child? I agree that surprises are OK, but kids should never be expected to keep secrets from their parents. In fact, I've told mine that if someone tells them to keep somethng a secret, that means it's something they should especially tell me, because it's more important that I know what it is.

I wouldn't be OK with it, and I'm more relaxed and more free-range than most here, I think. I'm OK with grandparents having a bit of freedom for treats here and there that I wouldn't normally allow, because I think the grandparent/grandchild is more important than having purity of diet. Assuming there is nothing toxic in the relationshp. But I wouldn't want the chid to feel like the treats should be keep as secrets from me. Even if you think about the fact that hte child could develp an allergy. "What have you had to eat today?" could be an important question to which you might need an honest answer.
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#20 of 27 Old 11-24-2012, 06:38 PM
 
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Privacy, yes. Child asking grandma to keep a secret, yes (within reason, using good judgement). Grandma asking child to keep secret? No, that's an unfair burden to the child, and would cause me to seriously question the safety of the grandparent involved.
See, a reasonable parent will not mind if the kid has ice cream before dinner on a special occasion, and won't micromanage your time. But what is the secrecy around it for?? To me it undermines the parents. It shows poor communication & questionable judgement. It teaches the child that if she's doing something mom won't approve of, she better not tell. What happens when something serious comes up, and this is the attitude the child has internalized? What happens when she's 16 & pregnant? Don't tell! Mom won't be OK with it, Mom can't handle even small breaches of the ice cream rules so she DEFINITELY won't be OK with this... Children need to learn that there are different rules with different adults and their parents can be OK with that. They need to see that they can break certain rules and the parents will still love them, & be glad they told. They need to enjoy their ice cream cone, not be in fear that mom or dad will find out & somehow "punish" them, or with guilt for going against Mom's wishes (because if it wasn't that bad, Grandma wouldn't say, "Don't tell!") Why not just say, "Hey, let's have a special treat, we'll have ice cream before dinner!" and leave out the "Don't tell!" part??? Why not enforce for the kid that she can tell any of the trusted adults in her life ANYTHING she wants or needs to, and they will always be there for her?

i totally agree with you!

 

very well said.

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#21 of 27 Old 12-03-2012, 05:19 PM
 
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In theory, I agree that the word "secret" can raise a red flag, and I'm normally on board with the "surprises are okay, secrets are not" thinking. But really, I guess it depends on your relationship with the grandparents in question, and your level of trust with them. I trust my mom and my ILs completely, and both have done the, "Don't tell mom you got an extra cookie!" thing, and it hasn't bothered me a bit. For one thing, they've done it right in front of me, within earshot, while looking at me to make sure I heard, so it's obvious that it's a joke. But maybe they've done it when they're alone with my kids too, but it's not at all an authoritative, "You will NOT tell your mother about this extra cookie!" thing, it's a silly, conspiratorial joke, and my kids seem to get that. 

 

Theoretically, I understand crunchy_mommy's point, and agree with a lot of it, but in practice, at least with my kids' grandparents, it just has never raised even the slightest red flag for me to hear them joking around with my kids about stuff like that. 


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#22 of 27 Old 12-04-2012, 07:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the replies. This response from crunchy mommy says it best for what I was trying to get at. I had to set some ground rules ... again! I HATE that they keep making me out to be the bad guy who won't let them have fun with the grandkids but they just won't stop pushing the boundaries of what I feel comfortable with. 

 

 

 

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Privacy, yes. Child asking grandma to keep a secret, yes (within reason, using good judgement). Grandma asking child to keep secret? No, that's an unfair burden to the child, and would cause me to seriously question the safety of the grandparent involved.
See, a reasonable parent will not mind if the kid has ice cream before dinner on a special occasion, and won't micromanage your time. But what is the secrecy around it for?? To me it undermines the parents. It shows poor communication & questionable judgement. It teaches the child that if she's doing something mom won't approve of, she better not tell. What happens when something serious comes up, and this is the attitude the child has internalized? What happens when she's 16 & pregnant? Don't tell! Mom won't be OK with it, Mom can't handle even small breaches of the ice cream rules so she DEFINITELY won't be OK with this... Children need to learn that there are different rules with different adults and their parents can be OK with that. They need to see that they can break certain rules and the parents will still love them, & be glad they told. They need to enjoy their ice cream cone, not be in fear that mom or dad will find out & somehow "punish" them, or with guilt for going against Mom's wishes (because if it wasn't that bad, Grandma wouldn't say, "Don't tell!") Why not just say, "Hey, let's have a special treat, we'll have ice cream before dinner!" and leave out the "Don't tell!" part??? Why not enforce for the kid that she can tell any of the trusted adults in her life ANYTHING she wants or needs to, and they will always be there for her?

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#23 of 27 Old 12-04-2012, 09:22 AM
 
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What a shame you're still dealing with this. Is it possible to be (politely) blunt with your mil? Can you communicate those same points to her?  She has to know that earning your trust must come first. For the sake of making a concrete point, you might inform (warn) her that she's on notice.

 

She sounds childish. Does she hide or lie about other things? Hopefully she won't value 'getting her way' or getting away with it, over her grand daughter.

 

And where is your dh in this? Is he going to object if you insist his mom behave? Is he on the same page with you, so he can tell her the same thing? 


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#24 of 27 Old 12-26-2012, 07:39 PM
 
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Thanks for all the replies. This response from crunchy mommy says it best for what I was trying to get at. I had to set some ground rules ... again! I HATE that they keep making me out to be the bad guy who won't let them have fun with the grandkids but they just won't stop pushing the boundaries of what I feel comfortable with. 

 

 

 

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This is a red flag (among many others that pp have already commented on). They don't care about your silly rules. They don't care what boundaries you've put up. They just want you out of the picture so they can take your kids and do as they please.  If this is what they do right in front of you what are they telling/ doing with your kids when you are not around?  It's undermining your parenting, shoving you aside as if your preferences don't matter, and doing whatever they please. It could all be relatively harmless. Or it could not.  I wouldn't trust them a bit until they can show you that they respect your authority. 

 

I no longer trust the IL's to watch our children.  It was nothing major, just little things. The straw that broke the camels back was when they stayed over at MIL and FIL's house for two nights.  When I went to pick them up, I find out that they stayed one night at MIL and FIL's and one night at SIL and BIL's.  No one ever bothered to tell me, let alone ask.  I wouldn't have minded if they had asked, that wasn't the issue.  It was the fact that they didn't feel I needed to know where my kids were.  I also suspect they didn't think I would agree to it, so they just went ahead and did it anyways. That crap doesn't fly with me.

 

Over Christmas, we were eating dinner and MIL has this annoying habit of making sure everyone has everything they need at dinner. We're all adults, we're capable of finding what we need, and ensuring our children have what they need. MIL asks if DS would like some oyster crackers.  I said "he's fine, no thanks".  FIL takes it upon himself to grab a handful of the crackers and set it on his tray. I promptly picked them back up and tossed them on the floor to the dogs. Again, it's not that the oyster crackers were a big deal, it was the fact that I had said no and they did not respect my authority.

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#25 of 27 Old 12-28-2012, 12:41 PM
 
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I can see silly "Don't tell mom I gave you an extra cookie" secrets being fun for everyone, but giving kids something food or otherwise you've said no to explicitly? That's about their lack of respect for you and would make me furious. It's ok if they think you are being overprotective, it is completely unacceptable for them to ignore your rules for your kids, they are your kids! I'm glad you had a talk with them, but I'd be on high alert for repeat behavior and if they can't respect your wishes, I wouldn't leave kids alone with them. Sorry you are having to deal with this!

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#26 of 27 Old 01-31-2014, 07:22 PM
 
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I must say that I agree with Mamarhu. It is all about whether you truly trust the grandparents or not. If you really trust and believe that they would not go against your wishes and would not cause harm to your child I feel that a secret between grandmother and grandchild would be ok. However, I do understand the posts that are against children keeping secrets from their parents. Unbeknownst to me until later, my mother had been keeping destructive secrets with my daughter that caused a rift between she and I. So I truly understand the fear that parents have of not wanting their children to keep secrets from them. Also, I know that some people want to keep secrets for the wrong reason.

 

Also, I agree that small children may not know what is a ok or bad secret to keep. Again, it all depends on how much you trust the person that keeps your child. If you don't trust them they should not be allowed to keep your child in the first place. As parents we want to know everything that goes on with our children, but realistically that is not going to happen. In addition, at times children have to have other adults that they can talk to about their problems. So if they have a grand parent that you know you can trust let them feel free to talk to them, because they might not always come to you. I know that sucks but it is true. Wouldn't you rather they talk to your trustworthy parent than their friends. Especially, when you know that if it was a serious secret that could cause harm your parent would let you know or encourage the child to go and talk with you about it.

 

Generally, my children tell me most things; however, at times I have found out things that I would not have known if a trustworthy adult had not been in their life that they could secretly confide in. They have came and talked to me about difficult situations after being encouraged by a trustworthy adult to do so. My children are all grown now and I am a grandmother. Last year, my 5 year old grand daughter  broke the spaghetti strap on her new dress and started distressing over it saying that her she was going to be in trouble when her mother found out. I quickly sewed the strap back on and told her to calm down it was our secret. When my daughter came over to get her my grand daughter said "Meme and I have a secret" and my daughter quickly told her you don't keep secrets from me.

 

Recently, my granddaughter was visiting and I passed gas, and I told her that she had better not tell anyone. A few days later, my daughter told me that my grand had told her and I said she wasn't supposed to tell anyone. My daughter quickly replied we don't keep secrets. My point in telling this is that all secrets are not bad, harmful, or malicious. Some are just silly little secrets between grandchild and grandparent. Now my grand is afraid to keep even a silly secret from her mom. I love my grandchild more that life itself I would never harm her, keep anything from my daughter that was important, or go against my daughter to form an alliance between my grandchild and I.  When we really trust a grand parent we have to really trust them!

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#27 of 27 Old 02-01-2014, 03:41 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mamarhu View Post
 

If grandparents are safe, trusted folks, then they get 100% freedom. Even if they would make some decisions differently than I do, I trust that they would not harm my child. I am all for fun, secretive, sneaky, get-away-with-it games with Grandma. I think privacy with a trusted adult is a bridge to independence.

 

These grandparents are specifically asking the child to keep secrets about things they know the parents don't allow. Teaching a child that it's okay to break the rules and then lie about it is a really awful life lesson. Even if, before this, they had 100% trust (something, frankly, that I don't believe in and consider to be dangerous)- that trust would be lost after this.  I can understand why this is an appropriate response if you only read the title, but I really don't understand how you think grandparents explicitly doing things the parents aren't okay with them doing (such as giving a vegetarian child hot dogs, as per your example) and then asking the children to lie about it is acceptable.

 

I also disagree that secrets=privacy. Children making their own judgement calls about what they should or shouldn't tell their parents is a bridge to independence. Telling a child to keep a secret from their parents, unless it's a temporary secret, doesn't teach them independence, it teaches them to distance themselves from their parents. It makes me very uncomfortable and would have made me uncomfortable as a child as well. No adult ever told me to keep a secret from my parents, and that's the way it should be. Some people have listed the silly secrets games, but they describe games where it's not actually meant to be kept secret and that's part of the game.

 

I simply cannot think of anything where it'd be appropriate for a 4 year old to know but not for the parents to know. The only exception is if the parents are abusive. If the child finds out something they shouldn't have known, that makes it complicated, but it doesn't sound like that's what's going on here.


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