Will you allow me a

Have you ever had a
secret? Known to just you and nobody else. How did that make you
feel? Proud, naughty, scared, ashamed or nice?

Had you a secret known
only to a bunch of close friends and not shared with any
“outsider”? It must have strengthened the bond of friendship.
Must have given you a sense of belonging, togetherness.

Children as young as 2-3
years start enjoying secrets. They tell you something silly as secret
( that too in a very loud whisper) and then tell it to everyone with
same serious air of secret. It seems very cute at the time. It is a
very important stage of personality development, the child is
developing “ego-boundary,” a sense of “self” and “others”.

Sometimes parents too
recruit their kids in this. “don’t tell this to your father/
mother/ teacher/ brother/ neighbour/ etc.” is a frequent opener of
such conversations. Thus from early age kids learn that it is okay to
hide information from certain person if you can justify it somehow.

And then kids grow up,
their world expands beyond family. So does their sense of identity,
privacy and secrets.

This is a difficult
transition for most parents. Those parents, who see kids as an
extension of themselves, find it almost insulting when kids don’t
share “everything” with them. Their goal to be their kids “best
friend” is seriously thretened when kids start hiding information
from them. Mostly this information is very trivial but if parents get
worried about it and make a meal out of it then it can lead to rapid
escalation of tension.

Many parents take this
as a serious security risk. They believe that as parent they must
know every thing in their child’s life. They even want to know their
kids’ most personal moments and thoughts, going through their
diaries, blogs, chat records, rooms, drilling their friends for
information and what not !

Kids usually react by
being more secretive, aloof and sometimes outright rude. This sets a
vicious cycle of parents becoming more suspicious and panicky and
kids always staying one step ahead. This may ultimately result in a
strained feeling in the relationship. Some kids will go to the extent
of shutting parents out of their lives and getting into trouble for

It is very important
that parents should be vigilant about kids’ activities and they must
do this with a healthy respect for a growing child’s need for privacy
and a sense of autonomy. Having secrets is a part of healthy
personality development. It is an important task of development of
identity. Without a strong sense of identity and a feeling of
uniqueness, children start looking up-to idols and fanatical ideas as
young adults and can not grow out of it.

Respecting your child’s
need for privacy and acknowledging it makes them realize that they
are loved and trusted. They grow to become trustworthy ( with a few
slips and accidents on the way) and independent. Parents’ respect is
the fuel on which children develop their self-esteem, the most
important human quality.

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