One of the things that has greatly shifted in the past decade is the amount children know about their family’s lives at home. I believe that this phenomenon exists more today than ever before because of an increased use of cell phones. Today, whether in the car, running an errand, or even at the playground, many people are talking on their cell phones. In some instances, parents are discussing private matters on the phone when the children are present. Though the parents don’t realize it, the children are listening to what they are saying and picking up a lot of the information. That’s not necessarily a good thing.
There are two dangers in having loose lips in front of your children. The first, is that they may not understand what they have heard. If they hear that you are upset, they won't understand why you are sad, and may believe they did something wrong.
The second consequence is that your child is sure to pass on what she heard, or worse yet, what she thinks she heard. When she shares that information with her teachers and friends, information will spread that you probably would prefer kept private.
In the five year old class, Katie was drawing a family portrait. Her teacher noticed that the people in the picture looked angry.
“What’s going on in your picture?” Katie’s teacher asked her.
"It’s Mommy and Daddy,” she replied. “They are yelling at each other. They are very angry.”
“Well,” her teacher said. “Sometimes Mommies and Daddies get upset with each other but they usually make up.”
“No, Mommy’s mad at Daddy because he’s smoking the pot again,” Katie explained matter-of-factly.
The teacher was obviously dumbfounded. It’s extremely important for parents and teachers to be on the same page, especially when there are issues that are affecting the child. Yet, that was a subject that was very difficult for the teachers to discuss with Katie’s parents. Soon after that incident, Katie’s father went into rehab.
In this example, there is no way that the child can understand what the information means. When she shares that information with her teachers,she is making things uncomfortable for the family.