Keeping a secret

United States
March 11, 2007 6:05pm CST
Recently, it came to the attention of my husband and I that my oldest daughter had been hit by her previous boyfriend. She said it only happened once (She's 17) and she had the good sense to get out of the relationship, although, he had squashed her self esteem to the point that it took her several months to finally free herself from him. He was constantly belittling her, telling her she was fat, and that nobody else could love her the way he did. She has a new boyfriend, that is a complete opposite of this scumbag. H.M.A. treats her with total respect, caters to her every wish and basically makes her feel like a princess. My husband and I love him, and will be proud to one day call him son. Here's the problem....we also found out that her younger sister KNEW that she had been hit, and didn't tell us. What can we as parents do, to inform siblings that those kinds of secrets do not need to be kept? Some advice and discussion please!
11 people like this
19 responses
@judyt00 (3504)
• Canada
11 Mar 07
For starters, you should sit down with both your kids and tell them that no matter what, even if someone makes them promise, they should never keep secrets that may cause someone to be harmed. then tell them that you trust them, and respect their decisions, but you were disapointed that they kept something like this from them, since as their parents, its still your duty to ensure they are safe and loved, no matter if they are 14 or 40. Let them know that no matter what, you will be there for them through thick and thin. as long as they don't lie or keep secrets.
4 people like this
• United States
12 Mar 07
That is great advice! Talking to one or the other would be like trying to divide them but talking to them jointly and with respect is exactly what they need.
2 people like this
@Katlady2 (9920)
• United States
12 Mar 07
I couldn't have put any better than judy or whimsy. I think this is the best advice you could receive as well as give.
• United States
14 May 07
We discussed the fact that a lie by omission is still a lie. I don't think they quite got that concept before now.
@sunita64 (6474)
• India
11 Mar 07
Well as children we never want to tell anything to our parents as they will be hurt and pained because of our pain more than us.So it is very common that siblings share more as compared with parents. You should be proud of your children, they really care for you.
4 people like this
• United States
14 May 07
I remember what it was like as a teenager. I've tried to leave the lines of communication open with my daughters and son where they can come and talk to me when something happens.
@villageanne (8554)
• United States
12 Mar 07
I wont go into the situation but my daughters kept things from us too. Both of them just like yours did. When we found out, we decided That I would take the girls out for "girls day out" I tried to do this once a month. Just me and the girls would go to dinner and window shop or something like that. It was a great way to get them relaxed and talk. IT was at girls day out that I talked to them and told them I loved them and wanted to know what was of importantance in their lives and I would be there to help them no matter what it was. I would not judge them but would help them. It worked and they opened up and talked about it. It took everything inside me to stay calm but I did
3 people like this
• United States
12 Mar 07
Good luck
1 person likes this
• United States
15 May 07
I've been surprisingly calm. My 19 year old son is ready to go on a witch hunt. Even though, this boy is no longer in the picture, and Kristen is happy and engaged to someone else.
@GardenGerty (99389)
• United States
12 Mar 07
It just bears repeating, over and over, that if a friend,( or a sister) is being hurt, a child does not have to keep a secret. to your daughter, other daughters, other sons, to my grandson, to my granddaughters. Often they feel like they have promised and it is almost immoral to tell. All of our kids, boys and girls, need to know that they do not have to be hit, that if someone hits you, or otherwise bullies you, you need to tell a trusted adult. It happens in the best of families, it happens in all sorts of places. Kids who are having self esteem issues allow and permit abuse from peers, because they feel powerless, or like they deserve the abuse.I had to have this talk a long time ago, as a substitute bus driver, with a kid from a prominent family, who was allowing herself to be bullied.Her friend told.I knew the boy's parents. I could be the one who would tell.
• United States
15 May 07
I was appalled when Kristen told her story of how many kids came up to her afterwards and said "That happened to me" or "My sister went through the same thing"
@byfaithonly (10716)
• United States
11 Mar 07
Well, you didn't say how old your younger daughter is so am guessing "teen aged" or there abouts. I would say best to sit all down and explain the importance of reporting abuse of any kind. There is a difference between keeping secrets and covering up abuse. I was raised in an abusive home then turned around and married an abusive man. I have at the appropriate age talked with all of my children about this. Having 3 sons they all know and I trust will never hit a women. I do have a few holes in walls from "angry" sons but they never hit the "lady" involved.
3 people like this
• United States
14 May 07
She is 17.
@liranlgo (5748)
• Israel
12 Mar 07
nothing you will do is going to change the fact there is a secret bond between brothers and sisters i am sure that her sister knows that this is a thing that shouldn't be done but she confranted her sister and her sister asked her to keep this between the two of them i am sure that if this has continued the young sister would have told you but first she honored her sister and probably waited to see if she finds a solution to this thing..and she did you do not have nothing to worry about
2 people like this
• United States
12 Mar 07
Thats a hard one, two sisters have a bond and if one did tell you, that might have broken the bond between them, but I do understand that something like should not be kept quiet
2 people like this
• United States
15 May 07
at times, I think they're going to kill each other. Then something happens to one of them and the other two immediately jump to their defense.
• United States
12 Mar 07
First of all, it says a lot for you and your husband that your daughter had the presence of mind and the courage to end the relationship with the abusive boyfriend. I'm also glad she's found someone who treats her so well. Regarding the secret kept by your daughter, I'm on the fence. I do think that you should have been told but by the daughter going through the abuse, not the other. The reason I say that is that it takes integrity to keep a promise. Now, if your older daughter had not gotten out of the relationship, I think the younger daughter should have said something to you or the police or a school counselor so your older daughter could get help. I think you've done a great job raising these girls for them to both have the courage, integrity and character they have. I think that the woman below who suggested the "girls' day out" is right about taking the girls out and hopefully causing them to feel comfortable enough to open up and allow you the chance to share how you feel about the whole situation. I would encourage them to stand by each other the way that they have but to let them know that they can always come to you. I'm not sure how old the younger girl is but since the other is 17, she's almost an adult and you aren't going to always be there. If the girls can't trust each other to keep a secret, they will look elsewhere to someone who will. Wouldn't you rather they keep each other's secrets knowing that they care so much for each other than seek out someone who might not only betray them but put them in danger possibly? I guess what I'm saying is that you've done a good job raising them to have sense, character and integrity so trust that they will do the right thing or come to you if it's necessary. If you put it to them that way, I think you will not only retain their trust and possibly open up a door to more conversation but will also show how much you respect them for who they are as individuals. I thank God that I'm able to confide in my sister and know that she doesn't go tell my parents things. We are both in our 40's and that relationship has taken us years to attain. We weren't that close when we were young because I am 5 years older and I was more like a parent than a sister then. I treasure what I have with her now so encourage your daughters to maintain their trust. If your younger daughter had broken that promise, it might have done irreparable harm to their relationship. When someone is abused, their ability to trust is tentative at best. Your older daughter needed your other daughter to confide in and to keep that confidence. Obviously, she is able to make wise decisions for herself and I think you can trust her to do so in the future. Give the girls a chance to be who you've raised them to be.
2 people like this
• United States
15 May 07
You are blessed to have a sister who loves you that much.
• United States
12 Mar 07
I think you just need to let the know that even though at a certain time one sibling may tell another they don't want their parents to know something, the child may be relieved if s parent finds out and they aren't the ones that had to tell them. I hope that makes sense. I can clear it up if it doesn't. And if I ever knew a guy hit any of my sisters I would def. tell my parents because I know it would be good for my sister if they got help right away.
• United States
15 May 07
that is true. I told Lauren that we couldn't protect them if we didn't know there was something that needed to be protected.
@Shaun72 (15968)
• Palatka, Florida
15 Mar 07
some secert are hard to come out and tell like me I was molested buy a older cousin. I never told anyone because he told never to tell anyone. The only way my parents knew was bu reading a diary I had wrote.This happened years ago so some secerts are hard to tell
• United States
15 May 07
I'm so sorry. My younger brother was abused by his cub scout leader when he was in the 4th grade. He is in counseling now. He had pushed it way down. We had tried to get him help about 20 years ago, and he refused to go. He said he could "handle" it.
@Shaun72 (15968)
• Palatka, Florida
15 May 07
I am glad he is getting help. I finally decided to in my early 20's. I was getting really depressed and blaming myself because of it. I am glad your brother is going to get help because of it. I tryed to say the same thing no big deal untill I got older and became depressed in dealing with it.
• United States
12 Mar 07
We tell our children as a family we all need to be close enough to be able to tell someone when something goes wrong. Sometimes children can tell things to the other siblings before telling the parents. We have a close enough bond with our children that one out of the four will usually tell things concerning the others. We try to express the importance of our bond with them to help us help them stay safe. So far it's worked. Just try to explain it won't get them in trouble for telling things on the others if it concerns their safety. Parents have a hard job of protecting their children if they don't have the information.We all need to work with our children in order to be good parents for protection.
1 person likes this
• United States
15 May 07
That's what we always have tried to do. Somehow, we just didn't see the signs in this one.
• United States
16 May 07
I believe you guys are great parents just for the concern of protecting your children. Keep up the good work. By the way, we don't always see the signs just because we believe as a family it could never happen to us. I, myself, have been not able to read some signs. At least you guys caught it in time. Great parenting!!!!!!!
@wawaww (69)
• Indonesia
12 Mar 07
Who do children 'tell' about their troubles, including their experiences of maltreatment? Who listens to them? What stops them telling? How well are they being served by the formal systems set up to protect them?
1 person likes this
• United States
15 May 07
I think the secret is what we've discovered with our teens...just ask them every day what's been going on.
@quatelmon (955)
• United States
12 Mar 07
Well, you can not really expect them to tell. She would've told you if she wanted to. It's hard, and you want to protect your children, but they will only tell you when they are ready to and when they want to. You have obviously raised your children correctly, because she had the sense to get out of the relationship, so I would not worry. I'm sorry this had to happen to your daughter.
1 person likes this
• United States
15 May 07
I hope that I can instill in my children the understanding that they can come to me about anything.
• United States
12 Mar 07
Have a talk with your kids that certain secrets shouldnt be kept. That should help. If a little kid is sworren to secrets then they wont tell. Then again I think some will depending on the kid too I guess.
1 person likes this
• United States
15 May 07
I never asked my kids to keep secrets until they were old enough to know why we were keeping a secret. I know a mother who is my age, and her kids are into all kinds of crap, and she has her head buried in the sand.
• United States
12 Mar 07
I forgot to mention how wonderful I think it is that your daughter dumped that jerk. I feel soo bad for those women that don't think they have the strength to get out of an abusive relationship. I also would like to congradulate her on finding a good guy. I can't wait til I find one! lol
1 person likes this
• United States
15 May 07
oh I'm ecstatic that she got rid of him. I told him that despite him feeling like James (my son) wanted him around, he was no longer welcome at my house.
@sizzle3000 (3040)
• United States
12 Mar 07
I have heard many stories of teen abuse and had a friend that was a victim of it. The sad thing is that many teens are ashamed to let their parents know that this sort of thing is happening. We tell our kids when we think that they're old enough to understand that certain secrets can't be kept. These talks don't really prepare them for when a time comes when a friend or sibling asks them to keep this secret. All a parent can really do is tell them that you can't keep this secret and abuse of any kind doesn't need to be tolerated.
• United States
15 May 07
It's amazing that these boys can sit with a set of parents, or teachers or even bosses, and they have no idea that he has those tendancies.
@kavi112 (232)
• India
12 Mar 07
thats normal.. and childish behaviour.. they dont tell the bigs anything...may her sister might have asked her not to say to anyone.. there is nothing much you can do.. but if you are really concerned..try to spend more time wtih them..dont talk to them like parents talk as if you are their friends.. you can expect some changes
1 person likes this
• United States
15 May 07
I disagree some what with this. I want them to come and talk to me, but I also want them to remember that I am the parent.
• United States
12 Mar 07
being parents and to tackle down children's problems is a great deal ofcourse. but more than their father and mother , move with them more as friends, so that they will feel to open up more with you. and anytime you van sit down and slowly discuss the topics and come to those... its all a matter of open talks..
1 person likes this
• United States
15 May 07
I work at my daughter's school. I had hoped that as close as we seemed to be, that she would feel comfortable talking to me.
@cherhec (11)
• United States
12 Mar 07
the younger sister probably thought that by keeping it from you she was helping her sister, maybe have a talk w/your girls and let them know that when things like that happen that it's not their fault or that they won't get in trouble for telling you about it. on your part ,maybe give them advice instead of telling them what to door give them some info about d.v.
1 person likes this
• United States
15 May 07
We talked to every girl in our high school about it. I didn't mention names, but most of them knew what had happened.
@lingli_78 (12845)
• Australia
12 Mar 07
your daughter might be scared to tell you about this thing and she doesn't want to bother you and cause you pain... the same goes with her younger sister... so what you can do that to reassure both of them that they can trust and confide in you and you will try your best to protect them at whatever the cost is... let them know that it is your duty as a parent to protect them and build a relationship with them by having an open discussion with them... good luck...
1 person likes this
• United States
15 May 07
I agree with you wholeheartedly. As a parent, I want to protect them from everything. And to feel like I failed as a parent and didn't recognize what she was going through just kills my heart.