I’ve got a secret!
Written By Wendy Francis
Illustrated by Joy Weatherall
One of a parent’s most important responsibilities is to teach their child the difference between what is good and what is bad. That can be made more difficult, and can be confusing for children, when something can be both good AND bad depending on the circumstances. This is the case with secrets. We’ve all known the joy of having a secret that we are holding onto until the right time to reveal it – birthday and Christmas presents, a special date, a surprise holiday or party. These are exciting secrets that make life fun and interesting.
Sadly, not all secrets are fun, or bring joy. They can be destructive and life altering. Silence is a tool used by abusers to bully children into keeping the abuse ‘their little secret’, encouraging them not to tell anyone about it, or even threatening that they will get in trouble if they tell. Far too often, these cruel tactics work.
It’s vitally important that we teach our children the difference between a good secret that leads to a happy surprise, and a bad secret that covers up wrong. Secrets that make a child feel uncomfortable, or worried, or sad – these should never be kept to themselves.
As you read this book with your child, my hope is that it will help you to start a bigger conversation. We want them to feel safe to tell us absolutely anything.
- Encourage your child never to keep a secret from you unless it is a fun surprise that is going to be revealed at the right time.
- Tell your child that you want to know about anything that hurts them, or makes them feel uncomfortable. If someone touches them, or looks at their private parts, that must never be a secret. They need to know that they should immediately tell you or a trusted adult.
- If a friend tells them a secret, they should also tell you or a trusted adult, so that you can take the appropriate action.
- Make sure your child knows that it is never their fault if someone does something bad to them, and that they will not be in trouble for telling you. You need to know. You want to know because you love them and will protect them.
Sometimes we assume that our children understand things when they really don’t! Secrets can be confusing for children. Knowing the difference between a good secret and a bad secret can save them from life-affecting trauma. I encourage you to not only read this book to them, but to keep the conversation going. Open and ongoing communication with our children is key.