An excellent post by ChristyB regarding whether parents should tell their children about traumatic family events, gave me food for thought:


My grounding in reality started around the age of  three and a half or four, when my mother Dot informed me that there was no Santa Claus, it was friends and family who left presents under the Christmas tree.  Armed with this important information I attempted to tell my peers at nursery school, but none of them believed me!

Another event was being part of a family gathering around my grandfather’s bed to say goodbye when I was about eight years old.  Granddad was dying, and I remember each rasping breath he took.  Dot then took me to another room and told me that everybody dies, and that death is part of life.  As a child back in the 1920s she had been led by her own mother to say goodbye to her 5 year old friend who had died of TB.  She had entered her friend’s house to find her laid out in her coffin in her best party dress…

As I grew I was allowed to read newspapers and ask any questions about what I was reading, and they were always answered truthfully.  I was never mollycoddled or shielded from anything, and I’m very thankful for it.  My parents never lied to me, fudged the truth, or deliberately kept me uninformed.  Mum told me the minute she knew my father had life threatening cancer, and that he only had few months to live.  Admittedly I was 18 at the time, but I always knew just as much as she did about his condition.

Compare this to the way my granddaughters are brought up.  They are 13 and 11, and I must never mention the fact to them that I have had cancer.  They look at the scar on my neck and ask why I’ve got it.  I have to lie to them and I hate it.  Also they still do not know that a fire took all their possessions  a few years’ back.  They must have wondered why they woke up in a different house!  The 11 year old still believes in Santa Claus.  She’s going to be very disappointed before too long, and surely must wonder why her parents lied to her about him ?  Dear oh dear oh dear…

Were you shielded from the truth as a child or were you told everything?  I’d be interested to read your comments.