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Would you tell the parents?

(80 Posts)
nokidshere Sat 26-Sep-20 17:37:46

I've always been a listening ear for people, especially young people who might feel they can't talk to their parents for whatever reason. I've always told them they can tell or ask me anything and I would help them and that I would not tell their parents unless I felt they were in danger, either from themselves or others. Obviously I always encourage them to talk to their parents or, if they wouldn't, put them in touch with a Dr or other agency.

If your teenage son/daughter was feeling anxious and depressed but didn’t feel they could talk to you about it and went to a family friend in confidence instead how would you feel? And what would you think of the friend if they did that? Would you be angry and think they should have told you?

I would be sad if my boys felt they couldn't come to me but really grateful they trusted someone else enough to go to. And that my friend was good enough to help. Telling someone is always better than the alternative isn't it?

OP’s posts: |
BoomBoomsCousin Tue 29-Sep-20 01:37:28

To answer your question, OP, if a friend listened to my DC when they felt they couldn't talk to me I would be grateful in most circumstances. I think it's good for kids to have other trusted adults they can rely on.

That gratitude would switch pretty quickly to anger if they seemed to encourage inappropriate coping mechanisms, discouraged them from talking to me in any way, failed to act on something serious (and not just "danger" which I think is too limited) or lied to me directly if I asked ("You should talk to MiniBoom" would be an acceptable response, "No, everything's fine" would not).

Itsabeautifuldayheyhey Tue 29-Sep-20 01:52:29

I've always told them they can tell or ask me anything and I would help them and that I would not tell their parents unless I felt they were in danger
This sounds as if you are the initiator of keeping things secret. Now, I understand you feel like you are behaving as a confidante but I don't think that is appropriate adult behaviour. Encouraging secrets is, quite frankly, disturbing. You should be encouraging children to talk to their parents or a teacher.

seayork2020 Tue 29-Sep-20 02:04:49


*I've always told them they can tell or ask me anything and I would help them and that I would not tell their parents unless I felt they were in danger*
This sounds as if you are the initiator of keeping things secret. Now, I understand you feel like you are behaving as a confidante but I don't think that is appropriate adult behaviour. Encouraging secrets is, quite frankly, disturbing. You should be encouraging children to talk to their parents or a teacher.

Yes exactly, if a child came to me I would speak with them but what is bold is encouraging and crossing a line

Monty27 Tue 29-Sep-20 03:31:42

OP I would be fucking fuming if someone was encouraging my dc to impart personal information to them.
You sound fucking weird to be honest.
Sorry for sweary post everyone

ExhaustedFlamingo Tue 29-Sep-20 05:06:39

Hmmm. In theory I'd be very happy for my children to have a trusted family friend to talk to - but it sounds like you're open to extending it to more than just very close acquaintances. Your posts suggest that you're actively setting up an environment to encourage any young person to come and confide in you.

There's something just a bit "off" about your comments that I can't quite put my finger on. Almost a misplaced pride perhaps that you can be the confidante instead of parents?

This is the type of behaviour that groomers indulge in. Of course I'm not suggesting that's what you are! - but it's the reason why we need to be very very cautious about blithely accepting adults who set themselves up in this capacity. As a PP said, your slightly aggressive tone with someone who questioned your actions is also concerning.

Any advice you give could have a very profound effect on a young mind and I'm unclear that you hold a psychological qualification which enables you to take on this role. Having a qualification just to work with young people isn't the same thing as taking on a therapeutic role and having great influence.

Quite aside from the potential harm it could do to the youngster if you don't say/advise the right thing, you also need to be very careful for your own sake too. You're opening yourself up to all sorts of potential accusations - and if you've been having unofficial, secret 1:1 meetings with troubled teens you could land yourself in real trouble if they make any unfounded accusations.

Mummyoflittledragon Tue 29-Sep-20 05:08:32

The thing is it really depends on the parents, doesn’t it? I don’t think you should ever promise to keep a secret. If you or they cannot tell the parents and if what is divulged passes a threshold, you should always speak to a trusted adult in authority. This way it is on record. Not doing so could be putting yourself and the child in a vulnerable position.

My dd is 12 and she has recently had various issues with other children. My friend, who is a teacher spoke to her at my request about the issues, made suggestions and said if ever dd didn’t feel she could talk to me, she can always talk to her. She would then help her out, help us both out, talk to me, do what is needed etc. She’s a trusted adult and for me that was fine. I would also do the same for any child. Not that I’m putting myself forward to children in this way. I simply agreed with her and said I’d do the same for her ds or anyone else.

Otoh I had a run in with a parent because I informed them of repeated a conversation in my house between two siblings. The child in question knew I was going to talk to the parent before I did it btw. For me, it was kids stuff and at that stage, an easy fix. I was giving the parent a heads up because it could become toxic if not dealt with. But the parent went off on the deep end that I was getting involved - I wasn’t - I felt uncomfortable hearing the same convo 20 times over and to me it was a matter of respect for them to know what was being said in my home. Their reaction made it all about them and didn’t solve anything. Some parents are very judgmental and I have learnt if you don’t know them well enough, it is always wise to err on the side of caution.

That doesn’t mean keeping secrets though. You are very wrong to promise to keep a secret. Even though your intentions may be good, you are also setting that child up and your children as a possible target for groomers. “Our little secret” springs to mind. How does a child in a heightened emotional state know the difference? The answer is they often don’t.

Mummyoflittledragon Tue 29-Sep-20 05:14:07

Oh to clarify what I said I’d do the same for her ds anyone else. This is what I said to dd - as in explaining to her this is what parents will do rather than offering my services out.

Yankathebear Tue 29-Sep-20 05:15:32

I think your heart is in the right place but be careful.

DarkMutterings Tue 29-Sep-20 05:31:35

*Some parents will be ok with it and some will be furious.*


So if your actual question is would the child's parents be angry with you for not telling them - as opposed to should the child open up to you - then it's impossible to say. Many will say they'd be grateful their child had some one they could trust, others will see it as a betrayal of your adult friendship.

I think the other challenge is how do you judge if something is physical or emotionally damaging. Yes, the child is opening up to you, but only to the extent they want to. You may not know the whole picture and so miss vital signs which the resident parent would be aware of - and which information from your conversation could put a completely different perspective on.

SonEtLumiere Tue 29-Sep-20 05:41:31

I also find it very problematic. It really has the whiff of The Busybody about it.

I think it is one thing for children have other trusted adults, but sticking yourself between children and their parents is ropey as fuck. Certainly it would be friendship ending from my side.

I bet you love finding out those little pieces or tittle tattle.

boredboredboredboredbored Tue 29-Sep-20 06:18:43


Adults shouldn't initiate private or secret chats with children. If you have to ask how to proceed, you haven't understood safeguarding.

You must disclose to their parents because you don't have their parents consent for their kids to talk to you in the first place.

What a load of bollocks!

IseeIsee Tue 29-Sep-20 06:39:11

I wouldn't mind if my child spoke with another trusted adult. If that's what they wished to do. Sometimes another adult can offer some really constructive advise that the parent does not.

I have taught him about grooming so tbh I would be disappointed if he spoke with you. The keeping secrets/I have this wonderful inviting home/I like to completely twist the narrative when questioned are all typicial grooming behaviours and I would like to think he can spot them. I'm not saying you are a groomer but you are exhibiting the behaviours of one so I would thread very carefully.

Deathraystare Tue 29-Sep-20 07:03:15

I have told my boys that my husband and I are always here to talk to if they need us, but if they’d rather speak to a teacher, or their auntie, or some other trusted adult, that’s totally fine. I’d rather they talked to someone than bottled it up.

I agree with this totally. Sometimes whatever relationship they have with parents they may fear disappointment, let alone anger. It is important they speak to someone. Even if the person suggests they then talk it over with their parents.

Witchend Tue 29-Sep-20 07:05:19

Another who is getting very uncomfortable vibes from the OP.

It's one thing a child deciding to tell a trusted adult something that's worrying them. I've had it myself a few times over the years.
It's totally another "always telling them they can talk to me and I won" t tell".
I have raised a safeguarding concern over an adult who was saying similar things to you. I am certain they felt they were being lovely and helpful and how wonderful it was these young people trusted them. It was taken seriously by the safeguarding team.

When I've had something disclosed it's always been in the middle of a normal conversation, and almost always in the car when giving a lift with my dc in the car too. So it isn' t a 121 and I don't ask any questions, just pass it on to the relavent person.

But also you have to realise that what they are telling you is not necessarily the truth. One of mine likes nothing better than a sympathetic adult and if they sympathise the stories get wilder and wilder. It's given me a few interesting conversations over the years. I haven't ever had to deny that her room has been changed to the cupboard under the stairs, but they're that sort of ilk.
The problem is that talking to the sympathetic adult she also talks herself into kind of believing it. So it's actively unhelpful to her mental state. She's very easily influenced at those points, so if the adult makes suggestions they think are helpful, she'll latch onto them and hold onto them for a very long time often as the only possibility that will help.
She does have a couple of my friends who are experienced in counselling that she talks to, and that's fine. I don't need to know and I know that they will give advice that is appropriate. But a random other parent who's encouraged it. No way!

AGoatAteIt Tue 29-Sep-20 07:09:03

My eldest has had counselling and I know she’s told the counsellor things she’s not told me and I accept that.

Either of my kids going to you and telling you stuff would make me very uncomfortable I think because I presumably wouldn’t know you and would have no idea what your credentials were. You say you work with kids yourself but that could mean anything you could be a dinner lady for all I know.

Luckily my children can and do talk to me about literally anything and everything (the counselling mentioned above was to do with domestic violence in the home) so it hopefully wouldn’t be an issue.

PamDenick Tue 29-Sep-20 07:20:04

I can’t understand the set up.
We are limiting the people in our homes. You are always around young people.
You obviously don’t workin a school as you are completely unaware of safeguarding.
Is it some sort of informal youth club where people are seeking you out? If so, you need some CPD in safeguarding.

Footle Tue 29-Sep-20 07:20:17

Creepy af

Isteamagoodham Tue 29-Sep-20 07:25:49

OP, I think your heart is in the right place, but if I could offer some advice from my safeguarding training about a couple of things that stuck out to me...

I work in a school and we are always told the number 1 safeguarding rule is that you never, never promise to keep what a child or young person has told you a secret. Even if it's not something 'major' (for want of a better word). By all means, continue to keep your home an open and safe space, but I think you could land yourself in trouble by offering to keep things secret. Even if it seems like a small thing, what would you do if the discloser's parent asked you about it directly?Say for example, a teen disclosed to you that they'd started smoking. Not great, but not as much immediate danger as abuse. If a parent said to you 'I think Sarah has started smoking. She was round your house, did she say anything to you?' They could get angry if you refused to comment or said, 'I can't tell you, it's secret.'

My other concern is, I am safeguarding trained, but not a safeguarding 'lead'. I'm always told it's my job to listen and log any disclosures. It's not my job to decide whether to pass them on. You are putting yourself in the role of being the person who decides whether to pass them on, and if you're not safeguarding trained, I think you need to be very careful with making these sorts of decisions. I have been through a ton of training and I'm still quite relieved that I don't have to be the person who sometimes makes the tricky decision of whether to 'take disclosures further'.

I think by all means, continue to keep your home a safe space, but might help to review safeguarding protocols by looking at online training/ advice etc, as much for your own protection as anything...

TheSkyFalleth Tue 29-Sep-20 07:36:28

This is entirely subjective on a case by case basis.
How good are the parents, is there any issues at home with them?
How close a family member?
There are people I may be ok with such as grandparents and people I wouldn't be ok with such as uncles. 🤷🏼‍♀️

toomuchtooold Tue 29-Sep-20 07:36:47

I think you should have a think about what there is in your own childhood that makes the idea of rescuing children from their unempathetic parents so attractive to you.

KaptainKaveman Tue 29-Sep-20 08:04:18

You sound a bit full of yourself tbh, OP. What makes you such a "listening ear"?

Lockdownseperation Tue 29-Sep-20 08:06:48

If you have experience working with young people then you should know never to promise not to share information.

Now you are in this situation is tricky. How old are the teenagers? There is a big difference between 13 and 19. I would encourage them to seek help from their GP.

cdtaylornats Tue 29-Sep-20 08:09:48

I told my goddaughter when she was 12 that I would always be her advocate, if she wanted me to tell her parents something or not I would never betray her trust.

Over the years it has given her an important person she can complain too, cry too and from time to time has given me sleepless nights and worried me sick.

It has cost a fortune. Late night taxi rides costing £100+ to go to her when she needed someone.

Hours on the phone one night when she wanted a wee chat, nothing to do with her being on her own during a huge thunder storm of course.

I have never betrayed her confidence, sometimes I've needed to prod her father or mother to do something though. It has meant acting surprised when her parents told me something.

Badtasteflump Tue 29-Sep-20 08:17:57

OP if you have qualifications in Counselling, as you have implied, then you should have been taught the very clear rules about confidentiality and when to breach it.

Purpledaisychain Tue 29-Sep-20 08:22:12

You can't make promises to keep quiet. You have to make kids aware that you have to tell someone if you are even the slightest bit concerned.

Have you ever had safeguarding training?

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