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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: |
stuckinadeeprut Tue 29-Sep-20 16:38:39

My daughter's boyfriend's mum did this when she was a teenager. It was a complete PITA and didn't help at all. As an adult she reflects on it as deeply problematic and that it created an unnecessary barrier to me being able to support her. It was more to do with the woman's need to be validated than what was best for my daughter. If the OP has experience of working with young people she should be much more aware of appropriate boundaries than she's showing here.

MitziK Tue 29-Sep-20 16:30:32

You REALLY need to take some Safeguarding Courses.

There is so much that could go wrong with what you are telling us. I don't think you appreciate quite how wrong they could go.

Thelnebriati Tue 29-Sep-20 12:34:48

I didn't intend to return to this thread but there's one thing I want to say.

People like teachers who have direct contact with your children have safeguarding training, work within a safeguarding framework, and are mandated reporters - if they find out a child is being abused they must report to their safeguarding lead.
They don't keep secrets because that's how abusers and groomers operate, and safe adults don't mimic the behaviour of abusers.
Safe adults model safe behaviour for children.

northstars Tue 29-Sep-20 11:30:01

My question was if you were their parent and found out they'd spoken to me and I'd listened and/or referred them to someone how would you feel about that?

What do you mean by this? Whom do you “refer” these children to, and on what basis? What qualifications do you have? As a former teacher, this makes me very uncomfortable

DarkMutterings Tue 29-Sep-20 10:33:09

I doubt Op is going to come back, I suspect they were expecting a lot more 'you're doing such a great thing' comments.
The thing is a listening adult can be an absolute lifeline - as some posters have alluded to. But the whole way the Op describes deliberately creating a space for this, just sounds off, almost as if they are actively seeking to be a guardian angel of sorts with the validation that comes with that role.
The Op probably doesn't like the way this thread is going but I do hope they take it on board.

Charleyhorses Tue 29-Sep-20 10:24:16

I've been on both sides of this tbh.
Im glad my teens had people they could talk to.
With teens who have confided I have kept that confidence apart from twice. One teen pregnancy (though tbf helped tell parents), the other was an abusive relationship that needed action.
Hasten to add I do not invite this into my life!

SmellsLikeFeet Tue 29-Sep-20 10:14:13

The fact that you work with young people but have to ask is concerning
No its not OK, you should be directing them to a suitable adult not actively encouraging them to open up to you
This post is very worrying

oakleaffy Tue 29-Sep-20 09:58:48

Why on earth would someone let it be known that ''They were a listening ear''....It seems a bit odd.

If a teenager {or any child} mentioned something amiss off their own bat, it is very different.

Responsible thing to do is to tell their parents.

I ran away once after a family row ..and them phoned my best friend {callboxes in those days} She said ''Come round for some food''...

I made her promise not to tell my parents, but her mum said ''I have to let your parents know you are safe''...I was annoyed at the time, glad she did. Very responsible.

Fast forwards many years, my DS went missing { 16 yrs teen} and I was beside myself.

One of DS's friends called round on a flimsy excuse, and he saw I was so upset...I asked him if he knew where DS was..

He said ''I can't answer, but take a walk up {certain street} and you might see him.

Turned out his best mate's parents had basically let him stay there for days without letting me know, which is really irresponsible.

They though, in their turn had one of their teen DC ''go missing'' and they then understood.

Communication is the key, and no secrets!

BreatheAndFocus Tue 29-Sep-20 09:58:24

Teens need someone to talk to yes, but that person needs to be an appropriate adult trained in Safeguarding procedures

This.

OP, perhaps you’re a caring, genuine person, but the way you’re describing this comes across as really quite creepy.

So no, I wouldn’t be happy with any child of mine speaking to you,and I urge you to be very careful if any of the people you’re encouraging to confide in you are minors.

corythatwas Tue 29-Sep-20 09:46:14

I would have been very grateful if one of my children had felt they could tell a trusted adult friend something as a one-off, in a situation where they felt they could not approach me.

I would have been extremely worried about any adult who saw this as part of their persona.

roarfeckingroarr Tue 29-Sep-20 09:26:36

Bit weird, really. Why do you do this? What do you get from it? Are we talking a close relationship with a young family friend or do you seek out teenagers to grow close to?

LadyLoungeALot Tue 29-Sep-20 09:26:32

I think this is a tricky one and depends massively on the issue, and how well you know their parents, too, and how they might react to whatever action you take.
So, if you know the parents very well, and know how they might react, maybe you could suggest being there while they spoke to their parents?

JenniferSantoro Tue 29-Sep-20 09:25:43

Your first paragraph is concerning. You’ve just described how a groomer behaves. Why are you encouraging children/young people to tell you their innermost thoughts.

carcarbinks Tue 29-Sep-20 09:25:20

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.

I don't like the sound of this but as the previous poster says, it might be different if you are talking about adults.

NameChange2PostThis Tue 29-Sep-20 09:16:57

nokidshere

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?

@nokidshere

Do you mean young people (ie adults who are young) or children? When you say teenager, do you mean 19 or 13? I think these differences matter.

If you are offering a listening ear for a confused or troubled 22 year old I think that’s ok. They are navigating early adulthood and extra support is great.

But if you are offering the same to 13/14/15/16/17 year olds YABVVU .
Unless you are in a formal position to do this (eg school counsellor) you have no business pushing yourself into the position of confidante to an unrelated child. You put both the child and yourself at risk.

Your post is a little off - are you trying to find a justification for having crossed a line with a friend’s child? That’s how it reads to me.

You should not be proactively telling young people that they can tell you anything or ask you anything in absolute confidence. Again, context is everything, but your post reads as though you actively encourage young people to tell you secrets. This sounds coercive. If you have real concerns about a young person, you should proactively encourage them to speak to a qualified appropriate adult (teacher, counsellor, doctor)

If you coerced my child into confiding in you, I would be very (IMO justifiably) angry. I would think you have boundary issues. You would no longer be my friend.

To answer your last question. No, telling someone is not always better. Telling someone appropriate is.

Friendsoftheearth Tue 29-Sep-20 09:15:17

I had a family member whom helped me during a particularly difficult time, if I had wanted my parents to know about it, I would have told them myself.

I would respect the confidence of others unless they are in real danger, ie suicide or serious self harm. For anything else, keep quiet, keep listening and encourage them to consider professional help if you feel this would be useful.

My best friends' mother was a lifeline for me, and I will forever be indebted to her. You are doing a great deed, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

persistentwoman Tue 29-Sep-20 09:05:07

Adults who set themselves up as 'listeners' for children need to have very clear boundaries. There's nothing wrong with one of your children's friends chatting to you 'off the cuff' . But advertising that 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 is frankly an odd conversation to initiate with other people's children. Maybe reflect on why you gave such a defensive response to what Thelnebriati said?

It's great that children and young people feel that they can speak to adults other than their parents. But when those adults actively encourage other people's children to speak to them, that rings alarm bells - not necessarily about abuse, more about someone over invested in taking on a role - advertising themselves as alternatives to parents without the necessary qualifications to know how to support them. Just because you work with children and young people (voluntary work? teaching? sports coaching/ brownies / guides?) doesn't mean you're qualified in anything other than casual supportive listening - just like lots of other parents.

bugaboo218 Tue 29-Sep-20 09:01:44

As a parent I would not be happy with this at all. If my teens spoke to someone like you who did this I would report you to their school or mash as a safeguarding concern!

Teens need someone to talk to yes, but that person needs to be an appropriate adult trained in Safeguarding procedures.

Do you have Safeguarding training? Training around consent, disclosures etc?

Very dangerous for both you and any teens, who disclose to you. You are opening up a great big can of worms. At best anger from parents and at worse possible accusations of grooming! Accusations that could have the ability to ruin your career and life.

Stop being a busy body and address why you want to rescue children and encourage them to keep secrets from their parents.

SarahAndQuack Tue 29-Sep-20 08:53:36

Even professionals who are bound by rules of confidentiality NEVER promise unreserved confidentiality.

I would qualify this: especially professionals don't promise that! A lot of unprofessional/unqualified people will, without thinking what hot water it'll get them into. You can usually tell someone professional and experienced because they have a very good idea of the same limitations on confidentiality.

SarahAndQuack Tue 29-Sep-20 08:52:25

Itsabeautifuldayheyhey

*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 this.

SchadenfreudePersonified Tue 29-Sep-20 08:51:20

Even professionals who are bound by rules of confidentiality NEVER promise unreserved confidentiality.

They always warn that if anything is said that leads them to believe that anyone is at risk - whether it is the person talking to them, or any other, then they have a duty of care to inform the relevant authorities.

Perhaps the parents are the problem - encourage this young person to confide in someone more able to help them appropriately.

NettleTea Tue 29-Sep-20 08:45:59

I wouldnt be comfortable with that, based on the promises of confidentiality.
Its Ok to be an alternative viewpoint and a sounding board but, unless the issues are very serious, in which case professional bodies should be informed, you are encouraging a line of secrecy which others have pointed out, is the same as that used by groomers, and its important to teach kids and teens how dangerous that can be, even if your intentions are good.
Its the no 1 in safeguarding.

I had a friend who tried to interfere with my daughters relationship with her father - he had a prohibitive steps order aganist contact, but she felt that she knew better and could be a third party for them to meet in secret (which my daughter didnt want and told me about)

it seriously damaged our relationship

MeridaTheBold Tue 29-Sep-20 08:40:48

An interesting signifier about your intentions is all the 'I' sentences in your OP. This is about what you get out of portraying yourself as the keeper of secrets, the confidant of teens. That selfishness added to your earlier strawman/gaslighting response makes me very concerned about any young people you are involved with.

D4rwin Tue 29-Sep-20 08:39:44

I'd assume you didn't understand the boundaries of adults or teens.

WeAllHaveWings Tue 29-Sep-20 08:36:04

tbh OP it does sound like you seek out and try to save vulnerable adults by playing amateur counselor.

It is fine to chat with young people. It is not ok to tell young adults you are in contact with they can tell you all their secrets and you wont tell.

Although you may think your intentions are altruistic and good you can do harm.

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