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Growing up with a stern father made us kids fearful of what would happen if he found out we’d participated in some shenanigan or did something we knew he’d get mad about. An oft-heard statement was, “Don’t tell Dad!” We knew either a long lecture or a hard spanking would follow his learning about what we’d done. Both were dreaded and kept us in line most of the time. Why didn’t we just stay out of trouble? It was childhood. You can’t help yourself.

Even after we kids married and left home, I still heard that phrase tossed out from time to time. We’d make some decision (nothing illegal or bad mind you) that we knew Dad wouldn’t approve of and we’d say, “Don’t tell Dad.” While the spankings ended, the long lectures never did. Never have. I still get them occasionally and still don’t like them. I try to avoid them as much as I can.

I know our kids have said ‘Don’t tell the parents’ about some of their escapades. Bits and pieces of potential childhood disasters that turned out okay come up from time to time. I suppose every child has requested a friend to keep quiet about something at one time or another. We all have our little secrets that we don’t want to get back to someone who can punish or humiliate us.

But times have changed. A strange new trend can be heard in Hubby’s and my household. More and more we utter these unsettling words, “Don’t tell the kids.” It’s usually uttered after we’ve done something really dumb or forgotten something we should have remembered. We may find something in a really strange place or forget what we did an hour ago. It scares us, and we don’t want to scare the kids. Instead, we don’t tell them about it. That’s what parents do: keep their kids from stressing over things they don’t need to know yet. Right? We’re just being good parents.

We don’t say the phrase out of fear of a lecture, but out of fear that our kids will think we’re ready for the old folks’ home. We’re not ready for that. At least in our opinion, we’re not. No sense making a big deal over it. Or as Barney Fife said once, “Don’t make a big moulage out of it.” Oops! There I go. Verbally carbon-dating myself. Don’t tell the kids.

Remember now the Creator in the days of your youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when you shalt say, I have no pleasure in them. Ecclesiastes 12:1

3 Responses

  1. Carol, I love your wit and wisdom. You hit the mail on the head.
    As we have gotten older there are a lot of times Gary and I do something dumb. We will tell each other that we can’t tell Melanie or she will jump all over us.
    Every once in a while we confess something and she will say”Mom, you know better. What if you or dad had been hurt?”
    Isn’t it funny how our rolls changed from being parents raising our children to them taking the parent roll as we get old.

  2. Love this! I can relate to the lectures. My dad only spanked me once, and I was told he cried harder than I did. So we always got the “Roger Biesheuvel lecture.” Ugh! I would have rather had the spanking!

  3. Back when we said, don’t tell the parents, it was really in all of our best interests. You trusted us and we trust you, so probably we should just know if it’s need-to-know info, we’ll hear about it. Trust can go both ways 🙂

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