Kew’s Ububele Educational and Psychotherapy Trust urges families to discuss their shame and secrets


Ububele’s Rose Picas writes:

The feeling of shame vis-à-vis oneself, one’s family or family events is extremely difficult to manage.
It’s a feeling that many of us run away from and avoid.

One way we try to deal with feelings of shame is to keep secrets. It is understandable not to want our pain to be part of a public debate. However, shame sometimes leads to family secrets, such as hiding the identity of a child’s biological parent or not explaining the sudden absence of a family member.

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Sometimes it’s easier not to talk about it. The problem is that children are curious, and whether we talk about it or not, they want to understand the issues that concern them. Without clear communication from the adults in their lives, they have to figure out these difficult things on their own.

They can even fill in the gaps in a story with fantasies much worse than the truth. As parents and caregivers, it is our responsibility to help children come to terms with their reality. It can be painful, but it allows them to have a clear picture of their own life, which they can then come to terms with.

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That doesn’t mean kids need to know about every adult talk and every detail of horrific events or financial stress. Parents need to protect them from unnecessary traumatic information. However, when the information is about their own life story, they need to get enough information to form a story about themselves that is clear and without gaps.

Some parents think it’s best to keep this type of information from a child until they’re older. In most cases, children have an idea that there is a secret, and they worry about what it might be. The younger they are, the better they can use the adults around them to process and accept their reality.

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It also allows the information to be given slowly and in age-appropriate chunks, rather than shocking them with information that changes their view of their life and themselves. Research shows that children who learn they are not being raised by a biological parent at a younger age tend to have better family relationships and better mental health.

It can be very difficult to sit down with a young child and help them deal with loss or trauma. As adults, we have to be brave and face this difficulty. By doing so, we are also showing our child that we can deal with it together. If you relate to this article and need help with the sharing process with your child, please contact Ububele.

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