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Gremlin's avatar

Should I have told these kids to be honest with their parents?

Asked by Gremlin (198points) 1 week ago

My nieces came over for a few hours today. Five and three. They asked for a popsicle and received one each, because I wasn’t told not to give them any sweets.

Before they ate them, they started talking about how their mom would scold them for eating that popsicle, so they wouldn’t tell her. I suggested to tell their dad instead, and they said that they would do that because their dad wouldn’t mind.

They’re still so young, it feels like having secrets from their mom is not so great. Should I have told them that they need to ask mom first? They did tell dad at pickup, and he was fine with it. They also don’t have a general rule about not eating sweets. They eat cake and popsicles and chocolate when their mom is around. Maybe they were worried because it was close to lunch time, not sure if that would register for young kids. Or some sort of stranger danger thing? I’m no stranger to them, but they don’t often hang out with me without parents, so it might have felt like a weird situation with too much freedom, where they weren’t sure what their parents would allow??

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14 Answers

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

I was in a similar situation. My grandparents had a deal. They agreed to pay for our dental bills in exchange for letting us grand kids access to chocolate.

As for lying I would take that up with the parents.

cheebdragon's avatar

They might’ve meant that she would scold them about making a mess? I’ve never seen a toddler eat a popsicle faster than it can melt, and unfortunately kids have a magical ability to touch everything around them when their hands are sticky.

kritiper's avatar

That sounds like very typical behavior. Kids learn early on how to manipulate adults.
If you want to stay friends with the children, take what they say as information on what to do in the future, but don’t tell the parents or try to instruct the kids on what to say. You want to be their trusted friend, not a rat fink.

cheebdragon's avatar

^Plus, kids are horrible at keeping secrets.

janbb's avatar

I disagree. It’s important that kids learn not to honor other adults telling them to keep secrets from their parents. “This is a secret” that you shouldn’t tell your parents has been used by abusers. I know this situation was very benign and it doesn’t seem you did anything really wrong but I think the main principle should be that they are taught not to keep secrets from their parents about adults behavior. (There will be plenty of secrets that they decide to keep from them as they grow up anyway.)

I hope this doesn’t sound too heavy handed.

stanleybmanly's avatar

That’s a fascinating little lesson on life and politics. The 5 and 3 year olds asked for popsicles, but only on receiving them do they inform you that you’ve been co-opted into a conspiracy of silence. You had no idea that the the request for a popsicle was also a test. Would you react like mom or dad? The girls are working out life’s traps and minefields. I can just imagine sometime in the near future when they ask another adult for a popsicle, receive the treat, then believing they’ve another ally mention mom’s prohibition, only to find the treats snatched from them with a scolding for deceiving and disobeying their mother. THAT will surely be a lesson on the necessity for secrets.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Mom said not to give them sweets but you did. And now you’re trying to hide it with the help of preschoolers.
My kids give me what I consider absurd instructions some times, but I honor them.

For the future, buy popsicle molds at Walmart and use real juice, like orange juice and apple juice, to fill them. Hopefully Mom wouldn’t have a problem with it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Check that. You were NOT told not to give them any sweets. I would have told them they should tell their parents if they thought it was important.

Cupcake's avatar

I’m with @janbb here. Getting kids to keep secrets can be the start in a long and dangerous road of grooming and abuse. No adult should keep secrets with kids and kids should learn not to keep any secret from their parents. Surprises are good and secrets are bad. The difference is that people are usually happy with surprises but in danger or trouble with secrets.

In the future, I would say something along the lines of, “Thank you for telling me that your mom might not like you having popsicles. It is so important to not keep secrets from your parents. I will tell your parents that I gave you popsicles and that you were concerned that she would be upset about it, so that she will know that it was my decision for you to have them. Then I will ask her whether it is OK to have popsicles here in the future, or whether she would prefer you eat a different snack here.”

flutherother's avatar

I would have let the kids eat their popsicles and told the mother when you saw her. She is the parent and she is responsible for her children and I think you have to respect that and let her kids see that you do. It’s not a bad thing for children to see their parents being respected.

stanleybmanly's avatar

This is not as trivial a matter as it appears. Snitching the kids out would be too sucky for me. On the other hand, now that I am aware of mom’s directive, what do I do the next time they ask me for a popsicle? And the thing that I would find a fascinating experiment and sure to set the gears in those little heads a turning would be “I can only give you a popsicle if one of your parents gives me permission”. What do you suppose the outcome will be?

jca2's avatar

I would guess that if the mother or father didn’t tell you not to give them sweets, then it’s ok. Maybe the kids had it in their heads that they weren’t supposed to, because maybe the mother is strict with it on some occasions, but maybe on this occasion she decided it was ok because it was special that they were going to spend some time with their aunt.

Since the mom and dad didn’t specify that the kids can’t have sweets, I’d probably have mentioned it to the dad, the way you did, but otherwise not made a big deal about it to the kids. If the kids want to tell the parents or not tell them, it’s ok because you already told the dad.

Forever_Free's avatar

Sounds like the kids have been put in the middle here.
I think it is the adults responsibility to share this with the parents nd not put any of this on the children.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I think I’ve related this incident here before. When we were kids, my dad worked on the railroad, so there would be days when he was off that he would have us to himself all day. My mom would head off to work with a stern command “DO NOT FILL THESE KIDS WITH SUGAR.” Unfortunately my dad had a pathologically chronic sweet tooth which is one of the reasons we children and all of our friends adored him. Anyway, there was the day my mom left for work after barking out the orders. At lunchtime, dad marched us all 3 blocks to the cafe where we had hamburgers for lunch. But instead of the customary ice cream cone from the drugstore, we were marched (confused) into Peterson’s bakery. With our input, dad selected this beautiful 3 layered coconut frosted cake. We walked home with it in a box which he placed on the kitchen table, which was not the sort of discipline to which we were accustomed. Ordinarily any sweets would be devoured enroute. I now realize that this assured no telltale evidence lingering in the house or yard. A couple of hours later we were summoned to the kitchen, the cake was removed from the box and half a gallon of milk placed on the table. And the 5 of us devoured that entire cake down to the last crumb. We combined to wash, dry and restore the dishes to their cabinets and left that kitchen as pristine as it had ever been. Dad then addressed the greedy assembly to the effect “you know, we shouldn’t worry your mother about this. It might really upset her.” Now this little speech was quite unnecessary for me and my sisters. We were born criminals. All eyes fell on my little brother, without question the reliably weak link in the chain of conspiracy. We all tried to impress on him the solemn necessity for secrecy and it appeared the lecture took. We kids then set loose on the neighborhood to hang with our friends. As was usual on dad’s day off, around 6 we made our way home to find dad had the cooking for dinner well underway with mom sitting at the table puffing on her signature cigarette. The girls arrived last, when my mother through a cloud of smoke asked “So what did you all do today?” She asked as casually as one might inquire about the weather, but she was staring as a hawk might a mouse at my little brother. The rest of us were also staring but in terror, but dad was ready “You guys need to wash your hands” was his quick interjection, and we were on our feet for the bathroom with my brother shuffled in our hurried midst. We got to the bathroom, turned the water on in both sinks, and pleaded with our brother that the secret be maintained. He assured us that he understood. Hands washed, we returned to the kitchen, and before we could sit, the interrogation resumed with “what did you have for lunch?”—again staring only at my brother. My brother just LOVED the attention of us all in moments like this and there was no doubt that he had it now. He began rattling excitedly on the trip to the cafe, and not an eye in the room would have blinked had the ceiling collapsed. It was agonizing, like watching an approaching trainwreck. Mom knew the drill and interrupted the excited narrative with “and Anthony, did you have ice cream on the way home for dessert?” I was thinking our doom assured when Anthony blurted out “uh-uh (no), and I couldn’t believe our miraculous escape. But apparently mom couldn’t believe it either. She gazed quizzically at my brother as she said “you had no desserts on the way home?” Panic again. But once more and unbelievably a lucky “uh-uh”. Dinner itself was exceptional in that my younger brother held the floor conversation wise. The rest of us sat awaiting in unaccustomed unity the moment we must surely be hurled from the cliff. My mother was all too aware that something was up, and when the rest of us neglected to fight over who would do the dishes, she simply said as she stared this time at dad. “You all should come clean. Whatever’s going on, I’ll find out about it and you’ll wish you’d confessed.” The secret held a full 2 days.

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