The Truth… To Tell or Not To Tell?

Am I really doing the right thing by lying to my child about the reality of life?

This question often comes into my mind, are we really doing the right thing by protecting our children from the realities of life?  Probably because of what my family has been through due to my Leukaemia battle it’s more relevant for us.

We were forced into this dilemma with my daughter when I was very suddenly diagnosed with aggressive Leukaemia.  Suddenly we were faced with one of life’s realities, mortality.  I found I couldn’t tell her ‘everything will be ok and not to worry’ because actually that wasn’t true and I couldn’t hide it. I was to spend months in hospital and was gravely ill.  That safety curtain (which we all know is just a facade) protecting her from experiencing loss, hurt and fear was gone…forever. It wasn’t easy and took real courage to ruin my child’s rose tinted view of the world.  It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do and to watch her little face as it all sunk in was heartbreaking but I had no choice, I had to prepare her.  And now I can’t tell her that my cancer won’t come back because there is a good chance that it might. Then if it does where will that leave her trust and belief in me?

I do wonder though if protecting our children from some things is the right thing, is it really preparing them for life? Are we doing them any favours in the long run?  Isn’t part of being a parent giving your child life skills and preparing them for what might lie ahead?  I’m not talking about totally destroying their innocence and happiness but, maybe just being more honest.

My daughter has a very inquisitive mind and has asked some very unnerving questions.  ‘Is there going to be a World War 3?’ is her latest one.  Even though I choose my words carefully  I find myself being more honest with her because I don’t want her to spend years, like I did, searching for the perfect life that just doesn’t exist. I feel that rather than protecting her from the reality I should be telling her that life is full of challenges and heartbreak as well as breathtaking experiences and good times? I feel that as long as I make it clear that there are many amazing things in life as well as times when you question the meaning of it she will believe that when something bad happens she will get through it and perhaps see it as a positive life lesson.

As a child I grew up believing in fairy tales, often writing my own stories, assuming that when you became an adult you had the career you wanted, found love, got married, had a family and boom…life sorted!  And yes of course all the tough times (once I came out of the other side) made me more resilient but could some of these situations have been avoided?

When in my mid 20’s, finding the sudden realities of life really tough, I remember thinking ‘Why didn’t anyone tell me what life was really like?’  At times I wished my parents had been more honest or perhaps more open at least.  Some of the realities of life came as a real shock to me and what hit me mostly was feeling desperately let down by life.

My parents were very good at hiding their struggles and I have since learnt that there were many; the burden of having to make ends meet along with the everyday challenges of life in general.  Obviously as a child you see things from a very childish point of view and part of being a grown up is understanding and appreciating what your parents did.  I don’t think it was a conscious decision on their part but just a natural instinct.  When I look back I was totally unaware of any difficulties.
For my child I want to be her sanctuary, where she can seek refuge and have the confidence to talk openly about her fears.  If she has this shelter to retreat to she will always find a way to get through.  I want to her to grow up with as happy a life as possible but with her eyes wide open and well equipped to cope with the challenges she will face.   I always make sure she knows she is loved even when I am cross with her, this is so important to me above everything.


As far as I’m concerned this blog is about my thoughts and is in no way meant as me taking the high ground or claiming to be some sort of parenting guru.  I am just a mother who is doing the best she can and like the rest of us winging it a lot of the time.  Being a parent is one of the toughest things you will ever do so all you can do is your best.

12 thoughts on “The Truth… To Tell or Not To Tell?”

  1. Great post! I agree with you. I'm super open with my kids, bad things do happen and I want them to know that but to also know that our attitudes can make a big difference. I also want them to know that I'm here for them. And heaven forbid anything awful happening, I will continue to be. I can only imagine what you are facing but I think I would be honest if it was me. I sincerely hope you are doing well now! It's my first visit. I'm the one asking the questions on the big up your blog post on FB. I'm starting a #sundayblogshare on my blog and will be posting this one later today. I'm subscribed, too so I'll be back. I want to read more of your story. In the meantime, you are in my prayers Anna!


  2. Parenting is hard. Even as an adult, I think my mom still struggles with wanting to protect me. I have to remind her that it's okay for her to lean on me as she faces life's struggles (especially following my dad's diagnosis and death from dementia). You just have to insulate them as much as you can in order to allow them to be kids, but be honest when challenges arise so that they're prepared to handle them as adults. Hugs.


  3. First of all, congratulations on your remission! I am in awe of your strength. Second of all, it's no wonder your daughter is so inquisitive because you are so clearly also, if not inquisitive, reflective and mindful. I think it's a wonderful trait to cultivate in your daughter. I am not a parent, so it's not like I can give any advice, really, but I think you make valid points, particularly when you mentioned both the heartbreaking and the breath-taking components of life. I don't think it does a disservice to be honest, and as you mentioned, your daughter has already seen both of those things in your battle: watching you have to fight for your live, but also seeing you come up victorious. Keep fighting! 🙂


  4. Wishing you continued healing. This was a solid look at parenting in the real world. I think you're on the right track. I appreciate that my parents were always open with me. My imagination was still able to run wild (it still does) but I knew what was real and what was not (e.g. our budget did not allow for Santa Claus :-)). Your daughter may well learn a level of bravery and courage early on that sometimes comes to us too late as adults.


  5. I agree – it's so hard to find that perfect balance between honesty and sheltering (for lack of a better word). Sending good thoughts to you and your family as you continue to heal.


  6. I'm not a mother but I can give a child's perspective. There were things that my mother kept from me, which, if I had known them earlier in life I think would have saved me from years of anxiety. From her view I am sure that she was just protecting me and never meant to hurt me, but I knew even at 13 years' old that I wasn't being given the whole picture. I'm all for telling the truth to children. I think they are more resilient than we realise, and they're very perceptive x


  7. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. Good to hear that I am no along in what I think. Thanks for your kind words of support and look forward to linking up in the future


  8. Thank you and your words, they really make a lot of sense to me and sum up how I felt as a young adult and that I too could have been saved a lot of anxiety. Yes children are very perceptive and I have found this when I told my daughter something and her answer was 'I knew you were hiding something from me mummy'. Thank you for your comment!


  9. Thank you and yes and think there is a strong argument for knowing where you stand, I think that saves you from a lot of disappointments in life. And yes I really hold onto the hope that my daughter has learned valuable life lessons that will make her a strong adult! Many thanks


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