As we sat around the dinner table, my six-year-old son said, “I was happy to get a spirit stick for good behavior. I was sad it rained. I was excited for Daddy to get home. And, nothing really scared me.”

Then, my husband and I shared our “happy, sad, excited, scared” moments.

When it was my nine-year-old daughter’s turn, she said, “I’m happy we’re together for dinner.”

“You don’t have an excited, scared or sad moment from school?”

“No,” she replied, “just another day.”


We started our “happy, sad, excited, scared” tradition when my oldest daughter began kindergarten. We thought it would be a good way to improve our communication and find out specific details about her day.

We’ve always had open communication in our family. Several months ago, we began talking about sex. It’s an ongoing conversation. (Many readers listed great resources in the comment section, and I write about the book that really helped me). Here’s the link, if you’re interested: Talking to my Kids about Sex

Lately, though, I sense my daughter holding back.

Image courtesy of Kittikun Atsawintarangkul /

Image courtesy of Kittikun Atsawintarangkul /

I feel like there is a real battle. The world is telling her it’s okay to keep “little” secrets from me. You know, the fun kind. The world is telling her — it’s not cool to tell your parents … everything.

I recently watched a cute, family-friendly show with my kids about a talking dog. The whole show was about keeping the secret from their parents. They were hiding a video the dog had made, then remaking a fake video to cover up the truth. It was funny, and we laughed. Afterwards, though, I thought about the life lesson, and I cringed inside.

I know on the surface, it seems harmless. But, we’re telling our kids it’s okay to keep “little” secrets from us.

I want to know everything. The top secrets and the small stuff, it’s all important to me.

If she’s not talking to me now, how will I ever know who was drinking at that party? Or, what drugs she’s been offered? Or, if she’s being bullied?

If I don’t build the foundation now for open communication, it will be lost.

But, I didn’t quite know how to create this openness. So, I prayed.

Then, I remembered some simple advice I received from a mentor many years ago … To get your kids to open up, talk to them at bedtime.

So, I tried it. I crawled in bed with her, we said our nightly prayer, and then I started asking questions.

JACKPOT!!!! I found out more in five minutes than I had gotten in a month! Who had crushes, who was arguing, which boys were cute and who was being mean.

Whatever your child tells you, always remember, “You must be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” James 1:19

They need you to listen to their secrets. Be their safe place.

So, Moms, how do you get your kids to open up and share their secrets?

8 thoughts on “Secrets

  1. I didn’t realize our girls were the same age. This age has become more of a challenge with communication, we are reading the book “A girl after Gods own heart” and it’s really helped. We’re almost done with it and she has already asked for me to find another book we can read together.

  2. That was about the age I started to shut my parents out in a big way. I have a 6mo baby boy so this advice comes from my own experience as a young girl: choose lecture/lesson moments wisely and keep them rare, listen more than you talk, always be 100% on her team (even when you don’t agree with her views/choices), and keep a 5 to 1 “compliment to criticism” ratio. It’s tough out there. 🙂 Great post, and great job mama!

  3. So did you get any scoop about her bestie? Kidding. Presley opens up at night too. If I turn the lights off she really opens her heart. Thanks for a beautiful post.

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