Mum's the Word

The code

Posted: Feb. 6, 2018 4:55 pm Updated: Feb. 6, 2018 5:10 pm

While our children tend to tell us certain things, they may favor one parent over the other for particular things.

Children often turn to the one they find more in common with, often boys with the dads and girls with the moms. In this scenario, some things may be divulged in a sort of safety of secrecy where the other parent is either told or it is unspoken that they are not to talk to their counterpart about what has been said. My friend's son calls it the "Bro Code" with his dad.

Initially, I thought this was total BS and sexist, but as I engaged in an open discussion within my core group, I became more on the fence.

Is it OK to tell one parent something, expecting them to keep it from the other parent?

I turned the question over to one of the men and said, "If your daughter told your partner something, maybe in regard to boys, are you OK with them withholding that information from you?"

He responded, "Well, I trust them to do the right thing. They also know me and the kids. If they want me to stay out of jail, maybe some things are better left unsaid."

I'm not going to even begin to understand the male point of view, but they seem to be way more OK with this than the females.

Maybe it's because we are talkers and processors and more often the keepers of secrets. At this stage of life I tell the kids, if you are doing anything that you have to keep secret, unless it's planning a surprise birthday party, it's wrong. Another friend, when dealing with their child making certain choices, asked them to talk to their father about it and then advised if they were not willing to have an open discussion with the other parent about the choices they are considering, then they were not ready to be making those choices.

I really liked this and considered this extremely good counsel.

What if they are going to make the decisions anyway and really need that helpful counsel? Isn't it better that they can talk to one of the parents?

I think parenting is hard and even harder when you split the defense. Yes, ultimately I want my kids to feel safe and have an outlet for their thoughts and decision making, even at my own exclusion. However, I believe having both the male and female perspective on things can help provide a balanced outlook and response.

I also don't like the secrets between partners or within a team. If the code causes a rift between partners, then it doesn't work. If you agree to the "Bro Code" and its terms, then maybe it has a place. As long as everyone is communicating about what is said and there is a general understanding about what will be unsaid, then partners can still function within their capacity and work as a team to keep these kids safe.

"Bro code" may not work for everyone, but I think it's an interesting thing to consider as well as its "sister code," which mainly consists of "don't tell your dad how much we spent at TJ Maxx."

Jen Reekie was born and raised in Quincy and received a communications degree at the University of Kansas, which has come in quite handy as she communicates every day with four children who don't hear a word she says. This stay-at-home mom enjoys the challenge, though, and shares her experiences in this blog, "Mum's the Word." She welcomes your feedback, questions and stories about staying sane while raising kids.