Your growing child’s diary…
At least my secrets are safe with you my dear diary!
Today, Lami told me he likes me, and that if I like him too, we will enjoy many fun things together, and no body else will be there with us. I really like Lami, but I am scared because I think I am still too young. But when I told Layla and Remi, they said it was fine, that they also had boyfriends and it was not a big deal. I wanted to tell my mom this afternoon when I got home, but I think she will be angry with me, and start shouting at me “you are just 13 years old”. Lami promised never to break my heart, and gave me a special gift (this pen I am writing with). Meanwhile, something horrible almost happened, dad saw me with my phone when I was chatting with Lami, but I lied I was only playing a game. I am glad he didn’t find out. I really think I am in love.
This child may be at the brink of losing her innocence, her self-worth, and her integrity; but her parents have no idea. There is is a huge disconnect between her and her parents, and it looks like it’s about to get worse. Lami and Saratu’s other friends could easily introduce her to drugs, wrong deals, partying etc.
Although parents have no control over the interactions their children make with other kids; they can influence such relationships positively by building strong friendships with their own children. It is important not to show shock or express anger when your child gives you some seemingly disturbing information. If you keep a calm demeanor, you would get more information from your child; build trust between you and your child; and you would be able to positively influence the choices your child makes.
If you feel your child may be keeping secrets from you and you would like to break into that silence, you would need to engage with your child better, e.g. create a regular talk time with your kids where you ask them to tell you everything; tease them about anything so you can get more information from them; share your story or other story with them with a view to hearing their own views on the matter; let them know that their secrets are safe with you etc. Your child needs you as a confidant, a friend and mentor; rather than as a judge.