Wednesday Wisdom Tip – Is it OK to Keep Family Secrets?

I received this question from a mom in our bloggy community:

 I have a question about confidentiality. If your daughter tells you something and asks you not to tell anybody, would you tell your husband? 

This is such a good and IMPORTANT question.
Secrets can either break apart or meld together. 
 When it comes to sharing information my kids know that if they tell me, I am going to tell Dad, because we are one. It’s the same when they have a request. when they ask one parent; they’ll get the same answer from the other parent.
My husband and I are a team. It’s not OK for my child to go to the other parents if one of us says “no”. Our answer is our answer. This united front makes our family stronger and gives our children a sense of security.
I want to model to my kids that good marriages are built on trust and honesty. Not only that, their Dad cares just as much as I do about the concerns in their lives.
Sometimes this means I am the one who tells Dad. Maybe I need to tell him alone to prepare him so he can be ready to respond. Maybe I can help him to have a soft answer so that the girls are not afraid to tell him things. Other times it is the opposite. On more than one occasion when I have been gone for a weekend, my husband shared with me things about the girls I didn’t know (including when one got her first kiss!)
Secrets between a husband and wife are just not a good thing. If you are asked to hold a secret from your husband, it can cause division between the two of you. That situation can never win.
Have you ever found yourself caught between a child’s secret and a spouse? How did you rectify the situation?



  1. Have any of you struggled with this? I have had my girls a couple of times say “Don’t tell Dad!”, but they have learned very quickly that just isn’t an option.

    This post was not only generated by a question I had emailed to me, but also seeing this in the lives of my girls’ friends. Information that has been kept a secret from a dad; just broke my heart. I know my husband would be crushed by both me and his girls if that was happening in our home.

  2. My husband and I don’t keep any secrets from eachother regarding our children. We know how important it is to be a united front. On one occasion my daughter wouldn’t tell me something that had happened unless I promised not to tell ANYONE, including her father. I did promise her. And then I told him so that he would know what was happening. However I didn’t tell her that I told him. In hindsight I should have held firm with her and not made that promise but at the time I felt like it was the only way she would share with me and I knew it was some pretty heavy stuff that she wanted to share. And it was.

    The problem that we have is that my daughter (age 17) tells her grandpa “secrets” and asks him not to tell anyone. And he abides by that. Eventually, most things slip out because he is such an honest guy and not a good secret keeper. I don’t know exactly what to do about this because she apparantly needs that feeling of being able to share some things confidentially and I would prefer for her to tell her secrets to family rather than non-family. But I have a problem with him not sharing the info with me or my mom or my husband. Some things end up being things that he knows we would not approve of, but he still holds that confidence. I would never divulge how I got the information and I have told him that. A lot of times if I already “know” something than I can get her to share it wil me without her knowing that I already know. Any suggestions on how to handle this?

    1. That is really tough, Karen!

      In my small group for teen girls, I tell them that what is said in the group stays in the group. Like you said, kids need a safe place to share and with an adult is so much better than when they get peer advice. I do make the exception if what they are doing is harmful to themselves.

      I guess, as you said, she is sharing with a family member and someone who loves her enough to get help involved if she was in danger. Pray that her grandpa will also give your girl good advice and that if it is needed that each and every time “the hidden things of darkness will come to light” as the Bible says.

      1. Thank you Lynn! I’m going to have to find that verse in the bible and pray that for both my girls. I appreciate you and your ministry! You are a blessing to so many!

  3. Hi Lynn,

    Thank you for this post. I have a question relating to step-parents. My husband is not my 3 older daughters father, and there are definitely things that they’ve shared with me that I didn’t feel obligated to share with him. They would be crushed if I did so. What is your stance on blended families and this same topic?

    1. Crystal, thank you so much for asking. I think the thing that is most important is trust and honesty between you and your husband. If he knows there are things that are just between your girls and you and he doesn’t feel that you are keeping things from him, that’s great! We just need to be sure we protect the integrity of our marriage~

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