How to Deal with Your Parents Keeping Secrets As an Adult

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This article was written by Susan Pazak, PhD. dr. Susan Pazak is a licensed clinical psychologist and professional life coach. With over 21 years of experience, she specializes in treating adolescents and adults with psychological problems using cognitive behavioral therapy, symptom reduction techniques, and behavior modification techniques. She has been featured in numerous outlets and shows, including “My Strange Addiction.” dr. Zazak received his bachelor’s degree in psychology with a concentration in communications from the University of Pittsburgh, his master’s degree in clinical psychology from Pepperdine University, and his doctorate from Pepperdine University. in clinical psychology from Alliant International University This article has been viewed 19,124 times.

Your relationship with your parents will probably change as you get older. For example, your parents may start sharing new types of information with you or may keep secrets in an attempt to protect you. To deal with parents who keep secrets, you must have an open and honest conversation with your parents about the secrets. Discuss what kind of information should be shared as they get older. If you find out that your parents have been hiding something from you, try not to take it personally and come up with strategies to continue your relationship.

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    Pick a suitable time to talk. If you want to have a serious conversation with your parents about keeping secrets, you should bring it up when your parents aren’t busy. It would be difficult to have an important and meaningful conversation when your parents are busy with other tasks.[1]

    • For example, ask parents to go for a walk or go for a ride in the car. This will allow you to get their full attention and give you a chance to talk to them about your feelings.
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    Express your intentions. A good way to start a difficult conversation with your parents is to be honest and say what you want out of the conversation. You could start by saying, “Mom and Dad, I have something I want to get off my chest and I need you to listen to me.” This tells your parents that you want them to pay attention to what you have to say.[2]

    • You can also say, “I have something to ask you and I’m seeking your advice on how we can best handle this situation if it comes up again in the future.”
    • In this way, you tell the parents that you value their opinion and that you want to reach an acceptable solution.
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    Ask why they kept the secret from you. Once you clear your mind, you can go up to your parents and ask why they chose to keep it from you. For example, they may have been protecting you or worried about how you would react to the news.[3]

    • If your parents tell you that they withheld something from you because they were worried about how you might react, try to be receptive to this constructive criticism.[4]
      Being willing to listen to what they have to say can help improve your relationship and the flow of your communication.
    • Think back to times when your parents confided in you, and ask yourself, “Did I keep a secret?” “Was I critical of the things they told me?”
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    Be honest. When you talk to your parents about keeping secrets, you have to be honest. For example, if you are concerned that your parents are withholding important information about your health and well-being from you, you should explain why you are concerned.[5]

    • For example, you could say, “Dad, let me know the next time you have knee pain so I can help you with some chores around the house.”
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    Ask a medical professional to talk to the elderly parents. If you can’t reach your parents, you can ask your family doctor to talk to them about the importance of telling people when you need help. When this type of information comes from a medical professional, it will be easier for your parents to accept that they need your support.[6]

    • You can also invite someone they trust to talk with them about this issue, such as a family friend, relative, or spiritual leader.
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    Don’t take it personally. If you find out (either from your parents or from another relative/friend) that your parents have been hiding something from you, try not to take it personally.[7]
    Chances are your parents feel they are protecting you or doing you a favor by not informing you.[8]
    Or it could also have to do with personal setbacks or your parents’ insecurities.

    • For example, if one of your parents has a serious illness, they may keep it a secret from you for a while until more details are learned. They are probably doing this to protect you or because they are still processing the news themselves.
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    Get away from the situation. Before you answer, you should take some time to calm down and clear your mind. When you first find out that you’ve been left in the dark, you may feel upset, betrayed, or even angry. It is better not to react to the news from an emotional place. Instead, take some time to collect your thoughts.[9]

    • If you react immediately to a secret, you can actually make the situation worse.
    • While distancing yourself from the situation, you can also call a trusted friend to gain perspective and see if you are reacting reasonably.
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    Try to understand their perspective.[10]

    Your parents may be hiding from you for any number of reasons. For example, they may hide health or money problems to maintain control of their daily lives. By admitting to you that they are struggling, they fear that you will drastically change their lifestyle. Many elderly parents, for example, fear being placed in a long-term care facility.[11]

    • You could say, “I understand that you want to stay in your own home for as long as possible. In order to do that, I need to know if you need extra help. We could hire someone to clean your house or deliver meals.”
    • Let parents know that you understand their situation and want to help them.
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    Respect her decision. The best way to move forward is to understand and respect your parents’ decision not to tell you their secret.[12]
    Even if you don’t agree with their decision, try to empathize with them. Think about the situation from their point of view and try to rationalize why they left you out.[13]

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    Forgive your parents. The best way to get over the secret is to let it go and forgive your parents. Carrying anger is mentally exhausting, so the sooner you can accept the situation and forgive your parents, the better. Once you forgive them, you can move on with your relationship.[14]

    • For example, one of your parents may have fallen down the stairs and kept it from you because they are worried that you will start to see them as weak.
    • Let them know that you understand why they excluded you, but that they need to tell you in the future, for their own safety.
    • You may need to find a formal way to do this, for example by writing them a letter expressing your forgiveness. Even if you never give them this letter, it can be therapeutic for you to write it.
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    Realize that it is not always a bad thing to be left out.[15]

    In some cases, the secrets can be difficult to process and a burden to bear. Once a family secret is revealed to you, you may be asked to keep that secret away from other people in your life. This could lead to dishonesty.[16]

    • For example, your parents may confide in you that they are getting a divorce, but ask you not to tell your siblings because they are still young and it might be too difficult for them.
    • Alternatively, one of your parents may inform you that they are having an affair and ask you to keep it a secret from the other parent. This information would be difficult for you to process and would be a great burden to keep it secret.
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    Seek professional help. In some cases, your parents will reveal a huge, life-changing secret that you will need help to process. For example, your parents may tell you in early adulthood that you are adopted, but they are not your biological parents. You may find this news extremely difficult to process on your own. As a result, you may want to find a therapist to process this new information.[17]

    • Going to family counseling can also be a useful way to strengthen your relationship with your parents and improve communication with them.
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Categories: How to
Source: HIS Education

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