A long time ago my mother in law shared an important article with me regarding some safe family tactics and communication. The article she shared talked about not using the word “secrets” in conversations with your kids but instead to substitute it with “surprises”. The idea being that surprises will eventually be shared and revealed, but secrets can sometimes make us feel not so great in the inside when we are asked to keep them. Furthermore, it went on to state that this language is helpful when trying to establish open channels of communication in the unfortunate event that a form of abuse may occur, and the abuser says things like “let’s make this our little secret”. By establishing that your family and household does not have secrets, it hopefully will resonate with the child that this is not okay and they need is seek counsel from a trusted adult. While I couldn’t find the article she had shared with me long ago, a few similar reads are this piece by Denver Moms and this one from Very Well Family.
Another level of family safety we practice is establishing a family password. The idea is that the only people who know the password are my husband, myself, and our children. In the event someone ever approaches them and says that they are our friend and to come with them or that their dad and I asked them to get them, our children have to ask for the family password before they even move. If the person approaching them cannot tell them the password, then they have our full permission to scream and run away. My daughter found that part humorous, but then asked an important question. She said, “but what about our grandparents or aunts and uncles?” I told her that if there was ever a time when they didn’t know someone was supposed to pick them up and did, we would divulge the password to that trusted adult so they’d know it was okay to go with them. Then, like a personal account, we’d change the password to another obscure word that only we would know.
While these are just some of the ways in which we try to keep communication and trust within our family unit, there are countless other ways to help children and parents feel safe. In what ways do you and your family establish safe practices and routines? Would love to hear more ideas in the comments.
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