The child – mother relationship is complex. Few parents can say that they’ve had the perfect relationship with their child. It is in the teenage years, as children grow into adults, that many deviate and take actions that they hide from their parents sometimes for the rest of their lives. Then not only as teenagers, but as independent adults there are many facets that people decide to keep secret. Mothers have the strongest bond with children through the birth experience. Therefore, in order to understand this relationship better, this essay seeks to identify the most common secrets.
According to life coach Lauren Zander, the top reason people keep secrets is to keep the peace. She says that secrets are used to keep other people happy, keep situations safe, and to ensure a particular vision of us is maintained. This is particularly poignant for the mother-child relationship since mothers are held in great respect and their opinion matters.
Family dynamics during the past fifty years have changed dramatically. From mum and dad married forever with 2.4 children to separated, divorced, single parent families, as well as developments in adoption, fostering, and gay marriage.
In an assessment of an online teenage forum, which discussed the things that teenagers kept secret from their mothers there was an overall agreement that they do so because their mothers can be judgmental and overprotective. The things they don’t want their mum’s to know about can be categorised into three areas:
• Mental and physical problems: depression, eating disorders
• Social activity: partying, being bullied, what money is spent on, school bad marks/suspension
• Illegal activity: drinking, smoking, drugs, driving without a licence
In addition online activity such as surfing websites that they shouldn’t be accessing or using pseudonyms on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, is growing in popularity in order to maintain privacy particularly from parents and family members.
Girls in particular do not want to tell their mums that they are meeting with or seeing boyfriends. And further they do not reveal sexual activity or whether they are taking birth control.
While many of these problems or activities are ninety percent part of growing up, there are the incidents where the effect of these types of secrets can get out of control and negatively impact the child-mother relationship. Children’s physical, emotional, social and mental development greatly depends on the dynamics of the family unit in which they are born into or grow up in and can impact on the strength of parental bond and ensuring behaviour remains within social norms.
According to the NHS there has been an increase in children with behavioural problems suggesting that parents maybe struggling to connect with or manage their child’s development. However getting to the bottom of parent-child relationship problems can be difficult because there can be many different underlying issues. These issues are also impacted on by the variants of individual families, locality, religion, culture and ethnicity. So no one solution fits all.
The findings of this essay suggest that teenagers tend to keep secrets from their mothers because they believe it will affect their mother’s view of them negatively or because it is illegal. As adults it could be said that these reasons follow everyone into adulthood too. The fact remains that mothers, as every child’s closest bond, are the ones held in greatest respect and therefore secrets become part of managing mothers’ expectations, opinions, maintaining their love and the ongoing relationship – whether secrets are to the detriment or benefit of that relationship depends on the severity of what is being kept secret in terms of extremely immoral or illegal.