I come from a house where no one talked about anything except paying electricity bills, rent, or studies.

I was never asked questions about myself, my social life, friends or lack of them etc. My parents never told me anything about their lives.

I want my child to share her sorrows and joys with me so I think I will have to start first by telling her about myself. This way I will set an example that it is normal to talk about your life to parents and vice versa.

At what age should this be started? What is the way to start this? What should and shouldn't I talk about?

2 Answers 2


Joys are great. Always tell them about the joys (unless its how much fun you had out drinking with your friends or something else that is OK for adults but not age appropriate).

Please filter the sorrows though. While its good to discuss death and having a bad day at work; you don't want to pile your responsibilities on your kids.

My parents have always cried poverty, and were ridiculously negative as a child; they still are in fact... "The TV got shut off around Christmas, well its the fault of this holiday because everyone wants wants wants..." or "We cant afford to get you braces because we wouldn't be able to buy food." or "Our marriage is going down the tubes because bla bla ___"

Talk like this makes your kids internalize the negativity. I would have panic attacks in middle school and high school because I felt it was my responsibility to ... pay a bill that couldn't be paid, to mediate between adults that went getting along, or to just not "need" as much (Maybe if I skip dinner we wont have food problems).

(P.S. Not implying this is what you would do, just sharing my experience.)

Be careful of the problems you discuss with your kids because they may feel that you need help solving it.

  • You have told me what I shouldn't tell. Thanks. Now kindly tell me what I should tell regarding sorrows. Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 15:26
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    "While its good to discuss death and having a bad day at work;" Just discuss the general ups and downs of being an adult. Don't pile your responsibilities on them. That's what I was trying to get at.
    – user7678
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 15:32
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    +1. It's OK to explain why you are sad or upset (indeed, it's better than hiding it, because kids easily blame themselves for a parent's bad mood without other information), but focusing on it extensively and/or blaming it for every bad thing can become easily overwhelming.
    – Acire
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 17:47
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    +10 for "because kids easily blame themselves for a parent's bad mood without other information" From @Erica - Soooo true. Some kids do it more than others but remember toddlers think they are the center of the world (its developmental) so if you're in a bad mood, it MUST (in their minds) be their fault.
    – user7678
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 17:50

My wife is an elementary school counselor, and we've always been totally frank with our kiddo on the good and bad in life. When pets have died, we've explained the death and we've been sad about it together - because it IS sad, and it affects all of us. We ask our daughter how her day was (she's 6) and at this point she's been "trained" to query the same of us.

I don't think there's any age where it's appropriate to start this; the answer is pretty much ANY age. Don't shield your children from the joys and sadnesses in life, they are real and will be a perpetual part not just of their upbringing but their life in general. My daughter's first fish death occurred when she was 3. We buried him, wished him well and thanked him for being a part of our family. In the coming years, we expect my wife's grandmother to pass and that will be the REAL test for us on how we handle that kind of sadness.

And with regards to joys there are daily experiences to be reveled and cherished with our kids, no matter how trivial they are, and children should know how precious and wonderful life is by pointing out the daily good things to balance out the sorrows. We celebrate a good spelling test with reinforcement, we endeavor to improve the math grade, we look at life as an opportunity to improve who we are and the world around us. Dwelling only on the practical to me seems to negate what it is that makes us feel alive and a part of something.

Teach your kids to embrace the joys and the sorrows - it's who we are, and it's how we know we're alive. And maybe in turn that will help you therapeutically recognize more of the joys and cope with the sorrows through your kids that in my humble opinion were unfortunately neglected in your own upbringing.

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    Great answer! I think it is important to be honest and frank with kids.
    – aldrin
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 4:28

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