Don’t Tell Mommy (Marriage Part 2)

When a child confides in only one parent.

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Comments (30)

(28) Anonymous, June 6, 2015 4:22 PM

Lori,I totally agree with you
we are not two persons in one but two different individuals with their own personalities

(27) Anonymous, May 26, 2015 2:55 PM

it is difficult to put a rule to this

In some situations I think it is valuable to have the input of both parents in a problem, provided the parent who is being made the confidant clears the agreement with his or her child first; and dprovided the child is not the victim of abuse by one parent.
In other situations it is invaluable for the child to be able to give voice to what worries them and know that they are being treated with respect and dignity - that their worries are not being aired with anyone else.
I grew up in a seriously abusive home. I was the 'korban tamid' (only way to describe it in brief). I felt I could not confide in the obviously abusive parent - it was simply meat to that person's abuse. The other parent tended to tell everything there was to tell about me - it left me feeling doublybetrayed and vulnerable. I once wrote a letter to my grandmother who lived half the world away. Simply writing the letter helped me lift a small amount of the pain off my shoulders. I did not receive a reply. That was acutely disappointing; I even began to feel guilty about it since she could have told my parents at some point and then I would be in a much more destructive situation than I already found myself in as a 'korban'. It was a really impossible situation. I was completely isolated.
Had I had some reliable and trustworthy adult source open to me, I think it might have shortened the terrible and wasteful years of trying to find myself again, that took so much of my soul-time across my adulthood.

(26) chilliworker, May 17, 2015 8:39 AM


I would say that i'm gonna keep the secret, let the child unburden themselves.
If i think that the other parent needs to be involved, i might try and convince the child that this is for his/her benefit, and the other parent is the one who might be able to help.
If there is no NEED for the other parent to know, then just keep it a secret.

(25) Ingrid, May 15, 2015 11:00 PM

Totally Agree with you .....

Unless it is a life or death situation it makes sense.

(24) Bobby5000, May 15, 2015 7:47 PM

be a person who will listen and make things better

Many parents make things worse when you tell them about problems. Jack is bullied at school, reluctantly tells his mom and she begins screaming at her husband, calls the school and makes things far worse increasingly her son's stress. When another child has a similar problem, an uncle takes him aside for the next few weeks, teaches him how to fight and a couple of battles later other kids leave him alone. The first question in a child's mind is whether the parent can help.

When teenager Jane tells her father she is unhappy and unpopular, telling her that she is beautiful doesn't cut it. A cousin explains how to dress and act provides better advice.
Understanding, empathy, social skills can be very helpful and being a parent is a tough job.

(23) Janice Kenner, May 15, 2015 6:09 PM

I agree with you.

I agree with you completely. The child may be planning a nice surprise for daddy or mommy and needs the other parents help.
Maybe one parent uses sarcasm and innocently thinks the child takes it as a joke as he or she intends but the child is hurt by this. I would agree not to tell, hear what the child says and then if appropriate, get the child to agree to let me explain to the other parent.

(22) Dick, May 15, 2015 2:29 PM

Yes . . . but

We've been married 61 years and I am fully aware that our daughters have taken my wife aside for a specific reason. And that is OK. But I don't like it.

(21) Orli, May 15, 2015 5:11 AM

Molestation thrives where secrets cannot be voiced.

I think you are very right! A child would only say not to tell the other parent if they feel intimidated or threatened in some way. If that is the case the child needs to be able to confide in the parent that he trusts. The child needs to be able to tell what is happening and why he is afraid to allow the other parent to know. Child abuse and molestation thrives in a marriage where no "secrets" can be voiced to the none offending parent.

(20) Laura, May 15, 2015 1:56 AM

You are right.

My daughter approaches me with questions about her body, and my son approaches my husband with his concerns. It makes sense to me that sometimes these questions break along gender lines, or who is more able to understand., or even who is more available.

(19) Anonymous, May 14, 2015 8:26 PM

I totally agree with Lori

The reason a child would pick one parents over the other is because he/she knows what will be the reaction of the one he is trying to avoid and most of the time it is a passing situation.
This is part of the marriage package, each one is good at something else.

(18) Raphael, May 14, 2015 5:37 PM

Lori think before you speak

I was really disappointed in this movie. I think your advise is wrong and the way you break down the Rabbi's in your movie is wrong !!! If you continue with this type of movies you will break down the Rabbi's authority and make that every tom will question there teachings. There should not be secrets between parents - Question : How will that Rabbi feel that disagreed with you if he heard on this movie what his wife said behind his back. Do you think you promote peace in the family or divorce heaven forbid

Chani, May 27, 2015 4:20 PM

A very good point


You make a very good point. This point could have been made without explaining about the panel of Rabbis and how Lori disagreed with them. While I know that Rabbis are not always correct, it should not be discussion on social media. Also, I agree with the mentioning of the wife's comment could easily cause friction between the 2 of them - Rabbis are not immune to Shalom Bayis issues, and that Rabbi would probably recognize himself in this presentation.

(17) Anonymous, May 14, 2015 5:17 PM

I completely agree (with some caveats)

I completely agree that we need to reinforce our children's trust in us and feeling that they can come to us with their problems. This has happened to me and I have agreed to keep their secret to myself, but with the caveat that if it involves the child's safety , I will seek their permission to share it with my spouse so that we can work it out all 3 of us together.

(16) Carol, May 14, 2015 4:23 PM

I totally agree with your argument/side. As children age they have different "problems" or challenges and it's our responsibility as a parent to help them and teach them. At the time of the request there's no way to know if the request is small or large but I do want my children to know they can trust me. Thanks for that side of the argument!

(15) Melissa, May 14, 2015 4:01 PM

Depends on the moment and what is shared?

Not everything needs to be shared.

Do we not desire to share with the Shekinah bride at times when it is not a Friday?

In THEORY the rabbis are correct - but in practise we know our relationships are not perfect. A Divine union with all higher aspects honored, respected and - ultimately tethered in this world is what we should strive for. Sometimes i think we need to embrace our own imperfections and welcome the complementary wisdom that a child's view can impart.

(14) Batya Berlinger, May 14, 2015 3:46 PM

Parents are separate and different people

Parents may try to act as a single unit, but they are still two distinct people with different personalities. The child may feel, that given the problem he wants to discuss, one parent will be more open, more able to give him/her the answer or support required. I agree with the commentator above who said that after a while she asks the child if it's ok for her to share with the other parent. Thank you Rebbitzin Lori, for showing the Rabbomim there a different approach.

(13) Anonymous, May 14, 2015 3:40 PM

As a Child, As a Spouse, As a Parent

When I was single and living at home I confided in my father and mother separately about different issues. In the times I've told my dad not to repeat a conversation to my mom, I got the feeling she knew of it. At one point I was asked my dad point blank if he told my mom, he said that whatever I tell him he isn't guaranteeing it stays by him only. He told me that as a parent, he wants me to talk to him about anything I want to. But as a spouse, he and my mom are one and if I tell him something, he might talk it through with her. At first, I was upset. Slowly it emerged that I'd rather talk to my dad, hear his opinion and if he chooses to tell my mom, he can. Knowing that BOTH my parents are in the know, made me feel protected and loved. As a parent of small children, Im not dealing with this yet. However, since this is a very fine line to tread, I would probably go by how my dad did things with me. Confiding in one parent, a child feels that that parent is on his side, and the other parent is on the other "side". If the second parent is in the know (without telling the child about it or giving an opinion) a child feels cared for by both of his parents and there is nothing more protective in the world than that feeling.

(12) the Oracle, May 14, 2015 2:59 PM


I am usually the one who is not told at the time.

Why do my children confide in their father and not tell me?

For one thing, I have been ill, and they do not want to rely on my reaction, which sometimes is not kind.

For another, I am much more conservative than their father, so some things I have a less-than-kind reaction to.

Does it bother me? No. I agree that our family has the same goal, and I want communication to thrive in our family, even if it has to sometimes take "baby steps."

And, after all these years, I am well, I am kinder and wiser. Our children now confide in me and say, "Don't tell Daddy." lol

(11) Diane, May 14, 2015 2:49 PM

I agree

I agree it is more important to get the child to open up. Once the issue is out in the open, it may or may not be appropriate to tell the spouse. At least the child's feelings, issues or thoughts are out in the open and help can be on the way. Thank you Lori!

(10) chaim, May 14, 2015 2:47 PM

MY Rabbi agreed with Lori

I recently had one of my kids discuss some of his dating questions with me on condition that I NOT tell Mommy. I asked my Rabbi who said that I am allowed to keep confidence and not tell my wife about it. I asked my son for permission to disclose the conversation to my wife. Some parts he said okay, some not. My perspective wont match exactly to hers, just as hers wont match exactly mine. Having different approaches, within Torah, are healthy.

(9) Anonymous, May 14, 2015 9:08 AM

Thank you Lori, you are so right

I have often been confused as to what was the right thing to do in such a situation, although my instinct always told me that I had to give my child that trust and not tell my husband. Thank you Lori for speaking up; I wish I had that sort of conviction earlier - I think that some of my children would have confided to me more had I not made the mistake in the past of thinking that we have to tell our spouse everything.

(8) Anonymous, May 14, 2015 2:31 AM

I beleive that we as parents should use our best judgment to protect our children. And, if they have a request not to share, the reason is very seldom their issue. It more explains that the child will feel judged by the other parent and also is not fully comfortable expressing it. We need to provide utmost respect for their privacy, and encourage trust that they can express all they want. Just like when somebody would go to therapist. Children should not need to wait till they can enter a therapist to fully experience that they can share anything that they wish.

Laura, May 14, 2015 3:56 PM

I agree with Lori and Anonymous about privacy

I agree with Lori's opinion and with Anonymous's comment. I believe the most important thing we can give our children is a safe space, for all that such a thing entails. The responsibility lies in us to allow a child to express whatever they feel they need to, and then to respond in a way that is helpful to their development, even if sometimes that simply means lending a nonjudgemental ear.

Thank you, Lori.

(7) Nancy, May 11, 2015 5:58 PM

I agree with Lori Palatnik 100%

I also wish I had been a fly on the wall when she disagreed with the rabbi. That must have made for one lively exchange! :-)

(6) Anonymous, May 11, 2015 6:29 AM

Kids need to someone let that someone be you

Yes, I agree kids need to trust someone and better to trust you then their peers. The peer who does not love them as much as you do and doesn't have the knowledge you have.
Thank you for speaking up.

(5) Sarah, May 11, 2015 1:20 AM

you are soooo right!

I cannot agree with you more. Spouses have to understand that sometimes the spouse is put on the back burner and sometimes the children are put on the back burner. Each circumstance is different. Today we have so many, nebach, kids who have gone off the derech. In speaking to some of them, I hear some things over and over. The Rebbe/Morah insulted me in front of everyone else, the kids bullied me, My parents just went through everything by rote--I never truly felt the simcha of Shabbos--just I can't wait for Shabbos so I can sleep. All the hateful remarks about Pesach--how hard it is, how expensive it is. And now this too? Baruch Hashem I have a wonderful and open relationship with my children. One of them gave me hard time, but I never shut that door of communication--more than once I heard--don't tell Daddy--my answer was ok, I won't. Once we talked about it and I let a few days go by--we talked again and I said, would you mind if I talked to Daddy now or do you still want me not to say anything. 80% of the time, things had calmed down and I was given permission to tell Daddy. You have to know your kids and each one is different. They aren't produced on a copying machine and you can't fit a square into a circle.

(4) Sidney, May 10, 2015 7:35 PM

Mostly Yes (but not unqualified)

Reb. Lori,
You often quote the Chofetz Chaim. In general if someone has a problem (even a child) let's say with a social issue with school, then the fewer people involved the better (unless having both parents involved betters the odds of a successful resolution).
He specifically writes that talking to one's spouse is no different than to a stranger if the rules of speech are violated.
Of course there are plenty of scenarios where a child is out-of-line making such a request and a Rabbi must be consulted by the parent who promised privacy to the child before that privacy may be violated.

(3) Raquel, May 10, 2015 5:02 PM

follow up

I understand letting them trust you and speak to you (specially because there are gender related things that are easier to speak with with one spouse).

However, would you tell them something like, "You know you can also always trust daddy" or "I won't say anything but...."?

(2) Anonymous, May 10, 2015 4:08 PM


Thank you for standing up and expressing how important it is to protect the connection with our children. My kids sometimes share things with my husband at bedtime that they haven't shared with me. Baruch Hashem, they can do so.

If one of our children didn't want me to know something that they were comfortable sharing with my spouse, I would be grateful that he/she can talk to at least one of us. In all honestly, I would be a little jealous and would probably try to figure out how I can have a better connection with that child.

Sometimes a panel of very smart people can be completely wrong. Thank G-d that Judiasm is a way of life that questions everything and everyone!!! It took me some time to realize its okay and even necessary to question Rabbis.

(1) Miriam, May 10, 2015 11:34 AM

100% agree

with every word. Thank G-d you were at the panel! I see this a lot. People take these "rules" and apply them to parenting, and the rules make no sense and drive the kids nuts!
Like: "Always defend the teacher."
Or: "Always present a united front."
I would like to suggest an excellent rule: "Use your common sense." (!)
A child approaches you in confidence and you tell them, I won't listen to you unless I can share it with someone they don't want you to?????
Another question to ponder: Why does the child insist on this? Does the child feel enough unconditional love coming from the other parent? Trust? These are issues that should probably be thought about.
P.S. When Hashem told Avraham that Sarah had said, "But I am old" instead of her true words that "But my master is old", He didn't follow the "share-all-share-alike" rule!
P.P.S. I've actually heard Rabbi Matisyahu Salomon speak about following your instinct and not the parenting books. (Presumably, if you're an emotionally healthy person.) I imagine he speaks to people who have hurt their children by going against their instincts while keeping to the rules they read in parenting books.


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