How much reality should we share with our kids?

There have been so many horrible stories in the news recently I find myself switching channels and quickly folding newspapers every time my offspring enters the room. It’s not just because I’m a Cotton Wool Mum, or that I’m trying to preserve innocence as long as possible (well, maybe a little bit). But it’s also because I feel there’s only so much reality kids can handle, which is probably why they like magical stories so much.

Sometimes, though, there is no escaping reality. In my niece’s first year at secondary school, one of her friends killed herself. There had been no warning signs. Suddenly my niece and her friends who had previously been concerned with nothing deeper than High School Musical were forced to confront serious issues like depression and suicide.

Psychologists advise you should be honest with children old enough to understand if you’re struggling with money – ‘tell them things are a bit tight, but you’ll still have fun,’ advises Christine Webber. But I know some parents who would rather go further and further into debt rather than admit to their kids that they can’t buy them everything they want. I also know couples whose marriages are hanging on by a thread, but they would rather stay together and preserve the illusion of a perfect family – even though their hostility towards each other spills over into their children’s everyday lives.

So, how much reality do you think we should share with our kids?

written by Liz Jarvis