The Good Book commands us to be honest and truthful. “Thou shalt not lie” (the 9th commandment) is a standard for living. It is not always easy to uphold this moral code when our grandchildren ask hard questions. My Grand once asked “Is my first mother dead?” and my heart sank. How does a grandmother answer that question honestly and gently? I gave a quick prayer for guidance and told the truth. “I do not know” was simple and honest.
A grandparent (or anyone else involved in kinship care) never wants a lie to come back and bite them. Usually children are satisfied with a short answer and thanks to a short attention span, move on to other interests. Keep information brief, clear and concise. Failure or refusal to answer will cause grandchildren to think we are keeping secrets from them. At some point they will seek to reveal those hidden truths and most likely will be hurt even more.
A loving relationship is never built on the shifting sands of falsehood, but secured on the firm foundation of honesty. When storms arrive (and they will), no dark secrets will come to light but truth will shine like a beacon of security and affirmation. Truth is really very simple and withstands the light of revelation. Lies and secrets bring pain and distrust when exposed.
I am not saying to tell a child things that will cause confusion and pain. Don’t tell them what they need not know. It is best not to initiate a conversation that leads to a discussion of the absent parent(s) at all. But when they ask, tell the truth in its simplest form which is honesty. Then hold them in your arms and soothe those wounds with the love that only a grandparent can provide.