Parenting Q & A- Honesty with children, Siblings with Tourettes, Keeping a friend's secret

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By Gregory Ramey, PhD, child psychologist at Dayton Children's and Dayton Daily News columnist

Edition: April 15, 2007 | Topic: Questions from readers


My 8-year-old daughter is being raised by her grandparents. She refers to me as her aunt and is growing up to be a very sweet and well-adjusted little girl.

Should I tell her that I am actually her biological mother? I am very scared as to what effect this may have on her. Would it be best to wait until she is older?


It's time for you to be honest with your daughter. She likely will find out at some point that you are indeed her biological mother. The best time to tell her is now. It would have been better if you had spoken with her at an earlier age, so as not to live a lie that you are her aunt.

Be direct and speak at a level that she can understand. Don't go into a great deal of detail. Refer to yourself as her "birth mother." Tell her that you loved her so much, that you realized that you would not be able to provide as good a home as her grandparents. Make sure her grandparents are comfortable with the explanation. At age 8, your daughter may have a few questions, but be prepared for more detailed questions as your daughter gets older.

Being honest does not mean you have to answer every specific question regarding what was going on in your life that caused you not to raise her. Keep the focus on the love that you have for her and the fact that you put her needs for a good home in front of your desire to raise her.


My 10-year-old brother has Tourettes syndrome. He acts and says some really weird things at times. This is very embarrassing in front of my friends. I know he can't help it, but it's still hard to understand why he acts so stupid.


Your brother has a medical problem. He is not acting "stupid." His unusual behavior is probably the result of a neurological disease. While it's embarrassing for you, can you appreciate how difficult it must be for him to live with this every day of his life?

Ask your parents if you can go with your brother when he goes to see his doctor. Speak to one of the nurses or doctors who are caring for your brother. Before the meeting, write down some questions you have about your brother's condition. Ask his doctor how you can help your brother.

This isn't easy for you, your brother or for your parents. While Tourettes is a serious problem, there is no reason that your brother cannot lead a normal life with support from you and his family.


My best friend asked me to keep a secret before she would talk with me. I promised I wouldn't tell anyone.

Her secret is very serious and I feel like I should tell someone, but I don't want to destroy my friend's trust in me. Any advice?


There are times when secrets should not be kept. However, it's hard to answer your question without knowing your friend's secret. If your friend told you anything about her or others being abused, or about her wanting to hurt herself or someone else, a good friend would tell such a secret.

Without revealing the name of your friend, speak with a trusted adult. Perhaps that would be your parents, relative, teacher or a counselor at school. Tell them the secret without disclosing your friend's name and see what advice they give you.

Dr. Ramey Gregory Ramey, PhD, is a child psychologist and vice president for outpatient services at The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. For more of his columns, visit and join Dr. Ramey on facebook at

©2010 The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. Columns may be reproduced with the permission of Dayton Children's.


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