There are many arguments for why you shouldn’t tell a child everything, which I agree with. There are many arguments why you should, which I also agree with. Maybe you could strip a child of their innocence. Maybe a child could be taken because they aren’t aware of predators. Whatever reason, I do feel like going the extreme on either end is not beneficial to your child.

By going the extreme, in the cases I’ve seen, as an adult, they have a harder time accepting certain truths. Such as, there is such a thing as being too optimistic and trusting.

There are people out there wanting to do harm, just because. Or, they could be too pessimistic and untrusting. Although there are predators out there, it doesn’t mean everyone is out to get you.

For the sake of the article, let’s explore these options in two hypothetical cases. In both cases I will elaborate on the positive and negative effects it could have on the child based on multiple conversations had with friends who have led these lifestyles.

The sheltered child

Child A is raised in a home where the family may or may not have an open line of communication. Whatever the case certain things just aren’t talked about. That could be topics such as family issues, drugs and its effects,"the birds and the bees" and alcohol.

This child may not be aware of the character traits of a child molester or think that any interaction with an adult is acceptable because that information was never shared with them.

It could be argued that this lifestyle allows the child to be a child and live out their innocence without fear. It could also be argued from the parents’ side that these topics are just harder to explain to innocent ears.

Whatever the case, there are still children being kidnapped and molested by people the parents trust to be around their kids. When that kid is an adolescent or adult, the experiences and subjects that were avoided will inevitably be explored on their own. Some typical outcomes are, not being totally prepared for adult intimacy, being too excited when having their first alcoholic beverage or even not being totally aware of the sensitivity you should have when speaking about certain topics with others.

For example, a sheltered person talks about the social issues in the ghettos of Baltimore, MD. When all the person knows is the information given by the media, he/she will convey overall negative connotations on the subject. However, if that person is taught as a child/adolescent that not everything is absolute and you can’t take in vain all of the information given by the media, because of a thing called ulterior motive, they may do some research and sound a bit more intelligible when speaking on things they don’t come from.

The fact is there are people in the ghettos of Baltimore, MD who do want a way out for a better life. They just don’t believe they can attain it because of social/financial barriers.

Possibly, if their fathers weren’t being locked up or killed, and new opportunities for growth and acceptance were being introduced in the area, there would be more involved parenting and less gang affiliation. The worst thing you can do to a community is look at it as a lost cause because there’s always a reason that things are the way they are, whether it comes from the system or the mentality of the result of being looked down upon over a long period of time. We don’t want to sound like Trump with his overgeneralized statement calling Mexicans drug dealers, killers, and rapists.

The point is, when a person isn’t informed of the whole truth, their assumptions seem arbitrary and you hear it in their argument.

We want to prepare our kids for real-world conversations by just telling them the facts of the world like Atticus did to Scout in "To Kill a Mockingbird." Use your judgment, of course, to gauge what the child can handle, or when the right time is to bring up tough subjects. Kids are naturally curious sponges, so one would think the parents would want the child to be as well informed about subjects before they’re faced with them in the real world.

The worldly child

Child B is raised in a home where the line of communication is completely open, with or without respect to age. This child knows about the birds and the bees, has tried alcohol and possibly has shared some of their parent’s alcohol in social situations.

The child is even allowed at the table when adults are talking.

It could be argued that certain topics aren’t meant for young ears because they could instill fear or peak a naughty curiosity. However, this child is less likely to take candy from a stranger and will even yell for their parents in times of danger. When the child is an adult they’ll be more accepting of the world surrounding them, and may even come into being an “old soul.” This is on the positive spectrum that the child was given the right information at the right time, still had time to be a kid and learn from life’s lessons.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s the kid who is forced to learn the ways of the world at a young age and ultimately to face situations where he/she has to make decisions a child shouldn’t have to make.

Whether it has to do with upbringing or environmental factors, if bad things happen, he/she may have a negative outlook on the thing that caused them harm. The person may even be pessimistic about it in the future, without proper treatment after a traumatic incident.

For example, a kid never knows his father and is raised by a mother who did best she could in life with what was given to her. She lives a life that doesn’t set the best example for the kid, but she always tells him the truth. The child is aware of when there is no money, when it’s going well or not with the guys she’s dating and may become aware of ways of making money (legal or illegal) so that the mother doesn’t have to deal with anymore undeserving suitors.

Let’s be real, to make more money the kid would take the illegal route and most likely end up in jail.

However, if this kid is at least allowed to live his life free of his mother’s drama-filled life, he/she would make better decisions with the information given. The person would even elevate higher and say, “I love my mom. She did the best with the situations handed to her. She may not have always made the best decisions in life, but she loved me. Some people you just have to love them where they’re at and learn from their mistakes.”

The bottom line

Children are little adults. They sense the sad, the scary, the fun and the new. You are their first source of information about the world. Would you rather you let them know what to expect when faced with certain situations or let them figure it out on their own?

I hate to get dark, but say your daughter goes through something like what happened in 13 Reasons, because your relationship is so surface-based that you don’t talk about the real stuff. In any relationship communication is key. You should prepare your kids for the real-world, while still allowing them to be kids and have that innocence. When they are ready to know something they’ll tell you, you’ll figure it out or something will provoke the knowledge. Whatever the case, be pragmatic in your delivery.