Sense & Sensitivity

Daughter Shares Secrets; Mom Spills to Friends

DEAR HARRIETTE: My teenage daughter told me something revealing about a couple of her friends at school. We have an excellent rapport, which is why she shared this with me. A week later, I was at a party with a group of friends, and, after a few drinks, I told one of the moms what my daughter had told me. I didn’t mean to share what turned out to be confidential information, but I did it, and now all hell has broken loose. It’s my fault. I apologized to my daughter for talking about something that she shared with me privately, but I feel horrible. I don’t want to lose my daughter’s trust. What can I do? -- Broken Confidence

DEAR BROKEN CONFIDENCE: Promise your daughter that you will never betray her trust again -- unless it is a life-or-death situation. The "life-or-death" caveat is important because you are still the parent. If a revelation is unsafe, you may need to address it. But generally, let your daughter know that you will agree to keep information private between you. This is the only way to get her to continue talking to you about her feelings and friend dynamics. It may take time for her to tell you more secrets. You need to be patient.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

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