At what age is it appropriate to bring children to light the darker side of human nature. In the first part of Becoming Naomi Leon Naomi is sheltered by her grandmother about her past and her parents. While well intentioned by her great grandmother I feel that we often work too hard in our efforts to suppress reality from young children. Personally I believe that it is much more important to a child’s development for them to know everything about their past, their family, where they came from, how they got to where they are now even if the details of those are less than ‘normal’. I don’t believe that you could harm a child’s sense of self with the truth. I do believe however that trying to shield the truth from a child will harm them even more down the road when they eventually find out about their past.
Even Naomi who adores her ‘Gram’ couldn’t help but be frustrated with her when she found out more about her mother and father after the visit from her mother. While the plot device of a visit from her mother may have propelled Naomi to further her search for her past I believe that there will always be some catalyst that will cause a child to search further for something that has been hidden from them. As an unintended consequence from trying to protect the child you may even find yourself being resented by them as they learn that you have tried to keep them in the dark.
I am curious to see how other people feel about when it is right to tell a child about their past. Do they have to ask you about it first or do you offer it up to them? At what age? I think that the novel by Ryan does a good job at trying to address these questions thus far and attempting to provide dialogue about child rearing.