At their young ages, my boys still feel that they can come to me with secrets. They still trust me to keep their secrets, and when they have a secret burning inside of them that someone told them that they just have to get out, they know that they can share it with me. In a nutshell, they aren't teenagers yet.
I have to be careful with this, though. I have to clarify before hearing the secret my rules of nondisclosure. When the boys, usually Jack, come to me with, "If I tell you a secret do you promise you won't tell?" I have to say to them first, "Is someone in danger? Is someone going to get hurt? Is someone going to hurt someone else? Is someone doing something bad?"
If the answer to each of these questions is "No," then I agree to keep the secret. They know that if they answer "Yes" to any of the questions, that once I hear the secret I might have to tell someone else to protect the bearer of the secret. The boys have been fine with this arrangement so far because I've never had to tell the secrets they've shared with me. As I said before, they're not teenagers yet.
Jack came to me recently with a secret regarding a girl that he is close to and I won't share her name so as not to reveal his and her secret. When he told me that she told him a secret but it was too good to keep and he had to tell someone, I agreed to hear it and asked him my questions. He answered "No" to each of them (whew!) and I promised I wouldn't tell anyone.
"She met Joe Jonas and he asked her to marry him and her mom signed a contract saying she could marry him now even though she's not old enough."
The "she" he is talking about is ten years old.
I guess I need to have a talk with Jack about my questions and what it means for someone to be in danger or whether or not someone is going to get hurt. Because I think marrying Joe Jonas would qualify as imminent danger. Have you seen those pants he wears?