If a person is having difficulties, what is the correct approach to telling parents?

We don't wish to cause our parents anguish in any way (Kibbud av va'em), so there is a side to say we should avoid telling them unless absolutely necessary. Yet, if they are bound to find out, it will cause them distress if they feel one doesn't feel comfortable coming to them with one's problems.

We also don't want to offend them (Ish imo v'aviv tira'u), so there is a side to say tell them the moment one feels they would have insisted one should tell them (especially if they were going to find out anyway). Yet, there is what to consider about not "bothering" one's venerated parents with one's problems (especially if they have problems of their own).

Some extra thoughts

  • a parent will pray for their children with more kavana than anyone else (source - common sense), so the child would benefit from telling them, so that they can pray for them and their situation. They would also be the first to rush to help without any desire for compensation, and would do so with all their strength. Unfortunate exceptions aside of course.
  • a child's natural instinct is to "cry for their mother", and a parent's instinct is to protect their child, which might suggest the answer is yes, a child should davka go to their parents when they have problems (everyone is getting what they need). If the halacha is the other way, is it saying anything about these instincts?

Concrete scenarios: Child develops a health concern. Child finds out their town is under threat from a possible enemy attack. Child loses a lot of money. Crime rates go up in the child's area. Child fails an important exam that might mean they fail their course. Child gets arrested.

EDIT: I just saw in "Honouring Parents in Halacha" by Rabbi Tzureil Ta'aseh (Feldheim) pp.67 3:

Another aspect of honoring one's parents and being in awe of them is being very careful not to cause them any distress, whether actively or passively. Therefore it is best not to tell them bad news that is not important for them to know, even if it does not affect them directly.

Relevant, interesting, although not enough to answer this question.

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    Parents can forgo their right to be honored/feared. If a parent wants you to distress them by updating them about your life, that would seem to apply.
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 6, 2022 at 20:56
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    I doubt you'll get a definitive halachic answer. Rabbi Chaim Hezekiah Medini, from 19th-century Jerusalem, writes: "No blessing is recited for fulfilling the mitzvah of honoring parents, because you never know if you have fulfilled it properly. [And saying a blessing in vain is prohibited.]" [Sdei Chemed v6, Berakhot 1:16] Commented Dec 6, 2022 at 23:33
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    There may be some cases where keeping them in the dark helps ... but in a lot of cases, the truth will come out sooner or later, and in a much worse way.
    – Shalom
    Commented Dec 7, 2022 at 0:05
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    How can there be a tzad to say that doing the opposite of what your parents want is kibbud?
    – Heshy
    Commented Dec 7, 2022 at 14:53
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    @RabbiKaii See Rama (YD 240:25) who rules a son does not have to obey his parents' wishes when deciding on a marriage partner: "וכן אם האב מוחה בבן לישא איזו אשה שיחפוץ בה הבן – אין צריך לשמוע אל האב (מהרי"ק שורש קס"ז)". The great majority of poskim extend this halacha to a daughter as well (e.g., Tzitz Eli'ezer 13:78).
    – Fred
    Commented Dec 7, 2022 at 19:27


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