There must be quite a few parents who subscribe to the belief that one shouldn't tell children "grown up" problems, even when those problems directly affect their lives. I've never personally seen any parents like this, but they must exist, considering what a constant plot point it is in lower grade books. This is Bessie's situation. Her father took her and her brother away from their mother, to another state, then left them with his sisters. At least the adults have the grace to feel sheepish about it when the truth is finally made known.