Thursday, January 12, 2012

Do You Lie To Your Kids?

"If you don't eat all your broccoli, you won't grow big like your daddy."  Are there good lies?  Or, rather, are little white lies okay?  On The Today Show yesterday, Ann Curry talked to two parenting experts about just this.  When is it alright to lie to these future adults?  Rachel Fishman Feddersen, editorial director at says 85% of moms in a recent survey have told these little white lies to their children to get out of social obligations.

I am very upfront and truthful with my children.  When we passed an ambulance at the scene of a messy car crash last summer, my son asked what was going on.  I explained to him that two cars crashed and someone maybe got hurt and they were going to go to the hospital where a doctor was sure to make the person feel better.  This was my way of being very direct with him, rather than saying, "Oh everything is just dandy...everyone is fine and life is a bed of roses.  Aren't those lights pretty!"  Though my directness probably led to his obsession and fascination with ambulances and hospital over the next several months.

But I admit to stretching the truth, too.  "Because it's getting dark soon and everyone is going to go home and eat dinner and go to bed."  That's how I explain we're leaving the park.  That's kind of a lie, isn't it?  Not everyone is going home to eat dinner and go to bed.  Some kids may stay longer.  Some kids may get to go out for ice cream.  Or how about a lie versus a probability.  "Get down from there!  If you climb on that you WILL fall and hurt your head and HAVE to go to the emergency room!"  When sure, there is a chance the child will fall and a chance he will hurt his head and yet another chance he might end up in the ER...but it's not a fact.

How about with Santa Claus?  The Easter Bunny?  The Milk Fairy?  The Milk Fairy? Yes, that's a lie I told. It's a fairy I made up.  The milk fairy comes in the middle of the night to take away your sippy of milk and leaves you a really groovy big boy cup of water.  Then every night after that, you drink water from your cup.  No more sippies at night.  Or how about the endless begging and pleading to watch their favorite cartoon which you have grown to despise.  "Oh no, sweetheart, doesn't look like Dora is on right now.  Doesn't look like it's on again until tomorrow.  Let's go paint!"  When secretly it's on now and for the next two hours on every damn cartoon channel and you're willing to go to many lengths to make sure it is not to be seen.

I believe we should be raising our kids to understand honesty and be a good person.  To tell the truth because it feels good and they know they are doing the right thing.  After all, we don't want to teach them to lie which will turn into stealing which will turn into them doing drugs and probably worse.  We don't want them to end up behind bars.  But sometimes the truth is stretched to bring magic into our kids lives or to make ours a little easier in the face of an imminent tantrum.  Of course, we can't forget that these little kids are actually very smart and intuitive too and can often see through our fibs.  What are the little white lies you tell your kids to get through your day?

**If you are a mom-or a person- who has gone through life without telling even a little white lie to help you along, we'd love to hear from you.  Please show us the way!