Here’s a snippet of our dinner conversation last night:
Caleb: “What happens if you swallow an orange pip?”
Me: “Maybe an orange tree will grow inside you…”
B: “… The branches will come out of your mouth and the roots will come out of your bottom.”
Caitlyn (whispers): “It’s not true; they’re teasing.”
Caleb: “Won’t seed come out when I go to the toilet? And how will it grow – there’s no sun or air or soil.”
B: It will get its food from your tummy. Maybe we can plant you in the backyard for some fresh air and sunlight.”
Caleb (worried look on his face): “Will it really, mum?”
Me: “We’ll just have to wait and see… Just think, if a tree does grow from your tummy, we will never need to buy oranges from the supermarket again!”
I’m always banging on to our kids about telling the truth. But, if the truth be told, I lie – with alarming regularity – to the kids.
“Mum, can we go out for hot chocolate?”
Me: The cafe is closed today. (At 10am on a Friday morning? Really??)
“Mummy, why does so-and-so not have a daddy?”
Me: I’m not sure. (Although I do know but want to spare them the gory details.)
“Mummy, where did all my paintings from pre-school go?”
Me: Hmm… where could they be? Maybe they’re somewhere around the house. (Yes, in the recycling bin. There’s only so much “artwork” I can hoard!)
Bending the truth, lies of omission, deception, fabricating the truth, telling half-truths, fibbing, being dishonest… we’re all guilty of this! Just think about social constructs like Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny…
So when is it okay to lie to your kids?
I tend to tell fibs in these situations: when a little white lie won’t hurt anyone, in social situations when the truth is too brutal and – in the interest of full disclosure – to protect my sanity!
I remember a few years ago when the kids were younger… They loved going to the park everyday but convincing them that it was “going home time” was turning out to be a regular nightmare. They never wanted to leave. The tears and tantrums multiplied.
“The park ranger is coming around to close the park now.” That’s the lie I fed them – and they were young enough to swallow it, thank God!
I know I’ll eventually stop telling white lies to my kids.
It will probably have less to do with being honest with them and more to do with the fact that they will be able to see right through me!
So tell me, do you think it’s okay to lie to children or do you believe in always telling the truth? If you do you lie to your kids, what’s it usually about? What lies were you told when you were a child?