6/26/2011

White Lies


"The Easter Bunny will be here soon!"

"You better be good- Santa is watching!"

"Oh, we can't go to the park today, It's closed!"

"No, you can not have ice cream- they ran out!"

If you are a parent, you may have said one or more of these statements at least once while raising your child. I am notorious for "making up" excuses on the drop of a dime as to why we can or cannot do something- and most of the time it is a little fib.

Yet, I always preach to my children not to tell a lie. Where do you draw the fine and line- and how do you teach your children between the two?

What breaks my heart is when I have to tell a white lie although I am uncertain of it's consequences. For instance, my five year old has been suffering from bad separation anxiety and I am consistently telling him that "Mommy will never leave you." Obviously I will NEVER volunteer and leave my son (or any of my children for that matter). However, it is the thought that lingers in the back of my mind that says "Hey, what happens if something does happen to you? Something horrible. How would he feel then? Would he feel betrayed? Lied to? Empty?"

I chose my white lie because sometimes the truth can be scary for a young child. Imagine saying "Look, I know you're upset because you couldn't find mommy, but I am here now! I will try to be there for you always, but you never know what can happen!" I just got a shiver down my spine- imagine what that would sound like to a 5 year old!

Then why do we do it? Is it because it is easier for us to come up with something false and escape explaining the truth? Is it how we carry on tradition- the way we were unknowingly raised?

Do white lies really hurt?

I believe that in essence it is important to teach your children to be honest, and tell the truth. Sometimes  a lie is to protect your child from emotional damage; sometimes it is because it is easier to explain than the truth. Teaching your child between the two will be very dependent on the age of your child or on his/her maturity level.

Lies are just that: lies! Saying that his or her brother spilled the milk when it was actually the child in question is obviously a lie and not something that you want to teach your child. But explaining to them that Santa was never real and that mommy and daddy wanted to keep the "spirit of Christmas" alive may help differentiate between the two. White lies are intended to be harmless, and rarely hurt anyone.

For two years I got away with telling my children that the Ice Cream Man was in fact the Music Man and that he went street to street to share with us his beautiful music. Then one day my children noticed that the Music Man stopped and gave out ice cream. I tired.

What is your thoughts on white lies? What have you told your children before? How have you handled explaining the difference between the white lies and real lies?

1 comment:

  1. Ooo... pretty good post! Little white lies are an easy way to get kids to cooperate and even for fun (i.e. Santa & the gang.) My oldest learned to read due to my telling him that certain stores were closed so we couldn't go in - at 2.5 y.o., he figures out the difference between "Open" and "Closed" in writing!

    In your "Mommy will never leave you" scenario, I just don't know - I can see your worry. But, what would happen if you DID tell your kid that a Mack truck could possibly run you down? I think the anxiety would be undue wear and tear on their emotions.

    There are judgment calls that we have to make as parents. My oldest's father died of cancer when he was only 6. As soon as we were told that death was inevitable, we told our son. He had to have time, in my opinion, to get used to the idea. He needed to be able to ask questions, discuss fears, etc.

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Aimee ~Classified: Mom

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