Can we take an honest moment and talk about the lies we tell our children? (Today’s Honest Moment is brought to you by the letters O and MaGosh.) Let’s not get critical or self-righteous, now, we’re all in this together. We’ve all told the lies….
“Mommy, do you like my picture?”
“Oh… yes, honey… it’s a beautiful picture of a… um… of a beautiful picture! The prettiest picture I’ve ever seen.” (Bull crap… you can’t even tell which way is up and you just lied to your child.)
“Mommy, where do babies come from?”
“The Baby Store.” Or “The stork.” Or “Heaven.” (But they really DO come from Heaven! Don’t kid yourself, we all see what you did there… you cheated and left out the stuff that we all shove under the rug! Lie by omission!)
“Mommy, can I get a pony?”
“We’ll see.” Or “Maybe when you’re older.” (Woman up, Mama! You know darn well that child of yours, yes the one who eats his boogers and pees on your flowers outside, he isn’t ever getting a pony!)
So why do we tell the lies? 1) our children are too young for the truth, 2) we don’t want to hurt their feelings or wreck their confidence, 3) we are putting off an inevitable battle over something they want, 4) we are taken off guard by their question, 5) we are human.
I do the lies, too. And I do them well. “Were you and Dad talking about me?” Nope, mind your own business or get better at eavesdropping. “Am I getting a new bike for my birthday??” Not a chance… do you KNOW how much a new bike costs?? (Meanwhile, new bike is hiding in the garage under a sheet until the birthday party.) We say the lies, and we say them well.
But what if you find yourself raising children that lie? For the record, all kids lie. Period. What I’m referring to now is the habitual liars. The ones that lie about everything no matter how big, no matter how small. The ones that lie, not just to cover up a wrong-doing, but to make themselves look important, to fit in, or just to have something to say. The ones that lie so convincingly that you may not find out the truth for days, weeks, or years… the elaborate story-tellers, the “I swear to God”ers, the “I really promise this time”ers.
These are my kids. The future car salesmen of America reside in my home. They have literally convinced me that my own eyes have deceived me at times. I have walked away confused, befuddled, and scratching my head, knowing that I watched them commit the crime but finding myself questioning what I had witnessed only moments ago. Their craftiness is uncanny. If they turn out to be poor salesmen, they’ll have a promising future in politics.
The husband and I have tried to focus our efforts on this particularly frustrating behavior over the last few months. To do this, I’ve tried desperately to cut out any and all white lies I tell. Model the behavior, be the change, right? This is why my kids now know where babies come from (http://www.mommyhood-shivonne-costa.squarespace.com/the-blog/2015/05/let-me-tell-ya-bout-birds-and-bees.html)! And when they ask a question that catches me off guard, I now try to tell them I’ll have to get back to you on that or I’ll explain that to you when you’re a little older.
So far, so good. We’ve still had to deal with their lying, obviously. We’re not magicians! But there’s been a definite improvement with one and a moderate improvement with the other. I was contemplating this proud parenting moment in the shower this morning when all of a sudden, a HUGE problem smacked me directly in the face
You guys, what the heck am I gonna do about Santa Claus?
Yes, I do realize this is July. And yes, I will worry about this for the next 6 months.
The biggest white lie we as parents tell our kids lasts for at least 4 weeks, requires props and staging elaborate scenes, and has global ramifications if word gets out! Will the Bigs tell the Littles the truth and ruin their holiday delusions as well? Will they tell their friends at school, causing angry parents to pelt me with snowballs when I pick them up at the end of the day? Will the kids be angry that we’ve lied to them for the last 3 Christmases? Will Christmas lose its special charm to them? No more pictures with Santa will be wanted… no more cookies and reindeer food will be set out… no more night before Christmas stories will be told….
“Mommy, is Santa really real?”
“What, the fat old man that creeps to our house late and night, shimmies his way down our closed-up chimney, comes and looks in on you while you’re sleeping, sees everything you do and knows everywhere you go, and eats your beloved cookies? Yes, honey, he’s real.”
This is why my daughter is terrified of intruders.
Guys, I seriously need your help. I really don’t know what to do on this one. I have one that will be in 4th grade (maybe he’s ready?) and the other that will be in 2nd grade (obviously still well within the “believing” zone), the toddler (who plays with a Santa app on my phone all year long and spontaneously sings Jingle Bells), and the baby (who is just as happy blowing bubbles with his spit as he would be learning about Santa Claus). Do we continue the sweetest lie we could tell them, or do we pull the plug on the big S.C. and threaten their lives if they tell their classmates?