18 March 2009

Momversation: Do you lie to your kids?


Mindy Roberts of The Mommy Blog runs with a topic brought up by a recent Redbook article: Do you lie to your children? Rebecca (Girl's Gone Child) and I answer: YES. (Hopefully the video adequately explains why.) What about you? Do you think that lying to our kids is just part of real-life parenting, or are we treading on shaky moral ground?

Bonus quiz: Which topics come up in this episode of Momversation?

a. Santa Claus
b. September 11
c. Transvestite hookers
d. All of the above

Leave your comments on the Momversation page for this episode, or join in on related conversations in the forums: Is the Easter Bunny real at your house? and What do you do when you catch your child in a lie?

Your comments

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Santa claus, easy out. We simply ask if they believe, if it is yes. then yes, he exists.
9/11, we are completely honest. From our 9 year old, down to our 4 year old. They need to know that there are people that feel that Americans are not good, and that even thought we feel safe, we still need to becareful.
Transvestite hookers. Our girls have lesbian aunts. So, yes, we would be honest about transvestite hookers. They are aware that men, dress up as women, and women, sometimes appear like men. They are also aware that some people sleep with others for money.

I completely respect the decision to lie to your kids, but for me personally I don't. I tell my daughter about Santa Claus, but always in terms that are not a lie -- kind of along the lines of how Ma explained it in the Little House books. That's as close as I come to lying. I think it's important for her to know that I am a source of truth in the world. Other people might tease or outright lie, but what Mama says is true.

The thing is, Katherine, I totally agree with you. My kids' trust is sacred to me, which begs the question: then why would I ever lie to them?

If you watch the video, you'll see that the kind of "lying" I'm talking about is more about not telling absolutely everything, or, put another way, using "age-appropriate language." I would never outright lie to my children about something they want to understand (if we ran into a transvestite hooker in the neighborhood, for example). But, in many cases, I don't feel they need the level of detail older kids or adults would get.

I strongly believe in trying to answer my child's questions honestly. I want her to be honest with me about stuff that is hard to talk about and the only way you do that is by being able to do it yourself.
Ever tried telling them that you don't know how to answer that question right now? It's completely honest and when they ask again you'll be (hopefully) a bit better prepared.

In our house, we focus on the true story of Saint Nicholas (and that some of his nicknames are St. Nick and Santa Claus). The children know that *anyone* can be a "Santa" by giving a gift in secret. They each (young and old) receive gifts "from Santa" and sometimes the older children help pick out Santa gifts for the younger ones.

I've never lied to my kids (not even lies of omission, I don't think, but perhaps). My son is four years old now and asks awesome questions, and I try my best to answer them honestly. It's caused quite a bit of heartache in some cases, and has made it harder on me than it probably needs to be, but I've seen it through so far.

I'm actually a bit scared about this, as I'm worried that one day I'm going to cave and lie about *something*. I guess the best thing to do then is to just admit it later, but I'm not sure.

I'm not trying to hold myself up as an example - actually, the whole thing seems a bit unnatural to me. I've also got to add that I had big issues with my parents lying to me as a kid. I worry sometimes that I'm going too far the other way for my kids' own good.

Interesting topic!

My question is related but is more about "who is right" when it comes to lies/creative truths. I'm not a fan of the Santa/Easter Bunny/Tooth Fairy lies, but my wife is because, in her opinion, it's the way childhood is fun. The little things we argue about, like outfits and sunscreen, seem to pass, but these childhood lies seem to linger with no resolution. Luckily I think we'll get through this Easter without much thought about it (our daughter is not quite two) but by Christmas we'll have to have our acts together, and we're no where close.

(And any video that weaves all three of the choices above is pretty good in my book! I don't think I have seen "transvestite hookers" in a video in a while...)

I am also the type of mom who rarely ever "lies" to my kids. I treat them as my friends and try to let them know everything as far as our family is concerned.

There are cases though, that I believe that they are too young to understand and I feel they don't have the maturity and wisdom yet such as marital or financial issues that we parents encounter from time to time.


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