February 06, 2008

 

Oh, BS!

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A recent Parenting magazine poll revealed 69 percent of respondents confessing to telling their children more than one little white lie a day.

The definition of "little white lie" is certainly open to interpretation, but this factoid has me a bit puzzled from both sides. First of all I'm taken aback by the sheer volume. Perhaps parents of older children can enlighten me as to why you'd have to be dishonest with your kid more than once a day. Am I naive to think I can avoid this as my son becomes more inquisitive with age? I'm of a mind that most white lies revolve around something akin to simplifying a complicated answer, but to me it seems that if your going to go that distance why not just give the kid the truth. If it happens to go over their head, well at least your integrity is intact. It seems that to take the easy way out fosters intellectual laziness, in both you and your child. Anyway, I'm not thinking I will never tell Max a white lie for convenience or to spare his feelings, etc. But exceeding one a day still strikes me as somewhat pathological. And while I realize kids can be an emotional and psychological handful at times, I certainly want to avoid making a habit of swaying him to my bidding through dishonesty.

One parent responding to the poll disagreed with propagating myths like Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, citing her own childhood devastation as cause for her disdain. I'm kinda "gimme a break" on that one, for my own memory serves up that it was no big deal for me to learn that it was my parents. I feel that any parent who can semi-skillfully instill their child with basic logic should likely see similar results. It is with older children that I can see the benefits of honesty-as-best-policy reaping the most rewards. If you don't want your teen to drink, smoke or fuck, don't offer vague moralizations. I intend to tell Max why I don't think it's good, not why Jesus doesn't or that Satan takes delight in swaying him toward error (fortunately, there are also parental rules to provide enforcement capacity).

Another polled parent related that her daughter's friend told her she didn't like the food she prepared for the kids. "My daughter was taught to act grateful even if she doesn't like what's served to her," was this mother's take. I'm not sure where being tactful enough to eschew speaking your mind and be grateful would be a white lie (she did say "act" grateful though, didn't she?), but yeah, the lippy brat probably wouldn't get invited over to our house much.

I'm interested to hear from the commentariat on this, especially youse moms and dads out there.
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Comments:
I hate lying to my girls and try to avoid it completely. If I don't want to answer, I'll just say that I don't want to. They don't really GAF what I've done, though occasionally they'll ask, and I'll tell cuz I figure if I can't be a good example, then I'll serve as a terrible warning. So far, so good. They aren't like me, yay!

I can't even think of white lies I might tell them. If I don't like something they're wearing and they ask, I'll say it's not my favorite or whatever. They do the same for me. Oh, I know: sometimes I'm depressed about my mom and I pretend to be in a good mood anyway. I guess that counts as lying, sort of.
 
As the parent of two teenagers, I can honestly say (no pun intended) that although the while lies have slacked off dramatically, and we try to be as honest as we can, we still have times when issues are glossed over or misdirected. Example, parents of daughters best friend get divorced because of wife cheating and finding someone else. Kids ask, hey Dad, did *** get divorced because she was cheating? My answer " I don't know what happened, and it most certainly is NONE of your business at 13 or 14. Or any other age for that matter. Whether this is a teaching moment or not, I feel it's more important not to gossip, or discuss things that are none of their business. Another Mother of one of the kids friends went to Rehab. Again, not the business of the kids, and some adults around here could use that same advice. Most everything is discussed openly and honestly with the kids, especially if it pertains to them, but there are still things that, IMHO, should be kept quiet.

On the other hand, when they want my opinion on campaign finance reform, or politics I don't hold back :)

Good luck with this O'Tim, it's a hell of a juggling act, done on a daily basis. The best adventure I ever had (parenting)
 
I can see situations when a little white lie is less harmful then the truth. Cody gives some good examples of when it is probably wiser to play dumb then tell the truth but the most obvious example i can think of when it is better to tell a little white lie is when you answer "Everything OK dad?" You may feel down, ill or just not on top of the world but you wouldn't want to worry your child with your own worries so you say, "sure, everythings fine Max."
Maybe this is the kind of little white lie the 69% were thinking of.
 
I don't know nothing about no white lies. When I lies to my kids, I make 'em worth it!
 
"I'm of a mind that most white lies revolve around something akin to simplifying a complicated answer"

Nah. When I was very small, I thought saltine crackers were "cookies" because it made life easier for mom if I thought that. Or at least she expected it to.
 
if I can't be a good example, then I'll serve as a terrible warning

That is truly an awesome foundation to stand on, Miz UV!

Cody, I don't see your situation as having any dishonesty at all. For the most part you really DON'T know what happened to cause those people's trouble, and you made a teaching moment out of it by showing your kids about gossip. IAW Lucy that masking ill feelings is often the best course, but again to me that comes across more as tact than a white lie.

Eat at Jefe's - Home of the WHOPPER!

Joe, this is along the lines of what I'm talking about, though perhaps I have something more sinister in mind, like saying there will be a red ring in the pool around anyone who pees or telling your son that he's going to get hairy palms for jacking off.
 
it's been interesting, keeping things honest. my oldest is 25, and the youngest is 15, with a 21-year old in between. it wasn't hard being truthful with my kids, after being raised in my mom's very uptight catholic world. there were plenty of little white lies and total falsehoods when i was growing up. when i had my kids, i went with telling the truth. the only times that has been a challenge is when they get older-and they ask if you did something or other. as a young san francisco deadhead girl, there was some dabbling...you know. i have found some creative ways to discuss
the things i did with them, and trying to turn it into a lesson-of-sorts. in absolute honesty, though-there are some things they will never know. besides, they'd never believe their old mom was ever remotely cool. ;)
 
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