When will parents sport the sign that says, “I taught my kid how to lie”? On the Internet we've been exposed to photos of parents using unusual punishments to correct their child's "bad behavior". One father had his adolescent daughter hold a sign in public that read, "I lied to my dad". Though I understood the reasoning behind wanting to humiliate your child into changing that behavior, many comments online suggested he was too weak with his punishment or that he was being a monster...comments came from all ends of the judgment spectrum. When one person would dare to speak out in defense of "not knowing the whole story", that person would be shot down with a line like "lying isn't acceptable no matter what and needs to be stopped immediately!"
And those were the comments that got me thinking; Don't most parents set the example of lying on a regular basis and label it "tradition" or "innocent" when called on it?
Let’s really think about it...
The Easter Bunny
The Tooth Fairy
The Pot of Gold at the end of a Rainbow
The dog ran away...
Or how about: "Don't answer that phone, I don't want them to know we are home.”” Tell them we already gave at the office” or "I told them we had other plans.".
We tell our children to lie when we say things like, "If you don't want to play with her, we can tell her you aren't allowed to come over." Or "Don't spit out your food/refuse a gift/turn up your nose...just pretend you like it or you will offend the person who gave it to you." or "Don’t tell Daddy we had ice cream, he’d be sad that we didn’t bring him any."
We teach children that lying makes people feel good (or better) and avoids hurt feelings. We teach children that lying keeps us from confrontation or the disappointment of the truth, and we tell them that in certain cases, lying actually makes people happy! But in our defense, we do change the names of our lies to protect the innocent. We call them fibs, or myths or "little white lies" (because that’s the color the 'good guys' and the angels wear.) Yet we forget that by changing the name of what we are doing, in essence, we are creating another lie.
So why in the world do we think as parents that as soon as our child lies, they are being bad or vindictive or naughty...when in actuality, if we talked to them, we may find out that they were just trying to follow our lead, make us happy or keep from disappointing us!
Perhaps they thought, as they've been taught, that "little white lies" are more of a gift than a crime and actually, this whole "I can humiliate my child into being a better person" myth is all just another big lie.