That statistic makes me think of a song by David Crosby that says lying to a child is like “setting a trap for something wild.” I remember listening to that song and feeling guilty about times I short-changed the truth when talking to my son.
On the other hand, how do you tell a three-year-old about the reason for a divorce? When his dad and I separated, my son’s father told him it was because we were fighting all the time. That was truthful but made me feel too much like a failure; instead, I told him we just realized we were better off being “friends” than married.
Now that I look back on it, that was a kinder, gentler way of saying… nothing, I guess. But it made me feel better to say it.
I’ve tried, at least, to be as truthful as possible in the years since that separation occurred. I think the more you lie to a child, the more permission you’re giving them to lie to you. So if you are going to tell your kid to be truthful, you really need to model that.
And if you want to teach your children how to deal with sleazy workplaces or bad relationships, you need to tell them telling the truth takes courage, and show them why. It may be important to be diplomatic and careful, but there are ways to do that without losing your soul.
We may not know how, exactly. But we know it’s what we need to shoot for. And what we want our kids to shoot for, too.
Good stuff to read:
Age by Age Guide to Lying by Sarah Gonser