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#1 of 17 Old 02-13-2003, 03:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Last night we are at my in-laws house for dinner, and afterwards SIL and I were eating a few chocolates out of a box they had. Ds came over and wanted to see what I was doing, and then of course wanted a bite. I gave him some bites of the one I was having (it was big), and then said "ok, that's enough chocolate, let's put it away." We put the lid on and put it back in the pantry. Well, of course he wanted more, and wasn't throwing a tantrum, but was trying to climb up to them, kind of whining wanting them, stomping his feet a little, etc. I kept telling him that we had had enough chocolate and that we couldn't have any more tonight, that it wasn't good for him to have too much, he could have some of this instead, etc. etc. Then SIL and FIL start saying to him "oh, they're all gone, we ate them all, there are no more left." And they kept telling him this over and over. It made me really uncomfortable, and I didn't really know how or if I should address this. I just kept telling ds the truth, and trying to distract him, and eventually he got over it. But I was bothered for two reasons:

1 - He's not stupid. He saw the box full of chocolates, and helped me put it back in the pantry.
2 - I felt like I was letting someone lie to him without stepping in, and that he was already starting to learn that he can't always trust what FIL and SIL tell him.

And it just got me thinking about how often I hear people say these kinds of things to little kids. Am I just naive, and this is one of those things that you say you're never going to do but then end up doing? I feel like my parents were always honest with me, even when it was harder to do so, but I always trusted them as a result. I try really hard to always be honest with ds, even if he doesn't understand what I'm saying, and even if it's the harder thing to do.

And then I started thinking about Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, etc., which I plan on doing. Am I just being hypocritical, or do you think there is a difference? I feel like there is a difference, but can't explain really what it is.

Would you have said anything to FIL and SIL?
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#2 of 17 Old 02-13-2003, 03:15 PM
 
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Hmm, good topic!

I think it is always important to treat kids with respect. And I do think that lying to them is very wrong. But I also must admit that I consider there to be various "degrees" of lying. We all tell "little white lies" from time to time and I think that in certain circumstances it's the right thing to do.

Your son will one day have to understand the difference between a "good" lie and a "bad" lie, but at his tender age he's far from that. In which case I think it was wrong of your IL's to say what they did. Putting myself in that situation, I would feel uncomfortable about it, too. Besides, that was not a situation where lying was the best thing for your son's feelings and understanding of the situation, because he was old enough to understand that he can't have everything, and you are able to explain to him why. Lying was the "easy way out" for your IL's, so that's why I think it was wrong.

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#3 of 17 Old 02-13-2003, 04:11 PM
 
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It really irks me when people do this- and it does happen a lot. I just correct the adult, I don't bother saying "we don't lie to our children" or whatever, but I would just have said "No, the chocolates are not gone, they are in the cupboard for another day" and then tried to distract him. Usually people will follow parents lead- especially if you flat out contradict them.
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#4 of 17 Old 02-13-2003, 08:15 PM
 
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You know this is one fo my issues I feel strongly about. I used to believe like 95% of people that "white lies" were no big deal. Then through some self discovery I realized that on a deep spiritual level they were damaging my integrity and I swore to myself that I would not lie, about anything. I think it is very important to be completely honest with kids, and others. Now this doesn't mean I tell everyone anything, I just don't lie. So I can still choose to say "I am not comfortable sharing that information," or for children that they are not old enough to be told certain things, but I don't lie. I had a mom who was that way, and I trust my mom immensely, and I also didn't lie to her even as a teenager, I would hide things, but not lie, so I know it pays off. My mom also told us the truth about Santa and the tooth fairy. When we were little she would play along with the festivities, but when we got old enough to actually ask if they were real she told us that they were imaginary. That is what I plan to do with my son. I feel that each lie damages a part of our spirit even if we don't feel it at the time. I know alot of people disagree with me on this one. My husband still tells white lies sometimes, and I tell him he just better not put me in a situation where I have to because I won't. As for how to handle others telling your kids lies I would agree with Khrisday that if you set the lead others hopefully will follow. I swear some people just act like kids are dumb and don't give them credit. My son is 17 months, and he is incredibly insightful and intelligent. They know when they are being told a lie. Hopefully your FIL and SIL will come around, or else he will start to distrust what they say.
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#5 of 17 Old 02-13-2003, 08:54 PM
 
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I'm also upset by the number of times I hear other parents lie to their kids to get them to do something (or to get them to stop doing something). I won't lie (hee hee) and say I've NEVER done this, but it's very, very rare, and usually when I'm at my wits' end! But I know I have at least one friend who lies regularly in order to manipulate her child's behavior. I think it is wrong not only because it is disrespectful, but it is really robbing the child of the opportunity to learn appropriate behavior and limits. This friend used to regularly tell her child that a playground was closed, or that candy had "dirt" or "bugs" on it, rather than just saying, "No, sweetie, we don't have time for the playground today," or whatever. Well, this kid, now four, cannot take no for an answer, and the mom seems incapable of saying no, and she has no idea what to do because the child is too old for a lot of the lies she used to tell - after all, she can see other kids in the "closed" playground!!!

I figure once a kid cathces onto a parent's lies, it's all downhill from there.
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#6 of 17 Old 02-13-2003, 09:03 PM
 
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Indeed, this bothers me also. I'm dumbfounded by the ease with which such lies present themselves. That people STILL can't seem to put together that when you lie to kids, you teach them that it's ok to lie. I realize that they think they are pulling one over on the child (all in an effort to distract) but again, when you insult a child's intellegence, you send them yet another mixed message. ARG! I do similar to what Khrisday does... usually say something light like, "hey, are you trying to insult my son's intellegence?" Then, I simply explain once more to my son what the real deal is... this usually works well with my family because they are all supportive of our parenting and can take a light joke about such things--usually it's just ignorance with not so sinister intentions afterall.

momatheart - I too have recently come to the same conclusion! I liked what you had to say about lies damaging the soul... for me, it's all about karma.

On a side note, we recently removed the TV from our home. My son wasn't addicted per se, but did enjoy watching more than I was comfortable with, and so I was prepared for a bit of a battle. I did wonder about telling him that the TV was broken, or something of the like but just didn't feel good about it. Instead, I told him the truth: that we had put the TV away for awhile so that Mommy, Daddy and DS could spend more time together. He not only understood me, he was completely fine with it. I then didn't have the extra burden of later questions such as, "when is the TV going to be fixed?" I was never so glad that I hadn't resorted to lying to him. Honestly, I wondered how I ever thought that it was the better option?????

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#7 of 17 Old 02-14-2003, 02:20 AM
 
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I think that Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy are imaginary play. Just like you aren't lying when you pretend that your child is a mouse eating cheese (very big in my house these days!), we can treat Santa and friends the same way.

I hate when parent's lie to kids. I sometimes go through great complicated explanations to my 16 month old to avoid the simple easy lie. It takes a lot of work, but I think it is important for kids to trust what their parents say.

In response to how to deal with situations like the one you've described, I agree that people follow the lead of the parent. I suspect your ILs were just trying to help, and that if you gently corrected them (oh no grandma, we just put the chocolate away for another day), they'll get the picture after a couple times.
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#8 of 17 Old 02-14-2003, 02:55 AM
 
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I do what you do, khrisday. My mother-in-law is a big one for lying in the ways mentioned, and I just blatantly tell my son the truth after she lies. She usually pretends to be surprised when I say the truth, as if she believed the lie was the truth! It really irks me!
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#9 of 17 Old 02-14-2003, 04:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm glad to know that this is as important to others as it is to me. I think being honest with your children is a crucial foundation to the kind of relationship you will have as they get older.

And I think I will do what you suggested, Khrisday, next time it comes up. I was just so shocked that I didn't know what to say, but now I will be a little more prepared.

I will admit that I am not always truthful with everyone (always with dh and ds though), and I actually am becoming increasingly uncomfortable with it, as I see my actions through the eyes of my ds, and I don't always like what I see.

Regarding "white lies" (what does that mean anyway), I still think it's a fine line. I mean, I will continue to tell my inlaws that the reason we don't want to go to their vacation home this particular weekend is because ds hasn't been sleeping well there and it sucks for us to be up all night (which is true), but won't tell them that it's also because I can't stand to hear MIL and SIL bicker the whole time (the bigger reason why we won't go). Because there is nothing to be gained by doing this. We have had these talks before, and nothing changed, so why create another needless family drama?

But I don't want to tell someone I'm busy if I'm not, just because I don't want to do something. This is not the example I want to set for ds. Like Embee mentioned, even more so to just make my life easier in the long run (no follow up lies needed), but also to be a person of stronger moral character.

And yes, imaginary play. Thank you for putting words to what I was thinking. I will tell my children the truth about Santa Claus et. al. when they are old enough to ask (I remember my parents doing this, my sister and I were probably around 5 or so when it happened), but until then it's like a fun magical game that we play.

I continue to be shocked at the lies I hear parents tell their kids, but this was the first time it happened with ds. This is important enough to me to say something the next time it happens. Because the other example I want to set for ds is that you stand up for what you believe in, even when it may be uncomfortable for others around you. And being the little buddha baby that he is, I am being forced to learn this lesson myself, through him. He is indeed a wise teacher, that little guy.
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#10 of 17 Old 02-14-2003, 10:56 AM
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Yep, I'm also shocked at the way people lie to their kids. How could they possibly do so, and then expect their kids to be truthful to them?? Do they think the kids are stupid, and won't ever realize or find out that what they were told was a lie? And how well do they think their kids are going to trust them, once the kids realize their parents lie to them, even if only about "trivial" matters? I feel very strongly about this matter, and have a "no lying of any type" policy towards dd (and everyone else, for that matter - as for what you mentioned, oceanbaby, about excuses for not going to the inlaws, that's not a lie, but merely "putting the best face on the truth" - it's true, but not the whole truth, and you're probably not close enough with the inlaws to warrant giving the whole truth).
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#11 of 17 Old 02-14-2003, 02:44 PM
 
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My mom is notoriuos for that exact sort of lie. For some reason she insist on taking the girls Christmas shopping with us and then eeling them the presents aren't for them. LIE!! or saying somehting is all gone when it obviously isn't. LIE! I tell her streight that we don't lie. With the Christmas gifts I then told the girls These are for you but you may not have them until Christmas. With treat being "Gone" I tell them hthat they are not gone but that still may not have any.

I don't think she understands that A) she is lying or that B) she is robbing them of the opritunuity to learn self control, patentience whatever when she trys to soften things with a lie. Instead they are only learning that GM is not to be trusted because she lies and that lying must be OK.

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#12 of 17 Old 02-14-2003, 04:37 PM
 
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You know, in reading this thread some more, I'm feeling as though my post was a bit wishy-washy. ITA with you other posters that lying to kids that way is just plain wrong. I think the reason people do it is b/c they still totally underestimate the intelligence of kids.

I do think that sometimes a little lie to save someone's feelings when the truth isn't worth the hassle, or to keep your privacy etc...I don't think that is wrong. But I do really admire you mamas who are trying to resolve never to lie. I can't help but think of that Jim Carrey movie ("Liar Liar" ?) and what an interesting lesson that was in the role of the Little White Lie.

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#13 of 17 Old 02-14-2003, 08:28 PM
 
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I think there is a big difference between trying to manipulate a child ("they are all gone" types of lies) and just having fun ("let's leave cookies on a plate for Santa" kind of lies). The intent is totally different. I think my 6 year old knows there isn't a Santa, but enjoys pretending that there is.

Another idea for dealing with other people -- I usually try to pull my kids aside from other people (by going into a different room, or moving out of ear shot at the park, etc.) when I need to deal with their behavior. I started doing this because one of my DDs tends to put on a bit of a show to see what will happen when other people are watching, but is much calmer if it is just me and her. An advantage for us is that then the extended family isn't around to "help."
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#14 of 17 Old 02-14-2003, 08:47 PM
 
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Maybe I'm off the subject but I wish other people would let me do the parenting in these touchy situations. IMHO, your ILs should have let you handle the challenge your Ds presented.

Like today, I had Dd in the sling. I was out with my mother, and made a stop at her haircutter for her to make an appointment. The haircutter wanted to see the sling, so I undid my coat, and the next thing I knew she was tugging at it!

Dd has a big personal space and dislikes strangers, so she cried. Everyone wanted to stick something in her face, dangle something at her, noise at her, to make her stop. My M.O. is to let her tell her story to me and listen attentively. If I take her to a quiet place she will cry, and sort of pantomime what happened to upset her. Like point to the stranger and then tug on the sling. I'll say something affirming like "Yes, that woman touched the sling and you didn't expect it." Story told, Dd will settle down, become her smiley self again, and we'll be on our way.

But I had to practically mow down everyone in the place to get Dd to a secluded seating area where she could really settle down.

We, as the parents, know best how our children will respond to things, and it's our choice how to appease them when they are disconcerted or upset.

Now, back to the topic.
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#15 of 17 Old 02-14-2003, 11:34 PM
 
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Curious... not so much off topic and frankly, if people would just let he child's parents take the lead in the first place, there wouldn't be a need for this discussion at all. I totally understand what you're saying!

Frankly, I've been a surprised by how quickly others jump in with "no no" or whatever when I'm standing right there--before I've even had the chance to assess and handle the situation (most times of course, the NO NO was offered before DS has even had the chance to commit the unspeakable act and of course is never offered with explanation, redirection... nothing). I don't know if they think they're helping me out, as if I'm not aware of whats happening or what! I've never given anyone a reason to believe that, I'm extremely 'tuned in' parent. : *sigh*

I do find however that the ones who are most likely to speak up and parent ahead of me are those without children. Strange? Both sets of GPs are actually fairly decent about this but we've got some aunties and uncles who feel it's their duty to step in quickly. I feel so bad for my son when he hasn't even had the chance to reach up and grab that wine glass off the table and is actually pre-emted by three or four adults saying "NO NO!" Gees, poor kid. It's hard enough to hear it from me, must less three giant people! I have had a few "moments" with the ILs about this very thing.... in case you hadn't noticed.

Suffice to say, excellent point....

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#16 of 17 Old 02-14-2003, 11:54 PM
 
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I wanted to add that I agree that fantasy is fine, as long as the children realize that is what it is. I have just seen parents take it ti far to the point that they are presenting it as reality. When we learned about Santa, my mom also told us that my cousins still believed so it would be nice if we played along with the fantasy, and we were fine with that. Also being 100% truthful does not mean the same as 100% exposure. I am always truthful, but I don't always tell everyone everything. I think telling your inlaws you don't want to come because of your daughter is fine, because that is the truth. Even if you have other reasons, you aren't lying. I think being brutally honest can be mean and spiteful. If I thought someone was a mean person, I wouldn't tell them that unless they specifically asked. There is no reason to tell people hurtful things unless they ask for the truth. I also agree with the moms that lying to children totally discredits them and teaches them lying is okay. I saw this article the other day about how to raise honest children and it had all this handy dandy advice and I just laughed. It is simple, be honest. You can't lie to your children and expect them to turn out honest, give me a break. Children are more insightful than most adults, don't think you are getting one over on them, they know. I love being here with all the other moms who respect their children's precious spirits.
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#17 of 17 Old 02-15-2003, 12:22 PM
 
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Curious, I don't think your post was off topic, really - and it's a good point! I also find that people, strangers and otherwise, are so uncomfortable with a crying child that they will do all sorts of inappropriate things to make the crying stop. I had a store sales clerk give my child a toy (the store was having some kind of giveaway) when she was in the middle of a full blown tantrum because I WOULDN'T BUY HER A TOY. ARRRRGGGHHHH!!!

I think your way of dealing with your daughter's feelings is excellent - and it is so sad that most people are so uncomfortable with honest emotions if those emotions happen to be sadness or anger. I think that's why your post isn't off topic - because it is still about honesty. The reason why most people lie to kids is to avoid dealing with the real feelings that may be brought about by telling the truth.
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