Do You Lie to Your Kids?

We all do in a way, don’t we? Little white lies or omissions of certain facts that may not be appropriate given the age of the child in question.

I remember a certain somebody dutifully, skillfully, providing a biologically sound explanation to her six-year-old daughter when she asked how babies were made. The mom’s scientific repartee with the child, answering question after question, as they drove through Montclair heading for home was quite impressive. Each subsequent question, though, intensified and required more precise information.

Where was it all leading? How long could the mom honestly answer her child’s questions without veering into murky territory? How much could her daughter handle? How much could the mother handle?

As the interrogation neared its climax, the two neared home. Finally, the daughter said in frustration, “Yes, but how does the sperm reach the egg?” The mother swung into the driveway and shouted, “Who wants ice cream?”

And that settled that.

I keep deferring the whole baby-making conversation with my daughter. I’ve already told her how the baby gets out, and that’s enough for now. When she continues to ask me how babies are made, I tell her, “I don’t know. Go ask your father.” So far, it’s worked.

But that’s not really the issue I’ve been facing. My lie or omission as it were has less to do with my kid’s maturity level than with pure convenience. I do emphasize to my children the importance of being honest, a lesson hard won when a certain someone broke a certain someone else’s computer, but this time I just couldn’t help myself.

See, I finally got my husband to block certain inappropriate programs from my kids’ viewing pleasure. I’m not talking “Jersey Shore” or “Housewives” of any region. The shows I wanted blocked were more along the lines of “iCarly” and “Gook Luck Charlie.” I’ve never really approved of those shows and don’t think they’re appropriate for kids under 16, though, I am fully aware the audience skews younger, much younger. And my daughter is among them, possibly even descending into a spiral of Disney Channel abuse and addiction.

For over a year I’ve been asking my husband to block those shows (I can’t do it because we have no less than four remotes, and I don’t know how to work any of them). Finally, the day came last month when he actually did it. Well, he did it one night after the kids went to bed. They had no knowledge of the obstruction of the Disney Channel or the new iCarlyless fate awaiting them.

That night I went to sleep slightly fearful. What would the next day bring? Would I awake to shrieks? Screams? Tears? Sasha’s wrath?

But the next morning the house was oddly quiet. I got up and waited. Silently. For the reign of terror I was certain was coming my way once Sasha discovered all her most beloved shows were no longer playing on our T.V.

But it never happened. She never said a word.

I talked to my husband about whether we should have a discussion with Sasha about what happened to the missing programs (although she’s fully aware of my disdain), but he’s pretty much against addressing issues head on. Kevin’s philosophy is let sleeping dogs lie.

And that’s what I did.

(Photo: Flickr/marioanima)
(Excerpt photo: iStockphoto)

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  1. Seriously, I am (was, since these conversations are long past) one of those moms who answered all questions honestly and thoroughly, no matter how awkward, though it wasn’t always easy. My kids were very well versed in human reproduction at an early age, since they asked for the information. I did make sure to tell them not to talk to other kids about it all, saying it was a private conversation each child needed to have with his/her own parents. If they did spread the info around the school yard, at least the information was correct, and included the real body parts. As for lying, I generally have no tolerance for dishonesty, though recognize the value in the harmless white version (like the pancakes the kids cooked that were awful and burnt were delicious, etc.). I think there are ways of telling the truth, while editing one’s word choice and details provided, that can be age appropriate and respectful without crossing into dangerous territory. At any rate, I asked my kids not to lie to me and therefore treat them with the same respect. None of us is perfect, and I’m sure we’ve all crossed the line, but it is at the top of our family’s moral code. If your kids want the baby talk, give them the basic facts way before they need it. You don’t have to include the recreational part of the activity… Before long, they’ll need to know such things and you’ll be glad for the open dialogue.

  2. I have lied about whether there is any candy in the house (mine, all mine) but not about the sex questions. I’ve been very straightforward and the conversations end pretty quickly–their curiosity is satisfied and they are grossed out enough by the truth to stop asking questions.

    (I’m with Erika on this.)

    One time, though, my daughter heard a song by Rihanna unfortunately and asked me what S & M meant and at that particular moment, I played dumb. “What? Huh? Oh yeah, I don’t know….so how was school today?” She’s 6 for God’s sake. I wanted to wait until she was at least 10 before we had that conversation.

  3. @Tudlow, fortunately no one ever asked me about S&M. But playing dumb and withholding information to spare your child horrifying knowledge isn’t lying. It’s good parenting (to a point, of course). Now at 20 and 18, having been through the Glen Ridge sex ed program, where any question is allowed as long as they use proper terminology, there is probably little left for me to explain to my kids — about sex, anyway.

  4. Thanks, Erika. 🙂
    The GR sex ed program sounds fantastic. I, like you, think kids/teens appreciate it when they are spoken to openly and honestly (as long as it’s not about S&M).

  5. Wha? Huh? Did somebody say something? Oh, hey there wally! Have you noticed that the forsythia will be blooming soon?

    (The same tactic works great with kids.)

  6. Stacey, nice job with the playdough.

    We have a great book called, “It is not the Stork.” It answers kids questions in an fun and accurate way.

    There is no Sadism & Masochism section though.

    Tudlow, odd my forsythia it blooming white this year.

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