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You Can't Handle the Truth

I realized recently that I lie to my kids on a fairly regular basis.

Sometimes I do it without even thinking about it.

“Oh, sorry. You can’t have a lollipop because we’re out.” Even when we’re not.

Sometimes I do it stop an argument from happening.

“No, you can’t go play at Billy’s house today, he’s not home.” Even if he is home.

Sometimes I do it to be nice.

“It’s okay, I’m not mad that you spilled your milk all over the couch. It was an accident.” Even though, inside, I’m raging.

I didn’t see too much of a problem with it, until recently when lying became my 4 year old’s standard method of operation.

Zachary has started lying to get himself out of trouble. Apparently he realized that if he tells us that he didn’t do something, or that he doesn’t know how something happened, that he wont’ get into trouble. Which is true, because if we can’t prove that he did, in fact, flood the bathroom floor while washing his face, we can’t punish him for it.

The problem, however, is when he lies and we know he’s lying.

Like the other day, when he put his feet in his baby brother’s face. Right in front of us.

“Did you just put your feet in your brother’s face?”

“No.”

“Zachary. I SAW you put your foot in your brother’s face. Are you lying to me?”

“Um…yes. But my foot made me do it.”

There’s really no way to even argue with that, is there?

My kids are young enough that they don’t yet realize I’m flat out lying to them sometimes. They’ve never caught me in a lie and called me on it. But some day they will. And if I spend my time punishing them for lying to me, will I have any credibility when they realize I lie to them?

Is it okay to lie to them if I’m protecting them from the harsh realities of real life, but not when I just don’t feel like getting off of the couch to get them another string cheese? What about Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny…are those lies okay?  Because, really, that’s what they are.

When I was four, “Cindergrella” didn’t really help me cross the street. But I’m also pretty sure that our cat was actually eaten by coyotes and hadn’t, as my parents said, found a nice new home in the country.

Is honestly always the best policy? Do you lie to your kids?

Photo Credit: Flickr

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