Kathryn Hahn on Teaching Your Kids to Be Honest — Even When It’s Not So Easy

Kathryn Hawn
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No one ever said parenting was easy. From sleepless nights and tantrums to 3rd-grade math homework and puppy love, this ever-evolving gig is filled with challenges, joys, and lots of confusion. But as any mom or dad will tell you, the ultimate goal of parenting is to one day send damn great people out into this world.

So how do we go about doing that? Well, we love our kids unconditionally, sure. We stay up nights worrying, obviously. We question ourselves and our abilities, naturally. But we also learn really early on that as our child’s first teacher, we have to lead by example. And Kathryn Hahn, star of A Bad Moms Christmas, knows a thing or 12 about leading the way for son Leonard, 11, and daughter Mae, 8.

Babble sat down with the versatile actress to dish about motherhood and doing the right thing — even when we might not necessarily want to.

“You know, my son is 11, and we could have done this family thing together, but you had to be 12 years old to get in,” says Hahn. “And we thought, ‘Oh, we could fudge it, no one would know the difference, and it’s a white lie.’ But then we saw him note the sign, and my husband and I were both like, ‘Maybe this is a good lesson of telling the truth.’ Because he would see us having to lie to these people to let him get in.”

Oh, how I get that struggle! My now-teenage son was always very small for his age. In fact, he could have probably eaten off the kid’s menu and enjoyed discounted “kid” rates until pretty recently. But while taking advantage of a lower admission prices and cheaper meals would have surely benefitted my wallet, what would these kinds of white lies teach him?

Hahn and her husband wondered the same:

” … we knew it was a white lie and no one would be getting hurt, but we thought maybe it’s better to have him watch us tell the truth in this moment. And it’s disappointing that he couldn’t do the activity, but it may be better for his moral compass. And it’s those little things we’re trying.”

And it’s the little things, as Hahn points out, that add up to, well, everything. When our kids see us making good choices in spite of any personal advantage or comfort, they begin to understand that integrity isn’t a condition of convenience, but rather one of character.

And lemme tell you, doing the right thing is sometimes harder than you might think. Those seemingly harmless white lies can look mighty attractive at times. So attractive in fact, that even the greatest among us stumble sometimes.

“But God knows, we’re not perfect,” Hahn admits. “And that was certainly something different than when I was growing up. Like my dad would always try to say that we were younger, always, so that we could get in for free to places. ALL the time.”

But every imperfect parent’s hope is that in the end, our hard-earned experiences make us the best teachers we can be.

Hahn tells Babble:

“I’m trying to learn from how I was parented. What meant a ton and then what has changed, like what’s different in terms of … so many things. You have clarity on your own childhood, I think, when you become a parent. Or at least if you try. I find myself pushing on the gas with certain things with the kids. Like, I wonder if that’s me or is that my mom speaking through me. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what your own path is. I think she was an amazing mom …”

One could easily argue that it takes a great parent to know one. And we know Hahn’s desire “to install a good moral compass and an ethical true north” for her kids is really all the direction parents need.

A Bad Moms Christmas is now available on Blu-ray/DVD.

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