Today's post has been inspired by two things. The first was an article I read in Parents magazine called 7 Lies Parents Tell. It addressed "harmless" lies parents usually tell kids and why these lies don't help kids learn how to behave. These lies were along the lines of "it's against the law for 3-year-olds to use pacifiers, so now that you are a big girl you have to throw away your binky" or "Sparky got sick and went to live on a farm" and "this [shot at the doctor's] won't hurt a bit." Second, our pastor talked about social sins that we are all guilty of and reaffirmed why they are indeed sins. Of course he talked about lying that we all do when we're trying to keep the peace or omitting facts to make ourselves look better. He also made sure to mention how much God hates lying. We know this because the Bible says so.
All of this has made me extremely aware of what I tell my two-year-old. She has two bibs that she wears when she eats; a heart bib and a hippo bib. And she's getting to the age where she is developing definite opinions about what she wants to wear. I use both bibs, but sometimes I would rather use the hippo bib because it covers her better and catches food better. If we're eating something that has the potential to be particularly messy, I reach for the hippo bib.
Several times, however, as I would be snapping the hippo bib around her neck, she'd start shrieking "Heart bib! Heart bib! Heart bib!" I don't know why. She likes both bibs. Maybe she thought one matched her outfit better. But I do know that at the time I replied, "The heart bib is dirty. Let's use the hippo bib." She accepted this explanation and went on to chatter about the heart bib being dirty. I suppose I should point out that the heart bib was not dirty at the time. That, folks, was a lie.
A few days later I was again putting the hippo bib on her and she looked at me knowingly and said "Heart bib's dirty." And went on to eat her meal in relative peace. I didn't correct her, because I wanted her wearing the hippo bib at the time. But that, too, was a lie by omission.
This all happened way before I read the article or went to church. But I was cut to the core when I realized that I lied to my toddler to keep the peace. And she's a little sponge. If this is something I develop a habit of, she will too, because how would she know any better? I now usually say "It's in the sink. You're wearing this one now." She's only 2...she usually doesn't need any more of an explanation than that.
I guess my point is that there is no reason ever to lie to your kids. You don't have to share all the information, but you don't need to lie about it either. If they are asking about something they don't need to know about, just tell them "You don't need to know that right now." Then change the subject. It's good for them to learn that there are some things that are none of their business. Or that they have to do some things because you're the parent and you said so. Or what the reality of the situation is, even if it's a little scary at the time. And most important, they WON'T learn a habit of telling lies. Because there is no reason to lie, ever. And because God hates lying. And if you're trying to raise your kids to please the Lord, teaching them to lie is the wrong way to go about it.