Friday, September 12, 2008

Lying to children

Working for the world's largest-museum complex makes for great people watching. At lunchtime, I often sit outside on a wrought iron bench in the Castle's perfectly manicured gardens, just watching hordes of tourists go by and making observations.

Today a man, woman and two children walked by holding hands. The little girl looked trustingly at the man--I'll call him her father, for the sake of argument--and asked, "When did they come up with the idea to make the Smithsonian." Without blinking an eye, her father responded, "1874."

Close, but no cigar. The correct answer is 1846.

Parent's lying to children is not uncommon around here. In fact, The Washington Post wrote an article, "Father Knows Best?", earlier this year about parent's making up information in response to their kids' questions about objects on display at the Air and Space Museum.

I wonder how many lies my own parents told me. I never believed in the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus, but that's probably because I'm Jewish. I do however recall being told things like, "Quit making that face or it will get stuck that way" and "don't swallow your gum or it will stick to your insides."

What lies do you remember being told? Do you lie to your kids? Do you plan to lie when the "where do babies come from" question pops up?


Lora said...

That's a hard one. I don't believe in lying, per se, but I do believe in tailoring your answers to fit the intellectual and developmental capacity of your child. If Jake asked me today where he came from, I would say "my belly" and that would be a good enough answer. In a couple years, I can probably say that mommies and daddies make babies and that will blow his mind so much he won't ask more. The sex stuff can come later.

My default is when a kid asks a question I always say "that's a good question. what made you think of that?" and then they answer and I say "Oh! Good thinking! What do you think the answer is?" and then they answer and then I say "you're really smart to think about that" and 9 times out of 10 the kid gets bored and walks away proud that it answered its own question

Michele Horne said...

I admit it, I lie. I pretended to be putting chocolate sauce in my daughters milk (to make chocolate milk) for a good 4 years before she caught on that the chocolate sauce wasn't even open. My mother was aghast at how evil I was to that poor little girl. Hey, the ends justify the means.