by Rhonda Robinson PJ Media June 4, 2012 – 7:00 am
Honesty isn’t always the best policy when it comes to reasoning with small children. Being totally honest with your children is a noble thought and in a perfect world it would certainly be considered the best practice.
However, the world isn’t, and young children are not compact adults. In fact, the world is too complex and dangerous to expect the under seven crowd to grasp the total truth on most issues. It’s hard enough trying to get them to grasp personal hygiene, let alone an ugly reality.
Young children possess limited reasoning and coping skills. Just because a child is old enough to ask if his military dad might die in Afghanistan it doesn’t mean he should carry the burden of worry every day that his father could be killed.
Lies come in all shades, sizes and colors. My rules for what constitutes a legal parental lie, have more to do with childhood fantasy, health, hygiene and safety.
If you’re not sure about what constitutes what I call a permissible lie, here is my basic rule of thumb. One day, with a little more age and maturity, he will not only realize I lied, but also understand why — all in the span of one epiphany.
Establishing truth and trust is important for a healthy, happy childhood. You tell stories to your children and keep them safe, and build trust in your relationship as they grow. Wise parents will do so without destroying their innocence.
A few well-placed lies, or crafted stories handed down from generation to generation can color a childhood with imagination, protect them from their immaturity, and shield them from the adult burden of understanding the truth of real evil.
From the most harmless fibs to verbal shields of protection, here are six lies we tell our children.
6. Of Course There’s a Tooth Fairy.
It’s not uncommon to tell kids there is a happy round guy who only brings toys to good little boys and girls. This is a generally accepted parental “white” lie. In our family, we chose to neither confirm nor deny the existence of holiday characters. We simply emphasized our faith on religious holidays.
Nevertheless, that didn’t stop us from having fun with the Tooth Fairy.
The deal is the Tooth Fairy wants good teeth. She doesn’t want dirty, unbrushed teeth. She’ll pay top dollar for a well cared-for tooth.
However, the gig is usually up at around nine or so. That’s about how old my oldest daughter was when she stuck out her hand — palm up and fingers wiggling with expectation.
“Come on mom. We both know there’s no Tooth Fairy. Why don’t you just give me the money now” she half-demanded.
“Did you hear that?” I said.
“Listen. Can’t you hear it?”
“What is it?”
“It’s the sound of a dying Tooth Fairy. Every time a child says there’s no such thing as a Tooth Fairy, her Tooth Fairy dies.”
Her eyes narrowed, locking onto mine. She was old enough not to believe in Fairy Tales, but young enough not to be without a doubt.
Within days she lost several more teeth. She later told me she had picked the wrong week to grow up. More than a of couple decades later I received a phone call from that same daughter’s oldest son. I could hear the suspicion in his voice from the minute I answered the phone.
“Yes, hi Zach.”
“Can I ask you a question?
“Are there such things as Tooth Fairies?”
I hesitated, and replied trying to sound wise, “What do you think?”
“I think mom puts the money under my pillow — I want to know what you think?”
“I think you just killed your Tooth Fairy.”
There was a brief pause of silence, “Yeah, that’s what mom said.”
The cycle of lies continues… Continue Reading