Perhaps the best way to start is to lay out my definition of a lie. Therefore, according to Dictionary.com, a lie is "A false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive."
Joan had some good points to be considered. She wants her children to know that lying is not the right thing to do. I would think most of us would agree with that. She also thought she was being hypocritical if she lied to her kids but enforced the fact that her kids should not lie.
I may be making a bold statement but I would bet a vast majority of my readers have or will lie to their children for some reason. For example, who places money under their child's pillow when they loose a tooth? How about who comes sliding down the chimney on December 25th? Finally, who is the best parenting blog writer on the planet? (all right, I made the last one up) While I realize I have readers all over the world, I hope you get my point even if you don't participate in these particular falsehoods.
The prior examples are what I call lies of innocence- We tell "stories" to our children to celebrate a certain time or event on their level. While I understand that it is still lying by definition, I don't believe there is any harm. Therefore, you can bet that the Easter bunny will be making a stop at my house in April.
Image via Wikipedia
There are other lies though which aren't so innocent. Several months ago, I was told a story by a "friend" which really bothered me. Basically, this person's mother lied to my friend about who their father really is. This person didn't find out the truth until her adult years and has understandably been very bitter since.
In my opinion, lying and whether it is OK can be found in the circumstances. (Now we are getting in the deep weeds because everyone has to define their own circumstances). Although I am not big into lying to children, I can certainly recognize situations as to why it is done. Except for the lies of innocence, I've often told children I would rather tell the truth and hurt their feelings rather than lie. For the most part, I've stuck with it over the years and haven't regretted it yet.
I will say that for any of us, we are taking a risk when we lie even if it is a lie of innocence. The risk is that we will eventually be caught. If and when that happens, will the modeling we have perpetrated rub off on our kids? In other words, will they believe it is all right to lie based on what we have modeled? Also, will our overall credibility with our kids be less? If so, how can we teach future lessons they will listen to and follow? Finally, as in my prior example concerning the lie about my friends dad, will the lie(s) cause severe harm to the relationship with our children?
I'd like to believe I select my lies carefully. While I am the guy singing the accolades about the tooth fairy, I wouldn't tell my kids on a hot summer day, "when the ice cream man passes and his bell is ringing; that means he is all out." Some people may not believe there is a difference because lying is lying. In the end, it really is a personal decision.
To sum it up for Joan, is it ok to lie to your kids? Probably not. But, I don't think when my children learn the truths behind some of the little lies, it will affect them or their ability to tell the truth due to the nature of the lie. Only time will tell if I am right and that's no lie.
On Monday, I will be throwing an education blog your way. Over the weekend, I would like you to think of your favorite magicians/illusionists. Their "escapes" from situations are pretty amazing, aren't they? I'm going to compare these performers with teachers in some of your kids classrooms.
Have some fun with your family this weekend and I'll see you Monday!