Why It’s OK To Lie To Your Kids – Sometimes
We all (well most of us) are guilty of lying to our kids. Every December we dedicate an enormous amount of energy to convincing our children that Santa Claus exists. One survey revealed that 84% of us took our children to visit more than two Santa’s that year. The tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny are close contenders when it comes to wide-spread lies concerning fictitious characters.
But do these lies effect our kids?
Will these ‘lies’ have a negative psychological effect on our kids? This is a question being asked by psychologists more and more, with some suggesting that they can undermine the trust of children in their parents.
Two nights ago our daughter turned three. We have been telling her for some time that when she turns three, the fairies will need to take her dummy (pacifier) so that a new baby can have it. Sure enough, the fairies paid us a visit and took off with her beloved dummy.
Since then, I have been asking myself the same question. Is it ok to ‘lie’ to my daughter by perpetuating myths such as fairies, or Santa Claus?
I remember hearing a while back that biologist Richard Dawkins had spoken out against convincing children of Father Christmas. He claimed that it is potentially harmful and that it is
“pernicious to instil in a child the view that the world is shaped by supernaturalism.”
Further research has taught me that Dawkins is not alone in his view, and that numerous psychologists agree.
What Psychologists have to say
According to Psychologist Christopher Boyle, and mental health researcher Kathy McKay, lying to our kids about Santa Claus and other such myths is potentially damaging. They claim that
“All children will eventually find out they’ve been consistently lied to for years, and this might make them wonder what other lies they’ve been told.”
They suggest that perpetuating the myth of Santa Claus may undermine our children’s trust in us as parents.
Now, I’m no Psychologist, but it doesn’t take a Ph.D to call bullshit when I see it…
No I’m not a psychologist and I’m in no way claiming to be a parenting expert, but it doesn’t take a Ph.D to call bullshit when I see it. Young children live in a dream-like state of mind, and encouraging the idea that the world is a magical place in my opinion, is not going to harm or psychologically damage them in anyway.
Let’s focus on some lies that CAN be harmful to our kids:
According to Kate Roberts, former professor of Psychiatry at Brown University, some lies that can be harmful to our kids include:
- Lying about our own failures as a parent. We need to own our mistakes and admit when we’ve messed up!
- Lying about acting in our child’s best interest when we’re not.
- Offering false reassurances rather than tackling a problem head on.
- Lying about being sick or losing a job. Kids can tell when something is wrong and it’s better to tell them the truth in a way that they understand, and help them to process their emotions.
These are the lies we should REALLY be focusing on, not whether or not we tell our kids that there are fairies at the end of the garden.
Maybe I’m wrong….
I don’t know guys, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the Santa Claus lie is why mental illness is so rampant in Western society. Maybe our belief in fairies as children is why we have trust issues. Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that we are brainwashed into living for the sole purpose of making money so that we can consume products that the media has told us will make us a more worthy human being.
No that’s silly, It’s definitely Santa Claus….
But let’s be real
As long as you are a loving, transparent parent in every other way, and do your best to be understanding and patient, you are doing a great job!
Personally, I want to encourage that little bit of magic in my child’s life. This world is a cruel, harsh place, and the beauty of childhood is something that I want to treasure.
If that makes me a liar, then so be it.
What do you think? Is it ever OK to lie to your kids? Let me know in the comments!
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