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Challenge: Parent Fails

The Lies We Tell Our Children...And Why It's Totally Fine

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Moms and dads trying to parent in the Pinterest era are already under a ton of stress.

Don’t forget the allergy-friendly classroom snacks this week. You didn’t know this preschool has a year-long waiting list? Plan the perfect 5th birthday party for the twins with their requested theme of “Star Wars Princess Ice Cream Explosion.” Visit with Grandma and Grandpa at least once a week. Is the bag of peas you bought last week the one that was recalled?

Perhaps it’s the frenetic pace of life or the comparison that comes with social media, but for some reason today’s parents are under a ton of stress. So it’s no surprise that they often also worry if the little white lies they often tell their children are going to ruin them for life.

Spoiler alert, they won’t. Of course, big, important lies are a different story. Honesty is obviously the best policy on matters of moral, familial or cultural importance.

But little fibs are a part of raising children and could even be an important part of their development. Let’s take a closer look at the common lies parents tell their kids and why they are nothing to lose sleep over.

Santa, The Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy are Real

Parents stress about whether to foster the magic around Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. Unlike other lies that are just between you and the kiddo, these are perpetuated by family, friends, mass marketing and basically every show your child watches. Telling the truth on these from the get-go is seriously swimming against the cultural tide.

In truth, playing along with these characters is an important part of developing imagination, critical thinking and an altruistic spirit. Santa, for example, is based on the real-life Saint Nicholas, who gave gifts and money to the poor. That spirit of giving is an important one to impart to children, and you can help them use their critical thinking skills as they come to question Santa Claus. You could ask them, “Well what do you think?” to encourage them to reason through the question on their own. Parents will know when their child is ready to learn the truth about Santa, and explain to them that they can now help spread Christmas cheer just like Saint Nick did all those years ago.

The legend of the Tooth Fairy might be a bit different. Some kids are scared about losing teeth, they might feel pain if the tooth needs to be pulled out or they might freak if they see or taste blood. Distracting them with the exciting tale of a visit from the Tooth Fairy, which originates from European folk lore, can help make the loss of teeth a positive experience.

Your Face Is Going to Freeze that Way

Maybe your dear son is convinced flared nostrils, fingers in his mouth and raised eyebrows is just the funniest face he can make. Why aren’t you laughing more, Mom and Dad? Or maybe your dear daughter rolls her eyes every time you ask about homework. Before you know it, you sound just like your mom, “Your face will freeze like that if you keep rolling your eyes.”

What you are really saying is, “Do you really want to choose to repeat that behavior?” You’re encouraging them to rethink their reaction and their conduct, and that is something all good parents do when kids are being immature or even rude. So go ahead, put the fear of the frozen face in them.

The Cat Went to Live on a Farm with Other Cats

For young kids, their first encounter with death might come via the passing of a pet. If your child is very young, a worrier or prone to anxiety, you might be tempted to tell a white lie, like that the cat ran away or went to live on a farm with other cats.

You’re the parent, and you know whether or not your child is ready to learn about death in their own way. Toddlers will probably think death is temporary and ask a few days later when the kitty cat is coming back. Others might worry that even more members of the family will also die. As parents, you are probably also very upset about the passing of the family pet, so it is understandable that, in some cases, you tell them Kitty the Cat is happy on a farm with lots of cat friends.

That Noisy Toy is Broken

You’ve heard that plastic dog bark out “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” a million and a half times. If you hear it one more time, you might just lose your mind. And the blinking lights! What kind of childhood toy hellscape did the manufacturers envision?

So when your precious little one reaches for Fido, you find yourself blurting out “Oh no! That toy is broken, I’ll have to put new batteries in it or see if I can fix it tonight.” And by fix it, you mean throw it in the trash. But at least you will live to fight another day and not go crazy at the hands of a tiny toy doggie. This is a lie you tell for the greater good.

Part of being a parent is teaching kids to be truthful, honest and transparent. While lying to them about most things in life isn’t recommended, there are some common fibs that all parents tell to get by. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re a fibber. Realize you are often doing it for a greater good - for you and your family.oms and dads trying to parent in the Pinterest era are already under a ton of stress.

Don’t forget the allergy-friendly classroom snacks this week. You didn’t know this preschool has a year-long waiting list? Plan the perfect 5th birthday party for the twins with their requested theme of “Star Wars Princess Ice Cream Explosion.” Visit with Grandma and Grandpa at least once a week. Is the bag of peas you bought last week the one that was recalled?

Perhaps it’s the frenetic pace of life or the comparison that comes with social media, but for some reason today’s parents are under a ton of stress. So it’s no surprise that they often also worry if the little white lies they often tell their children are going to ruin them for life.

Spoiler alert, they won’t. Of course, big, important lies are a different story. Honesty is obviously the best policy on matters of moral, familial or cultural importance.

But little fibs are a part of raising children and could even be an important part of their development. Let’s take a closer look at the common lies parents tell their kids and why they are nothing to lose sleep over.

Santa, The Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy are Real

Parents stress about whether to foster the magic around Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. Unlike other lies that are just between you and the kiddo, these are perpetuated by family, friends, mass marketing and basically every show your child watches. Telling the truth on these from the get-go is seriously swimming against the cultural tide.

In truth, playing along with these characters is an important part of developing imagination, critical thinking and an altruistic spirit. Santa, for example, is based on the real-life Saint Nicholas, who gave gifts and money to the poor. That spirit of giving is an important one to impart to children, and you can help them use their critical thinking skills as they come to question Santa Claus. You could ask them, “Well what do you think?” to encourage them to reason through the question on their own. Parents will know when their child is ready to learn the truth about Santa, and explain to them that they can now help spread Christmas cheer just like Saint Nick did all those years ago.

The legend of the Tooth Fairy might be a bit different. Some kids are scared about losing teeth, they might feel pain if the tooth needs to be pulled out or they might freak if they see or taste blood. Distracting them with the exciting tale of a visit from the Tooth Fairy, which originates from European folk lore, can help make the loss of teeth a positive experience.

Your Face Is Going to Freeze that Way

Maybe your dear son is convinced flared nostrils, fingers in his mouth and raised eyebrows is just the funniest face he can make. Why aren’t you laughing more, Mom and Dad? Or maybe your dear daughter rolls her eyes every time you ask about homework. Before you know it, you sound just like your mom, “Your face will freeze like that if you keep rolling your eyes.”

What you are really saying is, “Do you really want to choose to repeat that behavior?” You’re encouraging them to rethink their reaction and their conduct, and that is something all good parents do when kids are being immature or even rude. So go ahead, put the fear of the frozen face in them.

The Cat Went to Live on a Farm with Other Cats

For young kids, their first encounter with death might come via the passing of a pet. If your child is very young, a worrier or prone to anxiety, you might be tempted to tell a white lie, like that the cat ran away or went to live on a farm with other cats.

You’re the parent, andyou know whether or not your child is ready to learn about death in their own way. Toddlers will probably think death is temporary and ask a few days later when the kitty cat is coming back. Others might worry that even more members of the family will also die. As parents, you are probably also very upset about the passing of the family pet, so it is understandable that, in some cases, you tell them Kitty the Cat is happy on a farm with lots of cat friends.

That Noisy Toy is Broken

You’ve heard that plastic dog bark out “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” a million and a half times. If you hear it one more time, you might just lose your mind. And the blinking lights! What kind of childhood toy hellscape did the manufacturers envision?

So when your precious little one reaches for Fido, you find yourself blurting out “Oh no! That toy is broken, I’ll have to put new batteries in it or see if I can fix it tonight.” And by fix it, you mean throw it in the trash. But at least you will live to fight another day and not go crazy at the hands of a tiny toy doggie. This is a lie you tell for the greater good.

Part of being a parent is teaching kids to be truthful, honest and transparent. While lying to them about most things in life isn’t recommended, there are some common fibs that all parents tell to get by. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re a fibber. Realize you are often doing it for a greater good - for you and your family.

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