By the time I told my child that the tooth fairy would be visiting our home, I’d already told a hundred other lies to my child.
“Santa won’t visit if you don’t behave.”
“The toy store is already closed.”
“The ice cream truck only plays music when they’ve run out of ice cream.”
“You have to be 8 to get into Disney World.”
“I ALWAYS did my homework right away when I was your age.”
“I NEVER drank alcohol in high school.”
“Daddy and Mommy are going to take a nap.”
From the little whites to the bold faced, we lie to our children from the day they’re born. There are the fibs we tell because we’re lazy parents:
“I would love to let you crawl under the table but that mean waitress said she’d kick us out!”
And the whoppers we drop because we want to protect their innocence:
“Nothing bad will ever happen HERE.”
Personally, I’ve never hesitated to turn fact into fiction when my child’s self esteem was on the line:
“The night you were born was the best night of my life.”
The truth is that I had complications that resulted in emergency surgery and the first days of my daughter’s life were anything but blissful. But somehow I thought that painting the memory with its true colors would make my daughter feel less valued.
So when my daughter was 16, she did as she was taught, and started lying to her mother.
“I don’t have homework today.”
“I don’t have an Instagram account.”
“I’m fine, Mom.”
The most well intended deception is the one we tell to protect someone we love from a harsh truth. We tell our best friend she looks great when she’s struggling to lose those extra pounds. We tell our boss we don’t mind covering for our co-worker’s ineptitude because it’s our job and we love it. And yes, we tell our mothers we’re fine when we’re not, because we don’t want them to worry.
In this particular case, my daughter was struggling with anxiety. The stress of school and social pressures were too much and she was starting to emotionally spiral. She wasn’t eating or sleeping well, and her grades were starting to suffer. She needed some help, but someone had taught her to favor fabrication over honesty when another person’s feelings are on the line.
Luckily, I must be a terrible teacher because my daughter is a terrible liar. We got her the help she needed and she’s doing much better now with managing school and friends and the strain of growing up. And I learned a valuable parenting lesson. At a certain point, lying to our kids isn’t teaching them to feel safe or good about themselves. It’s just teaching them to lie.
Everyone needs a girlfriend!
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