Ideas for Quality Time

Healthy Families

Disney Family Deals

I Lie to My Kid! An Expose

Lying to your kids to maintain tranquility

"Look at that huge crane over there," my husband Pat says, pointing dramatically into the distance. An unimpressive tip of what might be a crane, a bus, or a billboard glints through the Los Angeles smog.

"I can't see it," says our 6-year-old, Spencer. As he peers into the murky distance, I scoot in front of a magazine rack like a human shield, still grasping the newspaper we came to buy.

Pat glances back to make sure I'm in position, then returns to Spence. "Um, maybe it's not a crane, buddy. I guess I'm mistaken. Let's get the paper."

Spence looks at me, lifting his shoulders as if to say, "What was that all about?"

I hand the newspaper to Pat and shrug back at Spence, as if to say, "Crazy old Daddy's seeing things. What can you do?"

In truth, Pat and I are lying to our son. The magazine I am standing in front of is emblazoned with the headline CROC HUNTER'S TRAGIC DEATH REMEMBERED BY WIDOW. Pat and I are lying because we don't want Spence, who already reads like a pro, to discover that his hero is dead, and by such dramatic means. Until Spence started watching The Crocodile Hunter, he was terrified of going near the ocean. He cowered on the beach, conjuring images of poisonous and predatory creatures trolling the deep, lying in wait to chomp a chunk out of a little boy. Steve Irwin, a.k.a. "The Crocodile Hunter," changed all that with his assurance that there's nothing to fear from underwater predators as long as we respect their habits. Recently, Spence has loved splashing through the surf, confident that if he doesn't hurt the world, it won't hurt him.

When Pat and I learned of the tragic encounter with a stingray that took Irwin's life, we could have used the incident as an opportunity to talk to Spence about the randomness of the universe, how life isn't fair, and the poetic irony of Irwin's death — who could have predicted that the stinger would strike exactly at the Hunter's heart? We could have engaged in any number of conversations that would have deepened Spence's understanding of the way the world works. Worthy conversations all. But ones that would likely send Spencer back to the sandy sidelines. Why risk it when there was another option? We could simply lie.

When I tell my friend Melanie about this, she tells me that I'm lucky Spencer's peers are more interested in Power Rangers than reptiles. Otherwise, Spence would have discovered the subterfuge months ago. Anyway, she adds, the lie about the Crocodile Hunter is more one of omission, not like the bald-faced doozy she laid on her 7-year-old daughter last week: "I was exhausted after her birthday party and really looking forward to some cake. So I told her that there wasn't any cake left, knowing that I was going to eat the last piece myself after she went to bed."

Relief. I, too, find myself lying to my children to avoid the battery of protests, explanations, and tears that would inevitably come if one tried, for example, the truthful response: "Yes, there is one last piece of cake in the refrigerator, and Mommy wants to have it after you go to bed. She didn't get her piece of cake earlier because she was too busy digging birthday candles out of your little sister's ear when cake was being served. Don't you agree that after all the work she did to make your party a seminal experience in your still very short life, she deserves to sit in the dark all alone with a smooth glass of pinot noir and the last piece of cake that she spent two hours making?"

"Look at that huge crane over there," my husband Pat says, pointing dramatically into the distance. An unimpressive tip of what might be a crane, a bus, or a billboard glints through the Los Angeles smog.

"I can't see it," says our 6-year-old, Spencer. As he peers into the murky distance, I scoot in front of a magazine rack like a human shield, still grasping the newspaper we came to buy.

Pat glances back to make sure I'm in position, then returns to Spence. "Um, maybe it's not a crane, buddy. I guess I'm mistaken. Let's get the paper."

Spence looks at me, lifting his shoulders as if to say, "What was that all about?"

I hand the newspaper to Pat and shrug back at Spence, as if to say, "Crazy old Daddy's seeing things. What can you do?"

In truth, Pat and I are lying to our son. The magazine I am standing in front of is emblazoned with the headline CROC HUNTER'S TRAGIC DEATH REMEMBERED BY WIDOW. Pat and I are lying because we don't want Spence, who already reads like a pro, to discover that his hero is dead, and by such dramatic means. Until Spence started watching The Crocodile Hunter, he was terrified of going near the ocean. He cowered on the beach, conjuring images of poisonous and predatory creatures trolling the deep, lying in wait to chomp a chunk out of a little boy. Steve Irwin, a.k.a. "The Crocodile Hunter," changed all that with his assurance that there's nothing to fear from underwater predators as long as we respect their habits. Recently, Spence has loved splashing through the surf, confident that if he doesn't hurt the world, it won't hurt him.

When Pat and I learned of the tragic encounter with a stingray that took Irwin's life, we could have used the incident as an opportunity to talk to Spence about the randomness of the universe, how life isn't fair, and the poetic irony of Irwin's death — who could have predicted that the stinger would strike exactly at the Hunter's heart? We could have engaged in any number of conversations that would have deepened Spence's understanding of the way the world works. Worthy conversations all. But ones that would likely send Spencer back to the sandy sidelines. Why risk it when there was another option? We could simply lie.

When I tell my friend Melanie about this, she tells me that I'm lucky Spencer's peers are more interested in Power Rangers than reptiles. Otherwise, Spence would have discovered the subterfuge months ago. Anyway, she adds, the lie about the Crocodile Hunter is more one of omission, not like the bald-faced doozy she laid on her 7-year-old daughter last week: "I was exhausted after her birthday party and really looking forward to some cake. So I told her that there wasn't any cake left, knowing that I was going to eat the last piece myself after she went to bed."

Relief. I, too, find myself lying to my children to avoid the battery of protests, explanations, and tears that would inevitably come if one tried, for example, the truthful response: "Yes, there is one last piece of cake in the refrigerator, and Mommy wants to have it after you go to bed. She didn't get her piece of cake earlier because she was too busy digging birthday candles out of your little sister's ear when cake was being served. Don't you agree that after all the work she did to make your party a seminal experience in your still very short life, she deserves to sit in the dark all alone with a smooth glass of pinot noir and the last piece of cake that she spent two hours making?"

full star empty star empty star empty star empty star Rated by 1 member
Print
null data...
promoObjectId (null)
promoObject.title ()
promoObject.contentType ()
promoWidth ()
promoHeight ()
promoContainerId (editorialPromo1)
promoCSS (on_travelTips_aggregate)
this displays when the floating stack report is on

CeReality: 5 Families, 5 Stories, 1 Critical Meal

null data...
promoObjectId (null)
promoObject.title ()
promoObject.contentType ()
promoWidth ()
promoHeight ()
promoContainerId (editorialPromo3)
promoCSS (on_travelTips_aggregate)
this displays when the floating stack report is on
null data...
promoObjectId (null)
promoObject.title ()
promoObject.contentType ()
promoWidth ()
promoHeight ()
promoContainerId (editorialPromo4)
promoCSS (on_travelTips_aggregate)
this displays when the floating stack report is on
Please log in ...
Close
You must be logged in to use this feature.

Thank You!

Thank you for helping us maintain a friendly, high quality community at Family.com. This comment will be reviewed by a community moderator.

Flag as Not Acceptable?

We review flagged content and enforce our Terms of Use, in which content must never be:

See full Terms of Use.