Do you ever lie to your kids? I do all the time and apparently this freaks quite a few of my friends out. I may be alone in my belief that as far as parenting goes honesty is not always the best policy but I stand by my position.
Most of my lies are simply ways to make the outside world responsible so that I am not. For example, if you are like me, the stench of the elephant house at the zoo is enough to make you vomit right there on the spot. When Jack was young, he loved elephants. It was so much easier just to tell a 3 year old Jack that the elephant house was closed on Tuesdays, than to fight with him about walking through. Sure, I could have told him it made Mommy sick to go inside. I may have tried that once or twice and what I learned was …he really didn’t care. He was 3, he wanted to go in the elephant house, enough to pitch a fit if I said No. He didn’t give a pile of elephant poop if I tossed my cookies. However, if it was closed by the Zoo, I was not to blame and there was nothing anyone could do. We were free to go to the less offensive smelling reptile house; Jack happily in his stroller pointing to the Elmer’s that were outside as we passed by. A win, win if you ask me.
I potty trained Quinn through a series of lies. She was a few months past 2 when we went away for Thanksgiving. The entire time we were away she used the big girl potty of her own volition. She would take her diaper off, use the potty and then ask for help putting the diaper back on. I mistakenly assumed this meant she was potty trained and excitedly purchased countless packages of Princess and Dora underwear. Upon our return home, she refused to use the potty and all my purchased were for naught. By March, I had had enough. I knew girlfriend was more than physically capable of using the potty, she was choosing not to. So I had to make using the potty her idea…this is where my affinity for lying came in handy.
At the time, we lived near a small amusement park called KiddieLand. I had never taken my children there even though we passed it on our frequent trips to Target. So one day on our way to Target, I pulled into the KiddieLand parking lot and said, “Quinn, do you want to go to KiddleLand? It looks like so much fun.” Then I pointed to the flashing sign that stood tall in the middle of the parking lot, “Oh no, look what the sign says…oh sweetie, I’m sorry, it says we can’t go…Big girls only, must be potty trained…oh well, maybe when you’re bigger.” And I pulled out of the parking lot secretly enjoying the disappointed look on Quinn’s face.
We then went to Target where I let her go down the Barbie aisle. At this point in my parenting career I was staunchly anti-Barbie and had prevented any of the buxom blondes from entering my house. Quinn, however, was not immune to the Barbie propaganda and had been making pleas for the addition of a Barbie to her toy collection. We went slowly down the Barbie aisle and I let her pick one up. While she was holding it, I pointed to some lettering on the box. “Oh no, look what it says, For Big Girls ONLY. Must be potty trained.” And I told her to put the box back on the shelf.
It took less than 3 days for Quinn to step back into her Princess and Dora underwear and then we went to KiddieLand and bought her a Barbie to celebrate. I never would have used such high pressure tactics had she not proven months before that she was physically capable of using the toilet. Once she had external motivation to use the potty, it happened almost overnight. My nagging did not do the trick but toss in that blonde bombshell and BAM! Huggies were a thing of the past.
I never lie about the important stuff. If we are going to the Dr’s office I have never promised there would not be a shot. My answer was always “I don’t know.” Although technically this could be considered a lie because many times I did know there would be a shot but said I don’t know anyway. I don’t see how increasing my child’s anxiety prior to a check-up does anyone any good.
I have been known to tell a child that they no longer make Pull-Ups in their size, the dog is allergic to people food and drinking soda will stunt their growth. Are my lies detrimental to my children? I don’t think so. We all get a good laugh out of the potty training story, even 13 year old Quinn, so I don’t think she was irreparably scarred.
These days though, my lying has lessened considerably because all but one of my kids can read. I have been forced into honesty simply because my children are receiving a fairly decent education. All is not lost however. Now, I avoid the stinky elephant house by making my big kids walk through with the shorties and meeting them on the other side. Some lies have just become unnecessary.
And before you judge me for lying, ask yourself if the big fat man in red comes to your house in December or the tooth fairy flutters in to exchange some cash for a lost tooth. If so, you, my friend, are right there with me, whether you lie about it or not.