Monday, March 29, 2010

Tell me lies, tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies...

As they used to say on Happy Days...Fleetwood Mac, you can Sit on it!

I HATE to be lied to.

It has to be on my top 10 list of things that make me want to claw someone's eyes out.

It probably rests comfortably at number 2 or 3 on that list. Maybe even number 1 if I really sat down to think about it.

I have had some experience with every word that came out of someone's mouth was a BIG FAT LIE!

From the mundane ("Did you call so-and-so?") to the biggies ("Where were you today and why haven't you answered my calls?") I've heard it all. I have been lied to through text, through email, over the phone and point blank right to my face. Unfortunately for the person telling the whopper, I seem to have a sixth sense about these things. Information tends to fall right in my lap that contradicts what the liar said and that proves they were lying.

I've had friendships broken, feelings hurt, and relationships destroyed because of lying.

You migtht say that I have a passionate dislike for liars.

You would be understating my feelings on the matter.

So, imagine how I felt when I picked up a Parenting-type magazine this weekend and read an article talking about what kids need to "survive" as they grow up. There were things like learning how to make friends, how not to melt down in public, etc , etc.

Then, there was a paragraph or two about teaching our kids to be the "Al Pacinos and Meryl Streeps" of the playground. In other words, teaching our kids how to give Oscar winning performances-- "little white lies"-- so as to spare someone's feelings.

Please don't get me wrong. I have no desire to hurt someone's feelings (or for my children to hurt someone's feelings). In fact, my empathy goes so deep that I usually cry at the drop of a hat whenever someone tells me a wrong that has been committed to someone else.

What I take issue with is teaching our kids to lie under the guise that it's the "right thing to do."

I don't hold to that.

I believe there are tactful ways to keep from hurting someone else's feelings without lying.

For 1, how do you teach a child how to differentiate between when it's "okay" to lie and when it isn't? What's to stop a child from figuring that since it's "okay" to lie to spare someone else's feelings  that surely it's okay to lie to spare his own feelings (AKA: to avoid getting into trouble)?

An example used in the magazine was if little Johnny comes up to your little darling and says, "Do you like my new haircut?" And your little guy doesn't like it AT ALL, then it's okay to tell a "white lie" so as to not hurt little Johnny's feelings. Therefore, say, "I LOVE your haircut!"

I disagree.

I think the better option would be to say something like, "Wow! You got your haircut! How exciting! Do you like it?" or "You got your haircut! It's definitely 'You'! How fun!"

This way, your child isn't lying and you are not hurting someone else's feelings unnecessarily.

Unfortunately, I think there is far too much of this type of parenting advice available. We are so busy not offending someone else and teaching our children the same that we lose some values in the process. It's very frustrating.

Any thoughts?


  1. Eww, the lie thing is a tricky thing with kids. Explaining a white lie, very confusing. As they have gotten older though they sort of get it. I mean, they see me do it. You know, telling my 4-year-old things like eat your veges or you won't grow big. Or they hear me on the phone telling someone I'm in the middle of dinner or something because I just can't talk at the moment. I do think there really is such a thing as white lies, but younger kids I don't think can really grasp the idea.

  2. Mandy, I'm with you about hating lies. I agree that we can teach our children to be tactful without lying. It is more difficult, but it is an important life skill.

    You're lucky that you have a sixth sense to detect lies.

  3. Oh I completely agree with you on this one. Our children receive such mixed messages if we tell them that honesty is always the "best policy" and that it's OK to lie "some of the times." That's just too murky for my taste. I do think, however, that we must teach our children to clothe everything in love. Your responses were perfect.

    Heck, you should have written the Parents article.

    Lovin' your new blog, girl!

  4. FIRST OF ALL, I'm laughing at your disclaimer that "the language of others is not representative of MandyP. OMG - You're not going to be thrilled with my 'Freakins" and "Flippins", then! But, oh yeah... you're already covered!

    Second of all... I'm ALL ABOUT what you're saying! I think little white lies turn into items much greater. If they hear you say "it's okay to lie so you don't hurt their feelings", they don't even hear (or will they remember when they're teens" the 2nd part of that sentence. They'll just hear, in their head, "it's okay to liee.. it's okay to lie....".

    Where I"m stuck is when one of my older children (namely my one and only daughter) gets to do -- or receives -- something special from me... whether staying up a bit later... something she's earned, an extra piece of gum. When the boys ask if she got it... and why.. and it's just gonna turn into a disaster of a convo, b/c they can't process the reasons... I have found myself skimming over the full truth. And now, I see my daughter doing it, too (AHHH!). Only in these circumstances (w/the boys), but still... I gotta nip that in the bud.

    I DO SAY it's never okay to lie.. so let's do this: if they ask, we'll tell them the truth... but since it'll hurt their feelings and they won't understand, let's just not bring it up. But, if they ask we need to tell them what you're doing, and why it's special.

    So many things to think/worry about.... and how what we do NOW effects them FOREVER!

  5. I live in Yuppie, duppie land. Where kids can't play games that there is a loser in the end. Bingo is ok, as long as in the end EVERYONE gets a prize....relay is ok, as long as there is 3 two teams are losers, and not just winner/loser teams...I wonder out loud how are these children going to survive when they are adults? I live in a very nice home, built by my hubby and me,it took 2 years and is passive solar. True story...someone would not let their child play with mine, cuz we lived in the wrong neighborhood, but when she drove me home after a meeting, and saw my home....nicer than most in neighborhood, her kid has called many times for a play date....NOW I find myself not answering the phone, and not be do I tell this parent, what I learned through another parent? Or do keep ignoring calls? Yes I am teaching my kids to lie, yes I am teaching my kids to sorta be mean...but how would others handle this persons slight to begin with? Her kid didn't return my kids original calls? Just because we built a nice home in a normal neighborhood, why should I be friends with someone who does not like my neighbors? I LOVE my new friends here! It honestly never occurred to me to base my friendships by how big of a home someone has....and I will not let my children surcease to that...thinking of moving. But husband says this occurs in all towns.

  6. Mimi,

    I'm not sure if your question was rhetorical or if you really wanted a response, but I'm gonna jump in anyway =)...

    What a crappy position to be in. It ALWAYS makes me feel bad when I hear something that was said about me from a "friend of a friend." (For the record, I actually end up wondering what the friend who told me what the OTHER friend said is saying about ME to someone else!)

    I don't know that I would address it with the mom who wouldn't let her child come over (since it is second-hand), but now all of the sudden is like, "Oh let's be friends..." I would be turned off too. I probably would continue to say, "No, it's not a good time." It's not a lie-it's not a good tme to have them all of the sudden "like" you.

    I am by NO Means an expert on ANYTHING. I just try to live my life (and teach my kids to do the same) based on how I want others to treat me. Since I HATE being lied to (about ANYTHING!) I try my very darndest to not lie to anyone else. Plus, I'm a HORRIBLE liar. I think that's a gift in disguise.

    I'm sorry you're having this trouble. My oldest isn't yet to the play-date stage, so I'm sure we will uncover all kinds of this petty nonsense in a few short months.

    Thanks for stopping by. Hope to hear from you again!


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