Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pants On Fire

"Daddy, can I have some of that chocolate?"

"This chocolate right here? Nah, you don't want this chocolate, it's nasty."

"If it's nasty, why you eating it? Why did you eat the whole pack of chocolates?"

"Sometimes grown-ups like to eat nasty stuff, remember how I liked liver and onions and you hated it?"


"Well, this chocolate tastes kind of like that, like liver and onions. You don't want liver an onions chocolate right?"

"No, I don't want that."

"Good, now go grab the remote for daddy and then go play."

The above conversation is fictional. Despite my online name, I do not eat whole packs of chocolate in a single sitting. Now, if we talking about Cool Ranch Doritos, well I'll admit to making that mistake once or twice. But, I digress.

I wrote the above conversation because it seemed like something that would happen in many American homes. A child starts asking uncomfortable questions or making demands, and a parent responds with a little white lie to smooth things over. Nothing and nobody is really hurt, since the child will probably one day laugh at the fact that he thought chocolate tasted like liver and onions.

Or, he might hate your guts.

According to this study there is an epidemic of dishonesty among parents. It appears that when the going gets tough, parents get to lying.

I don't have a lying problem. My momma beat that out of me when she caught me lying about vacuuming her room when I was seven years old. And folks say spanking doesn't work.

It's not that I don't get the urge to spin some tall ones for my little ones. Sometimes when my oldest is asking me questions, it seems much easier to answer with a little lie, then try to break down the truth. Yet, as far as I can remember, I've resisted the urge. I don't know if that means I'm really honesty, or that I have a selective memory.

Anyway, I know it seems cute to tell our kids these little lies to shut them up, but I wonder about the long-term effects of our falsehoods. When the truth is finally revealed, what happens to the parent-child relationship? I guess it's ok when they find out about Santa Claus, but what about when they find about that their "Auntie" Angie, is really the mother of their half-brothers and sisters?

My opposition to lying today is biblical now that the scars from my beating have worn off. I often wonder though if God permits some lies when they serve the greater good, or if they are always a sin. I guess it's one of those questions I'll never get answered definitively. Anyway, what I do know is that if you're one of those parents, or just plain adults, who thinks that lying to kids is no big deal you need to know one thing.

You ain't alone.



Gye Greene said...

Seems like the problem with lying to your kids to get out of stuff, is that you're setting an example that it's OK to lie to get out of stuff. Instead of owning up.


Deacon Blue said...

I don't know...I take a pretty much case-by-case on this. I don't lie to get out of a pickle or to convince my child of something patently incorrect (like my candy tastes nasty).

However, in younger days, the wife and I would create imaginary threats to help keep Little Girl Blue in proper bounds of behavior. Many times during the ages of 2 and 3 was she reminded that the Oogie Monster was attracted to the smell of children who don't bathe.

It seemed a lot more humane to us at the time than beating her ass for arguing about bath time. ;-)

T.A.N. Man said...

I thought I posted this last night.

I was reading "The Bible Answer Book," by Hank Hanegraaff. "While the Bible never condones lying qua lying, it does condone lying in order to preserve a higher moral imperative [e.g, Rahab] ... There is a difference between lying and not telling the truth ... In the case of a lie (Annanias and Sapphira, Acts 5) there is an unjustified discrepancy between what you believe and what you say, and so lying is always wrong. But not telling the truth in order to preserve a higher moral law (Rahab, Joshua 2) may well be the right thing to do and thus is not actually a lie.

What do you think?

T.A.N. Man said...

My bad, I ommitted the final quoation, but that entire passage is a quote from the book.

Tit for Tat said...

When my daughter asked me if I did drugs, I looked her right in the eye and said "Never". I will deal with the fallout later. She doesnt need to know that shit at this age.

Big Man said...

Lol at Tit for Tat. You gonna pay for that later.


I believe that witholding the truth is not the same as lying. I just read some commentary on that very topic the other day. I think that if you withold the truth to deceive, it's a problem, but if you withold the truth for a higher purpose, not really. For example.

Wife: I can't believe I'm so fat after having this baby. Doesn't my stuck look big?

The truth might be that her stomach is looking bigger than it was and thus big, but it would be cruel to point this out. Instead we, as men, might say "You look wonderful to me." This ducks the stomach question and instead focuses on the larger truth. I think that's cool.

Tit for Tat said...

The truth might be that her stomach is looking bigger than it was and thus big, but it would be cruel to point this out.(Big Man)

I guess the comment "more fun to the ton" wouldnt work eh. lol. ;)

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

Interesting post. I think that parents and people in general lie as much - if not more - by omission.

Raving Black Lunatic