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Feb 24

Honesty (with your children) is the Best Policy


Welcome to February edition of the Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival, hosted by Authentic Parenting and

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Photo by Jintae Kim

The phrase “honesty is the best policy” has been uttered by many for hundreds of years. When it comes to parents and children though, the policy is traditionally thrown out the window.

 From the tooth fairy to toys that disappear in the night, parents are setting up a system of distrust. When parents lie, not only are they modelling that lieing is in fact, acceptable, they are proving to their kids that they can’t be trusted. In the same vein, parents encourage their children to lie to them with punitive strategies. It’s a circular situation, diminshing trust between all parties and preventing healthy attachments that last a lifetime.
I’ve been a parent for over nine years now. I have four children. I have yet to lie to them. I won’t lie to you and say that there haven’t been times when a little white lie felt like it would be easier. There have definitely been those times. Relationships aren’t always easy though. Neither is parenting. They both take time and investment and dare I say even, work.
I want my relationships with my children to be built on a foundation of trust and authenticity. I want our relationships to grow as just my children grow. I don’t want to wake up one day to find a teenager I don’t know because s/he doesn’t trust me enough to tell me what is going on in his/her life or is afraid to talk to me about something. Honesty is the best policy, especially with our children.

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11 comments

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  1. Helen @ zen mummy

    I’ve been guilty of this very thing this week ~ toddler was in meltdown because she wanted to go swimming, but it was too late in the day & I was about to start making dinner, so I opted for the white lie and told her that the swimming pool had already closed. And she believed me without question. Gah, I felt rotten afterwards, I hated betraying her trust but I was exhausted and needed to get on with cooking and a million other things (excuses, excuses!). So hard sometimes not to opt for the easy answer when your reserves are running low and emotions are running high, but I am pretty annoyed at myself for giving in to the temptation to take the easy way out .

    1. Mandy

      I’ve found that when I express my needs (which is sometimes very hard for me to do), my children are quite capable of being understanding.

  2. Dionna @ Code Name: Mama

    I just revisited the “little white lie” we used tto tell Kieran about the ice cream truck (until I felt guilty about lying and fessed up). I’m proud that we have not lied to him since then, even when it’s been difficult. I always want him to know he can trust us!

    1. Momma Jorje

      What did you tell him about the ice cream truck? I seem to recall maybe seeing this somewhere, but can’t remember for sure.

  3. Marisa

    It’s interesting that you note that the saying, “honesty is the best policy” is old because for as old as it is -it feels like the concept when applied to children is brand new. Over the holidays, for instance, we were trying to explain to a friend why we felt like the tradition of Santa Claus was dishonest. I wonder, do the benefits outweigh the costs with such traditions?

    1. Mandy

      For us, part of it was making our own traditions – ones which we could feel honest and authentic about. Part of it was recognizing that our beliefs may or may not be shared by our children. So, if they want to believe something, they can. It doesn’t invalidate our beliefs. We can honor everyone without lieing or being inauthentic.

  4. Momma Jorje

    Wow, it can NOT have been easy to avoid even little white lies, much less those big ones that are so popular (such as the tooth fairy)! I’m impressed.

    1. Mandy

      It really hasn’t been that big of an issue for me. I have some deep seated issues with lies from my childhood. If I am in a situation where a person would normally lie, I will just sit there and not say anything rather than lie. The big things have never even crossed my mind but I can totally see how sometimes the little things could be easier. If my child asks if we can do something, I say no, and then he asks if the place is closed…..well, sometimes it might very well be easier to just say “Yes” instead of “No, but I am very tired and need some down time.” However, not only can I not bring myself to do it or breech their trust, my children seem to carry through and respect my needs when I just state them. They may be small, but they have huge heart sand can be very understanding.

  5. mudpiemama

    I;ve been working on a piece about lying and telling the truth – this is an interesting piece – I try to make a really conscious effort not to lie to the children just because it’s easier. we do celebrate holidays and include santa claus and easter bunny for example but we do so by telling them about the “story” of santa – like any other story book it’s about the imagination and fantasy part of it – they don’t think they are “REAL” but just part of our celebrations. Much like hearts a part of valentines day or a cake and candles for a birthday party.

  6. teresa

    it really does come down to this. Not easy, but simple. I agree, although there are times when I struggle with things she isn’t ready to know… certain realities of the world. I try to redirect or somehow give her just enough, but she is so inquisitive it can be hard to give her less than the whole story. She knows.
    It’s an ongoing process.

  7. V

    1 simple lie will leave an open door 2 too much distrust. we can love our children by only telling them the truth.

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