I am constantly amazed by the amount of parenting advice that involves outright lying to your kids. I don’t mean Santa/Toothfairy stuff… I mean, “Oh, if you want him to stop picking his nose, just tell him that a monster is going to maul his face off in his sleep.” Or “You can’t watch Elmo anymore because Elmo is dead. A pedophile killed him in his sleep.” Or “If you don’t stop playing with your weiner in the living room, it’s going to rot and fall off in your sleep.”
Usually I’m confused by “convenience lies”. They never really seem to be more effective at helping curb or stop behavior than telling the truth, and all you’ve done is chipped away at your credibility… and made your kid terrified to fall asleep. Certainly my parenting experience is limited, but I’ve found that “You can’t watch Elmo anymore because we sent it back to Netflix.” or even “because you’ve watched it enough this week” gets me the same response as a lie: tantrum over not getting to watch Elmo/not getting to pick his nose/not being allowed to play with his weiner with company in the room. But with the truth I don’t have to compromise my credibility and I get to flex my authority nuts. I also have a 2 year old who answers, “Okay!” and runs upstairs to brush his teeth when I ask him if he wants to go to bed. I pretty much win all around.
Yet there are probably times, when talking to children or adults, that lying really is easier. But better?
Do you ever lie because it’s easier or better? Is lying ever the easier or better option? Has lying ever worked in your favor in the long run?
The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear daily at 3pm ET.