No matter how hard you stress the importance of honesty, kids will still lie. It’s human nature.
My kid isn’t even 3 and I’ve already seen it happening. I’m not always sure that’s he truly lying about not having pooped or if he’s just so used to having poop in his pants that he can’t tell the difference, but sometimes he’s lying about it. Because he doesn’t want his diaper changed. Because he’s gross. But I digress.
Dealing with lying children is part of being a parent. I knew that going in, and I’m ready for it.
But I didn’t know how much lying I’d be doing.
Pro tip: Kids will believe anything. Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Jesus, democracy. They’ll buy it all, especially if a parent is selling it. And now that I’m dealing with an increasingly curious and willful toddler, my house is like Amazon. I’m selling more BS than any politician.
Let’s be clear. I am not lying to my kid about anything significant or in an attempt to pervert his worldview. No sinister reasons like that. I’m lying to my son purely as a matter of convenience, also known as: the reason for 90 percent of all parenting decisions.
Kids are such a pain so much of the time that when you have an opportunity to make things even a little bit easier for yourself, you’ve got to take it. Sure, maybe lying to my son all the time will backfire and result in a dishonest person who eventually becomes president of the United States, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
So yeah, I lie to my son. And I’ll keep lying. Especially when he asks me why I drink so much because screaming “YOU!” in his face isn’t appropriate.
Once my kid started talking, he hasn’t stopped asking questions. There is just nothing easy about satisfying a toddler’s curiosity. Why? Because they often can’t understand factual explanations and because they just enjoy being annoying and asking annoying questions and annoyingly annoying you in the most annoying way possible. So lying becomes a necessity for parents, both because you don’t always know the factual explanations and because FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, SHUT UP!
Lying by example
Example 1: If we’re trying to get the kid to nap or go to sleep, we’ll tell him we’re going to bed, too! Even if it’s barely 8 p.m. And by “going to bed,” we mean “having three martinis and passing out when Stephen Colbert gets to the interview.” But he doesn’t need to know that because he needs to go to sleep. BBy any means necessary.
Example 2: If we’re trying to get out of the house and he refuses to leave because he can’t find his little stuffed dog, we’ll tell him the dog went out for a walk and that it would be home when he got back because the little moron doesn’t understand that stuffed animals are inanimate objects, and get your shoes on dammit, we’re going to be late!
Example 3: If he’s acting like a twerp and it’s at least relatively close to Christmas, we’ll tell him Santa is going to drop a grenade down the chimney instead of any presents so GET DOWN OFF THE FURNITURE AND EAT YOUR DINNER!
Obviously, none of those things are true. I’m not even sure we have a martini shaker (of course we do — have you met my wife?). But those lies, or things like them, can be effective. There’s an entire industry built around lying during the Christmas season, with Santa’s list and “Elf on the Shelf” and virgin births and all that jazz. Because when it comes to manipulating children, lying is effective, at least in the short term. Which is usually all you need.
The trouble comes later, when the kid somehow remembers one of those lies. You’re stuck having to explain that you and mommy aren’t actually professional wrestlers like those guys on TV. And, no, you were just wrestling that one morning and, hey, look over there, your stuffed dog came back!