We all lie. Even the most truthful of us have told a fib at one time or another. Ever have a telemarketer call the house and you pretend you aren’t you? Or when your mother calls, you tell your spouse to tell her you’re busy? We tend to think of these as unimportant mistruths, that won’t hurt anyone, and, in fact, might make your day easier. At the end of the day, though, they are still lies.
Recent studies done by Parenting.com/Today.com and Netmums.com, a British-based website, found that new-moms tend to lie more than previously believed. In fact, to some, the numbers were quite surprising:
*According to Parenting, 85% of the 27,000 moms surveyed admitted to lying to get out of social obligations.
*Netmums surveyed 5,000 moms and found:
*2/3 lied to other mothers
*50% lied about financial situations
*25% lied about how much television they allowed their children to watch
*20% exaggerated about how much time they spend playing with their children
*Parenting.com also found that parents tend to lie to their children more than to others.
Many moms were surprised at how often they lied, and how easily! But is it something to worry about? Does it send the wrong message to their children?
Let’s be honest…they may be valid reasons to avoid the truth. We live in a society where we are judged constantly. Lying helps parents to cope with the pressure, especially when they feel that they have expectations that they must meet. If you are the only one not giving your child organic foods, it may be easier to just go along with what every one else is saying to avoid the looks, comments and remarks. Very often, we lie to avoid feeling embarrassed or “less than” in some way.
Additionally, there are certain elements of childhood that would be lost if we didn’t lie! There would be no tooth fairy, Easter bunny, Santa, Hanukkah Harry or other childhood fantasies. Sometimes, children also are not ready for the truth, so parents lie to protect them. Parents also report lying to avoid meltdowns or tantrums. Although, not the most effective strategy in the long run, sometimes it just needs to happen. When you have to be somewhere at a certain time, avoiding the fit is sometimes mandatory, one mom told me. She’s been known to tell her children some fibs to get things moving along, and, although she knows it isn’t a long term solution, it does help in the moment.
Unfortunately, moms (and dads too) aren’t only lying to their children. Because of the fear of being judged, parents may lie to their pediatricians. Certainly, not the person you want to be lying to, especially as the doctor needs to really know what is going on in order to provide the best treatment to your child.
And what happens when your child is old enough to catch you in your lie? It’s then that you have to recognize that honesty is really the best policy. Most fibs will not create any kind of long-term problem, especially when what you are lying about is not very significant. The long-term problems can develop when you avoid discussing problems that do impact your children directly, especially when they ask you about it. Children are incredibly intuitive, and there may be times that you have to share things with them, even when you don’t want to do so. Be sure to make the discussion age appropriate. Talking about the tough stuff will build trust and encourage your child to talk with you openly down the road.
Choose your battles wisely, and your fibs carefully. At the end of the day, you want to build trust within your child so that he or she will come to you to discuss his/her problems. If he/she doesn’t think you will be honest, it might not promote their talking with you openly. And that’s the whole truth.