Saturday, September 13, 2008

Why I'll never lie to my kids

It was a concept that just made sense to me: never tell my children a lie. Period. I had no idea that once I had children, this would be tested time and again, not only by my children, but by well-intentioned adults and fellow parents. You know the "little lies" that are not a big deal: the candy's all gone, I don't know where your kazoo is, Santa, the Easter bunny, the tooth fairy. The latter were big deals in my husband's house growing up; no length was too far to go to squeeze out that one extra year of magical belief. Fake tracks in the snow (from the Easter bunny . . . who did you think I meant? Santa? Remember this is the frozen tundra I'm talking about, where there is still snow at EASTER!), the sounds of bells on Christmas Eve . . . you get the idea. (My in-laws are wonderful Christian people, by the way, who I hope will inspire such enthusiasm for the magic of childhood in my own kids . . . as long as they don't break my honesty rule!)

For me, personally, I couldn't get past the thought that one day my child might think, "Hey, you told me Santa was real and that turned out to be just a fairy tale . . . why should I not question this whole God thing, too?" Now, I realize that good and godly parents disagree on this topic; millions of Christian children undoubtedly grow up being led to believe in Santa without eventually questioning the existence of God. I made the decision that, for me, it was not worth the risk. I purposed in my heart when my first child was born that, to the best of my ability, I would NEVER tell that child something I knew to be false. (Allowing, of course, for age-appropriate explanations that did not contain falsehoods. Also, we do not "ban" Santa or any of the above-mentioned characters; we just make sure our kids know that it's all make-believe.)

Yesterday Joshua discovered that you can print step-by-step instructions on how to draw various Star Wars characters on the SW web site. (I won't link it because it's not entirely kid-friendly. My boys do not use that site unsupervised.) So, he was at the kitchen table working studiously on a drawing when he had to take a potty break. Apparently, he didn't dry his hands well enough after washing because when he got back to the table, he made a few wet spots on his paper. If you've read my blog for any length of time (yes, I realize one post is usually quite a length of time around here), you know that Josh is a pretty intense child. He was upset that his construction paper was wet as he was almost finished with his drawing. I told him that it would dry and not to worry about it. "But, it has two big dark spots on it," he lamented. "I know, but when it dries, you won't be able to see them anymore." He paused for a minute and then said, "You're just trying to make me feel better." "I am trying to make you feel better," I said, "but would I tell you something that isn't true just to make you feel better?" No, he agreed, I would not.

I love that he knows that and that he never truly questions it. I grew up knowing that if my parents said something was so, I could take it to the bank. It's important to me that my kids feel the same way.


Jawan said...

We, too, have told our kids that Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, etc, is make-believe. I just hope it doesn't bring a phone call from a classmate's angry parent one day. Then again, it will be an opportunity to share the gospel.

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