Telling the truth to our children all the time is not always possible. Here is how we handle it.
- Truth at all cost is never an option – Kids deserve the truth as often as we can tell it, but we will lie when necessary. This is usually only when the cost of the truth is a loss of innocence, or if the truth could have a negative long-term impact on a child. No child needs the blunt version of truth for every single question they ask.
- Whenever we can we tell our kids the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. – Kids are perceptive. They are asking questions many time to affirm that what they think they know is true. Usually it is. So tell the truth, give the details, share the sad, the scary, the funny, the hopeful. Use the truth as a way to teach, to uplift, and to give our kids a different view into the world.
- Whenever we can’t we tell our kids an edited age-appropriate version of the truth. – recent transitions from elementary school to middle school have brought a new reality about the truth into our family. Health Class (aka Sexual Education) in addition to the inaccurate social information that travels the hallways and dwells at the lunch tables. There have been many questions brought home, and many conversations that began in elementary school as bare fact basics that we are now expanding on. We share the most age-appropriate version of the truth, and we make sure small ears hear less, and older ears hear more.
- Sometimes we honestly answer questions with “I’m sorry, but I can’t answer that question or explain that situation until you are older” – If I have to look up the answer on Urban Dictionary, this is usually the answer the oldest child gets. Sometimes there just isn’t a way to tell an age-appropriate truth.
- Sometimes we lie. Yep, we lie about the Tooth Fairy, Santa, and that the giant mouse at Disneyland is the REAL Mickey Mouse. But we also lie about other things purely in the best interest of our children. “It isn’t scary” “it tastes great” “there is no way we can afford that video game system (because Santa is bringing it for Christmas)” We lie to protect, to shelter, and to help our children be brave, confident, curious, and honest. Sounds a little backwards doesn’t it. But how can a growing child determine how to accurately gauge the volume of truth, the necessity of truth, the feeling of being lied to, or the feeling of getting caught in a lie. My children have caught my lies. And they have learned by my willingness to acknowledge my sin, apologize, and make amends.
How do you walk the parenting line between the truth and the lies?