Honesty isn’t always the best policy when it comes to reasoning with small children. Being totally honest with your children is a noble thought and in a perfect world it would certainly be considered the best practice.
However, the world isn’t perfect, and young children are not compact adults. In fact, the world is too complex and dangerous to expect the under-seven crowd to grasp the total truth on most issues. It’s hard enough trying to get them to grasp personal hygiene, let alone an ugly reality.
Young children possess limited reasoning and coping skills. Just because a child is old enough to ask if his military dad might die in Afghanistan doesn’t mean he should carry the burden of worry every day that his father could be killed.
Lies come in all shades, sizes, and colors. My rules for what constitutes a legal parental lie have more to do with childhood fantasy, health, hygiene, and safety.
If you’re not sure about what constitutes what I call a permissible lie, here is my basic rule of thumb. One day, with a little more age and maturity, my child will not only realize I lied, but also understand why — all in the span of one epiphany.
Establishing truth and trust is important for a healthy, happy childhood. You tell stories to your children and keep them safe, and build trust in your relationship as they grow. Wise parents will do so without destroying their innocence.
A few well-placed lies, or crafted stories handed down from generation to generation, can color a childhood with imagination, protect children from their immaturity, and shield children from the adult burden of understanding the truth of real evil.
From the most harmless fibs to verbal shields of protection, here are six lies we tell our children.