In my last article, “6 Lies You Should Tell Your Kids,” I explained my definition of a “legal” fib:
One day, with a little more age and maturity, he will not only realize I lied, but also understand why — all in the span of one epiphany.
As a child’s logic and understanding of the world develop, the fable’s truth materializes. Maturity comes with his newly acquired wisdom and understanding, not devastation at the loss of a perceived reality.
By breaking this one simple rule, you risk delivering a major blow to his ability to trust.
Disclaimer: I’m not a psychologist — I don’t even play one on TV — but even I know the following lies, from the most common to the unbelievable, can deliver lifelong problems.
5.”Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus.”
I’m amazed by the complaints of former children who still resent their parents’ attempts to create a magical Christmas. The lie (obviously a family tradition) once exposed casts a round, but dark, shadow over their relationship with their parents. For some, this experience shaped their parenting philosophy. This single fabrication has produced enough backlashes to merit a place on this list.
In a powerful blog post titled “The Devastating Power of Lies in a Relationship,” Donald Miller shares his experience of being lied to by two friends. Within his analysis of his own feelings, he articulates some universal truths about deception and its impact on our relationships. Although he writes of lies between friends, they still hold true for children.
When my friends lied, I felt disrespected and unimportant. They didn’t seem to care about me or trust me enough to tell the truth. This made me feel bad about myself, as though I were not important or trustworthy enough to be told the truth.
When I found out the extent of one of the lies, I felt like a fool. … I felt tricked and deceived. Again, without meaning to, she’d made me feel bad about myself because I felt like somebody who could be conned.
The extent that some children experience these feelings relates to both the depth they believed in the story and the degree parents fought to preserve the illusion. There always comes a time for truth to replace childhood fantasy. Parents cross the line of trust when the child believed the parent over his own better judgment.
I do not believe in telling lies to children or to anyone else. The sole exception would be lies told to save innocent human life: telling the Gestapo (or the lynch mob) that you don’t know where their intended victim is.
For instance, tell your children the truth about “Santa Claus.” The life of Saint Nikola of Myra is a far more inspiring story than any folk legend about “Santa Claus” could ever be. “Saint Nick” is a man that you and your children should try to emulate! The real “Saint Nick” was a HERO who fought against tyranny and injustice.
This is also the path my children have taken for their families as well– so far with no known harmful side effects.
However, a truth told in exaggeration is still a lie that can hurt…