There is something that has been bugging me and I battled with the idea of writing this post to share, but now I’m certain that I need to get it off my chest. And the best way I know how is to write.
Let me set the scene for you, since this one has taken place too many times to count. I’m in a public setting, could be my community center or a relative’s home for dinner. And my child is offered a soda, and I politely decline explaining that we haven’t introduced/allowed her to have soda yet (she’s 2.5 years old) and the person who offered it quickly retrieves the drink and proceeds to tell my daughter that “The soda is too spicy for you!” Or “The drink is medicine, it’s not for you”.
Should we be making a habit of using white lies to get our child to avoid/comply with a rule?
My daughter has seen us drink soda occasionally in our home, several times. We never tell her it is spicy nor medicine. Now that this person has said those words, does my daughter think we have been lying to her or that the person is making it up? Is it not confusing to a child? And is it fair to lie to her like that? Even if she is little, even if the white lie is small, or easy or convenient. Should we be making a habit of using white lies to get our child to avoid/comply with a rule?
My parents are from India, and I consider myself both Indian and American, and in our culture it is often acceptable to use this kind of lie to deter a child from doing something that we don’t approve of. Soda is medicine. Chocolate is spicy. The police will come to kidnap you if you don’t sit in your car seat or buckle your seat belt. If you don’t stop misbehaving, the doctor will give you a painful injection. And the trend goes on and on. Is it odd that I see potential danger in this kind of mentality? And at what point do we stop with these lies and actually begin to practice honesty with our children?
I apologize for the rant, and if it sounds like I am mad, because I am truly not. My mother says those kinds of things all the time to my daughters, and I grew up hearing them also. Because it is that much of a norm in our homes. But my husband and I felt that we don’t need to lie to our daughters, at least not when she is able to somewhat understand if we say no to something. Instead of lying, we just tell her that the soda is “Baba juice” or “Mummy juice”, and she can have it when she is older. Period. And the more we have said it to her, the more it became enforced and now that it is established, she doesn’t even bother asking for it anymore.
I think that’s what bothers me. My daughter doesn’t ask for it, cry for it or really care for it at all. Other people offer soda to her, and then feel the need to cover it up with a lie, and then I have to counter that and explain to her that No it isn’t spicy nor medicine. I have to do damage control over the whole thing, and it doesn’t have to be that way if she weren’t lied to in the first place. I think that lying to her is belittling and unfair, wheres we should treat her like a person. Not a person who is old enough to make their own choices, but at least a person who we can be honest with about what they can and cannot have.
Whenever I’m in a situation like that now, I go one step further and explain my reasoning to the adult, and once I’ve made my point, they often do agree.
I’m curious to know how other parents feel about this, and if you’ve ever come across a situation like this with your child. Am I crazy or overreacting? Please do share in the comments!