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Friday, May 13, 2011

Little White Lies We Tell Our Children

Wesley and Jeremy playing Rock Band, too young
to have been plagued by the McDonald's Police
We teach our children not to lie, but are we guilty of telling little white lies – to our children?

Years ago, when my kids were young, staying up until midnight on New Year's Eve was a big deal for them. It was a big deal for me too, because I worked all day and was exhausted by 10 p.m. every night. Staying up until midnight was out of the question.

Fortunately New York televised their New Year's Eve celebration an hour early so that Midwesterners who didn't want to stay up until the REAL midnight could trick their kids into watching what they thought was the actual New Year's Eve celebration.

But even 11:00 was late for me. I was exhausted. Could I stay up that late? Ugh, I could try to make it to 11 p.m.

Guilt washed over me and pushed my mom button as I looked at my bouncing and behaving children. They looked so happy. Hmpf, I HAD to stay up until 11 – for them.

So we sat in front of the TV, the kids electrified with enough energy to light New York City while I, dragging one foot behind the other, eagerly anticipated the countdown so I could go to sleep.

And for a few sweet years, I was actually able to pull it off. I managed year after year to get the kids to bed after our annual toast, big hugs, and lots of midnight (New York time) kisses.

Everything worked out fine for me – until they got old enough to tell time.

"It's not even eleven o'clock," one of my daughters whined. Great. Thank you, Educators everywhere – I am now forever doomed to stay up until midnight. Couldn't you at least have saved 'telling time' for high school?"

Oh, I was a terrible mama, lying to my babies just so I could get a good night's sleep. Nobody I knew was as deceptive as I was. As a matter of fact, I thought I was the only person who told their children little white lies – until I discovered somebody else who stretched the truth.

My oldest daughter, Keeley, was guilty of committing this crime as well. Read McDonald's Police to find out what lie she told her kids to get them to behave. What genes have I passed down to my children?

My youngest daughter, Brittney, and her husband, Scott, are not exempt from the White Lie Club, either. A few weeks ago, when their children wanted to play in the sand box at the local park, Brittney and Scott told them why they couldn't. (I'm sure it had nothing at all to do with the fact that their little bodies would have been carrying sand particles into a clean house.)

As Nolan related to me later, when we passed the sand box on the way to the park, "We can't go in the sand, because cats pee in it, right?"

Maybe it's just MY family.

But no, it isn't. Because I know somebody else who deceives her children. My son's wife, Michelle, came up with a great way to get their kids to bed on time. When I was watching them one night, Kaden told me that we couldn't watch movies past 8 because Netflix stopped working at 8:00.

So are little white lies OK or are they harmful?  Some people believe that any lie is wrong. Others think that if the lie doesn't hurt anybody, what's the harm? Still others think that little white lies are necessary:

"Do I look fat in this dress?"

"No, you look great – the dress is ugly."

In grammar school I had a nun – yes, a nun – who told the students in her classroom that it was OK for us to lie as long as we said the truth under our breath. "Yes, of course, I like you (but not really)."

So what's your position on little white lies? Are they OK or do we have to be 100% honest at all times?

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