Monday, April 2, 2012

Pinocchio Has Nothing on Me

I lie to my kids... a lot. In fact, I prefer to lie to them than to tell them the truth sometimes. It's just a way of life here, so I didn't think much about it, until my sister's boyfriend brought it to her attention that we do lie to them a lot, and maybe, just maybe, it's cruel.

I say cruel schmuel... but I may be biased.

Here's the story, so y'all can help me out with this one...

Hubby is coming home Saturday. I'm super stoked, and Hubby and I talked about whether or not to tell the kids. The last time he came home, we chose not to tell them, but instead planned an elaborate surprise (video can be seen here) that the kids knew nothing about. It went just as we planned, and was quite amazing, considering the kids hadn't seen their father in 10 months.

This time around, we chose to tell them, so that they can ride to the airport with me, and have the excitement build the closer it gets to him being here.

That's how the lying thing was brought up. My sister's boyfriend asked her if the kids knew about their dad coming home this time, to which she told him yes, we had decided to tell them. He replied, 'Sometimes I feel sorry for the kids; you all are always lying to them about stuff, and yeah, it has a good outcome and all, but I just feel bad.'

Wow. Never thought of it like that, seriously.

I'm the type of mom that doesn't tell my kids what's coming up. Why? In case it doesn't happen. I don't want
to tell them all week that we're going to go to the zoo on Saturday, then have it rain horribly and we're stuck in the apartment all weekend, listening to them whine about how we were supposed to be at the zoo.

And, in all honesty, it not only keeps them on their toes, but keeps them guessing, which means I'm always in control. Moms need all the help we can get.

So, in thinking back over the past month alone, I kept The Stinky Cheese Man play a secret from them and just took them, my daughter's birthday plans a secret, and this weekend taking them to see 'Mirror, Mirror' (AWESOME movie, by the way) was a secret, too. The other weekends we were just lazy, or cleaned the house.

And yes, sometimes I outright lied to them; told them we were going grocery shopping, then we ended up downtown at the theater, or told them we were doing absolutely nothing and then made them get dressed in a hurry and rush out the door to catch the 12:10 showing of a movie.

My favorite thing is to tell them we're too broke to do anything, then take them out shopping. It's hilarious.

Anyway, I really never saw a problem with this until my sister's boyfriend spoke up. Then I started to analyze it, from an outside viewpoint.

I am always lying to my kids, which can't be setting a great example for them. I mean, they are good lies, but is there really such a thing as a good lie?

They never really have anything to look forward to, as well. They think every weekend we are going to do nothing, or clean the apartment, and then bam! Mommy takes them somewhere amazing. Surprise factor is awesome, but they didn't have time to build up excitement for it like a kid should.

Oh my gosh- I just realized I'm also taking away a blackmail chip when I don't tell them our plans. No, 'If you don't clean your room then we are sooooo not going to see that movie this weekend.' Damn, that's a strike against me, for sure. Never thought of that.

And, a final devil's advocate point, as my sister's boyfriend brought up, it has to confuse my kids greatly. Told every weekend that we're doing nothing, then one weekend we're off to downtown to see a play. That means, the next weekend when they are told we are doing nothing, they could falsely get their hopes up that another awesome surprise is planned, just to be disappointed, when we actually do sit around do nothing.

Damn, I hate it when I can argue both sides of a debate.

So, to summarize, we have

Pros of Lying to Kids

  • Keeps them on their toes
  • Don't have to listen to them whine if plans fall through
  • Keeps me in control
  • Surprise factor is awesome
Cons of Lying to Kids
  • Lying is bad (mmmkaaayyyy)
  • Don't look forward to anything
  • Lose a blackmail chip
  • Confuses kids
Double damn it- 4 pros and 4 cons. Son of a.... Now what do I do?

I could evenly distribute the lying vs. not lying, you know, tell them about some of our weekend adventures, but not all of them. Or, I could just pick a side and stick to it.

What do you all think? Am I a mom who stands alone on the lying to my kids, or are their other moms who adopt the philosophy I do? Is honestly always the best policy, or are their such things as 'good lies'? Please, share your comments below!

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  1. Ummmmmm My kids detest surprises, especially the 14 year old. In fact, any kind of last minute change is a bad thing in his opinion. We warn him in advance if at all possible. Honestly, I try not to lie to my kids. If I have something planned, I just don't mention it. When their dad's been gone, they usually know when he's coming home. There was that one time that he was in Iraq, and *I* didn't even know he was coming home. He just showed up.

    So, I would say stop lying. I really don't want my kids lying to me, so I don't lie to them. If you want to surprise them, just do so. That's my 2 cents. And, Santa Clause just doesn't count.

  2. Keeping a secret in order to surprise them, is not technically a lie - it's keeping a secret. NO biggie! I don't know how old your kids are, but I'd start toning down the lies. They will learn one day that you lie to them and how would you like it when they start doing that to you? (Oh no the golden rule) Bottomline, it's about BALANCE!!! Isn't everything? But it sounds like you do it a lot so EAZE into the change.

    My parents kept things from us as to not worry us. We kids always thought our folks had more money than in reality, they did. They just felt it was non of our business. Plus I don't think they wanted us to fink to all the neighbors our family business.

    I think it's great that you are looking at this - Fun post!

  3. Yeah, the more I think about it, the more I need to try a different approach. Thanks for y'alls comments!!