Confession: I lie to my children.
Before becoming a parent, I swore that I would never lie to my kids, that I would always be open and honest with them. But now that I'm a mommy of two, I realize that for me, lying is an essential part of parenting. I'm not proud of this fact, but in some cases, I've tried everything else imaginable, and nothing else has worked.
Fact: Lying makes my toddler sleep.
For about 3-4 months, my toddler wouldn't sleep. I tried crying it out, I tried rocking him to sleep, I tried playing music, and I tried letting him sleep in my bed. I tried giving him warm milk, rubbing his back, and even the Supernanny "sit in the room with your back to them" method. I literally tried everything.
One night, way past my breaking point, I had to pee and didn't want him to scream his brains out while I left, so I placed him in his crib, gave him a little pat on the back, and said "Mommy just has to go pee, I'll be right back, ok? No fuss, mommy will be right back". And you know what? While I was in the washroom, I came to the monumental realization: he was lying there, quietly waiting for me to come back. He didn't have any sense of time, so he had no idea how long he had been waiting for me. He just waited quietly for my return. I tested it out and didn't go back in, and you know what? He fell asleep peacefully - no tears.
Ever since then, I have done this almost every night. I go through the regular bed time routine, and when it's time, he points to his bed and settles in with his comfort toy. As I creep towards the door, he whines a bit, and I whisper, "mommy's going pee, I'll be right back, I love you". He rolls over, and he's out in minutes. Don't judge me, it works.
Fact: Lying to my 4 year old makes her listen.
Brushing my girl's teeth used to be a nightmare. I had tried asking nicely, using the firm mommy voice, singing songs, letting her do it, reading stories. Nothing worked. One day I decided to tell her a little story about sugar bugs. She had recently watched How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and was disgusted by his behaviour. Why didn't he have friends I explained? Because look at his teeth? He ate garbage and had stinky breath. He never brushed his teeth, and therefore had sugar bugs crawling all over his mouth. What did sugar bugs do? Eat holes in his teeth, making them black and rotten. What? You don't want to look like the Grinch and have sugar bugs rotting your teeth? Well let mommy help you, let's zap those sugar bugs away.
She passed her first dental visit with flying colours, loves brushing her teeth, and even asks me to double check to make sure the sugar bugs are gone when she's done. Bad mommy? Maybe. Great dental hygeine? Definitely.
Let's face it, we lie to our kids all the time to enhance their imagination, keep them young, allow them to enjoy the innocence of childhood. Why not benefit a little from it too? Our parents lied to us too:
"Don't pee in the pool or red dye will appear around you and everyone will know that you peed"
"I have eyes on the back of my head"
"If you keep making silly faces like that, your face will stay that way"
"Santa's watching and deciding if you'll be on the nice list or the naughty list"
When you think about it, your childhood was full of these little lies. I don't think these fibs have traumatized me, in fact, I think I turned out alright! Maybe in part because my parents convinced me to listen to them with their little made-up stories.
I'm convinced that the act of lying was invented (discovered) by a parent. Think about it.
What are some little lies you've told your children? Or have you been successful with pure honesty?