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Thread: Little white lies to children

  1. #1

    Default Little white lies to children

    Hello all. I know its been a while since, I've posted on here due to work, but I finally get to take a vacation due to it being the holidays. Somethings been pondering me ever sense my friend mentioned adopting a child when he gets older and the plans he had in store for him/her. From what he told me, it made wonder; have you ever thought about all the things parents told you when you were young?

    Like for example the Easter Bunny, "Where babies come from", Santa, the Tooth Fairy etc. Well it got me wondering... is it okay to tell children "little white lies" growing up and letting them learn the truth of the matter on their own later, or should you be honest with a child from the beginning? I know there are Pros and Cons to both of them.

    Some Pros include:
    Children get to feel magic is real, thus broadening their imagination. (It did wonders for Walt Disney,) they have something to really look forward to as a child, and it can help keep them innocent before they learn the real truths about the world.

    Some Cons include:
    When they do learn the truth, some children feel devastated that they were lied to by their own parents which can lead to withdrawal towards the parent and or adults in general, they can then start to doubt what is and isn't true which can lead to "trust no one" (even if its subconsciously,) and other things that are similar to that nature.

    I don't think I will ever have children, but for the rare event that I do, I don't know if I could teach them to believe in such things. I mean when you get down to it, isn't it a lie that you're telling? I myself see it on a scale as the government being the parent, and the citizens being the children. They lie to us constantly for reasons that can be considered similar to those as parents to their children.

    I do apologize for this being so long. I wanted it to be shorter, but when I started typing, more came out than I thought would Anyway thanks for reading and any feedback would be welcome

    ~Rubix

  2. #2

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    Have you seriously ever EVER heard of a child that's 'withdrawn from their parents' and 'never been able to trust again' because they found out Santa wasn't real?

    Cos I've worked with kids A LOT and never ever witnessed that.

    It sounds like some ridiculous psycho-babble coming from someone who's never seen a kid excited on Christmas day because Santa's been...

  3. #3

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    I myself no. I'm going simply by psychologist on the whole pros and cons for the most part. I'm not really going on the Cons and Pros. Its really there to give readers ideas on seeing the possible good and bad to both. I mean I personally don't think anything bad like that would happen, but some believe a underline to some people's problems have been because they were lied to by their parents.

    Edit: Looking past that, I'm asking if its right or wrong to lie to your children. Not just about Santa, but in general.

    ~Rubix

  4. #4

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    Well, white lies aren't too bad. When a kid asks where do babies come from and their only 3-5, I don't expect anyone to explain the mechanics of such a thing to a kid... so we make up the story of a stork or some sort. And sometimes, a little white lie can amuse a kid or even help teach kids. You always tell the kid that the stove is hot and you should never touch it, even when you know its off. Making little lies about trivial things doesn't really harm the kid, and when they get older, you can explain them more clearly about things.

    Now stuff like the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny, Santa, and such... I see as more family traditions.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by KittyHeart View Post
    Well, white lies aren't too bad. When a kid asks where do babies come from and their only 3-5, I don't expect anyone to explain the mechanics of such a thing to a kid... so we make up the story of a stork or some sort. And sometimes, a little white lie can amuse a kid or even help teach kids. You always tell the kid that the stove is hot and you should never touch it, even when you know its off. Making little lies about trivial things doesn't really harm the kid, and when they get older, you can explain them more clearly about things.

    Now stuff like the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny, Santa, and such... I see as more family traditions.
    Yeah I can definitely see where you're coming from. I mean I'm pretty sure you can't tell children everything when they're young (like where babies come from etc.) for multiple reasons, but when its a white lie not used to protect them from danger and keep them out of trouble, but rather unnecessarily told for whatever other reason, is that okay? I mean I really love kids and I'm all up for making them happy. I'd go through extraordinary lengths to make my child happy given the case I ever have one, but does that mean its okay to tell a fib to a child as long as it makes him/her happy?

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by RubixFox View Post
    Yeah I can definitely see where you're coming from. I mean I'm pretty sure you can't tell children everything when they're young (like where babies come from etc.) for multiple reasons, but when its a white lie not used to protect them from danger and keep them out of trouble, but rather unnecessarily told for whatever other reason, is that okay? I mean I really love kids and I'm all up for making them happy. I'd go through extraordinary lengths to make my child happy given the case I ever have one, but does that mean its okay to tell a fib to a child as long as it makes him/her happy?
    So, we talking about lies that have no merit to the kids well-being, and just lies that make the day seem a little brighter but in the end is total fiction. I bet it depends on whatever it is. I don't remember learning the truth of Santa Claus damaging my psychological state.

    But as you asked "...does that mean its okay to tell a fib to a child as long as it makes him/her happy?", I say yeah. I'm all for cheering a kid up, and if it doesn't harm the kid (nor too big of a thing to lie about) its okay to tell a small lie. I wouldn't make it a habit though.

  7. #7
    crazykittensmile

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    Quote Originally Posted by RubixFox View Post
    I mean I'm pretty sure you can't tell children everything when they're young (like where babies come from etc.)
    In my experience children can understand where babies come from as young as 2 or 3. I wasn't even 3 when my Mum got pregnant with my brother, and she explained a child friendly version of how babies were made to me (When a mummy and a daddy love each other very much they have a special cuddle, the daddy puts his willy into the mummy to put a special seed in her tummy, where the baby grows) and I don't see any reason to lie to children about where they came from. And in fact being honest with children about the facts of life has been proven to reduce teenage pregnancy rates and STDs in young people etc. I would never lie to my child about important things, like where babies come from for example.

    However, I don't really see telling a child about Father Christmas as a 'lie.' It's just a story, like telling your child the story of Red Riding Hood or Cinderella. When I open a story book about talking animals to read to children I don't start by sitting down and saying, "Now children, just so you know animals don't really talk or wear clothes and actually the events in this story are totally unrealistic. It's just a story, and not to be confused by the truth.' even though pre-school children often believe the characters from their favourite books, films and TV shows are real. I think Father Christmas and the tooth fairy etc are a similar thing. We tell children stories about them, and through those stories, actors and a few staged events (swapping teeth for money, leaving presents whilst the kids are asleep etc) they believe them, but once children become old enough to question whether they can actually be real most parents come clean and admit to their children that they're not true. Children may be upset to discover that they're not real, but usually through disappointment that the beautiful thing they believed is false, rather than anger that their parents lied. I don't think many children would associated being told about Father Christmas as being lied to, after all Father Christmas is an international thing. Even when, as a child, you find out that Father Christmas isn't real you know there are thousands of other children who think he is, usually children younger than you, and so it's kind of exciting that now you get to be in on the big grown-up 'secret' that he's not real. Certainly I don't think there are any problems with letting children participate in the traditional childish beliefs of their culture, such as Father Christmas, the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny and the belief and 'lie' is so widespread I doubt many, if any, children would see it as being lied to. If children felt like that then they would have carried that anger/resentment into adulthood and wouldn't have passed on the tradition to their own children, which, seeing as parents still carry them on with their children today we can probably assume hasn't happened.

    That said, I do think being honest with children is important, and I wouldn't start lying to them unnecessarily or start telling them lies to coerce or scare them into doing something (eg: Go to bed or the bogeyman will come and get you), but I think the more traditional stories about Santa etc are part of our culture, and I think it would be really sad to stop passing them on to our children just because of some psychobabble about it possible damaging a child's ability to trust adults.

  8. #8

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    On a few things I don't see it telling a lie as much as instilling values into the kids, on others there better be a reason like to protect the child. As for specific things:

    Santa-all kids will likely realize he is not a person (though there was at one time a St. Nick) but is the one that represents the spirit of giving and the holidays. As such they might answer the question of "do you believe in Santa" like this "I believe in him as the spirit of giving/christmas, but not as a person I can write to" which incidently is the answer I keep in my mind even at my age.

    Easter Bunny-This I find falls more into the symbolism for the season, so I am not sure how to handle this one.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by babyjess View Post
    In my experience children can understand where babies come from as young as 2 or 3. I wasn't even 3 when my Mum got pregnant with my brother, and she explained a child friendly version of how babies were made to me (When a mummy and a daddy love each other very much they have a special cuddle, the daddy puts his willy into the mummy to put a special seed in her tummy, where the baby grows) and I don't see any reason to lie to children about where they came from. And in fact being honest with children about the facts of life has been proven to reduce teenage pregnancy rates and STDs in young people etc. I would never lie to my child about important things, like where babies come from for example.
    Now that's what I call food for thought. I can agree with you for the most part and can understand/applaud such an answer.



    However, I don't really see telling a child about Father Christmas as a 'lie.' It's just a story, like telling your child the story of Red Riding Hood or Cinderella. When I open a story book about talking animals to read to children I don't start by sitting down and saying, "Now children, just so you know animals don't really talk or wear clothes and actually the events in this story are totally unrealistic. It's just a story, and not to be confused by the truth.' even though pre-school children often believe the characters from their favourite books, films and TV shows are real.
    Now opening a book and telling a story is just that, a story. Now telling them that the entire story is true when you know its a fairy tale on the other hand would be taking a story and turning it into fib. Unless you add "true" before story, its indicated that what you're telling is a tale. Would the child feel lied to or show any of the other symptoms psychologist try to make you believe? I'm pretty sure the child wont. Its not a matter of side effects from a child. I'm pretty sure in most cases, nothing negative would happen by telling a little fib. But because nothing bad would happen, does that make it okay?



    That said, I do think being honest with children is important, and I wouldn't start lying to them unnecessarily or start telling them lies to coerce or scare them into doing something (eg: Go to bed or the bogeyman will come and get you), but I think the more traditional stories about Santa etc are part of our culture, and I think it would be really sad to stop passing them on to our children just because of some psychobabble about it possible damaging a child's ability to trust adults.
    I did come up with something going by your post. I still do believe it can't be completely right to tell a white lie, but at the same time, you can tell them the true stories behind things (Ex: The story of Saint Nick) and let their imagination take over from there. Like give them an inch and let them walk a mile with it. Let them come up with their own ideas based off stories and such instead of feeding them what isn't true. Or telling the truth but also telling them "we'll celebrate it as if it was true."

  10. #10

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    fairy tales and traditions going back generations are a lot different in my mind then telling lies, white lies, half truths etc. i see it being no different then telling a story....or when you read a fantasy book. sure the act of lying is essentially saying something that isnt true but i think we as society draw lines in the sand as far as what is an acceptable "story" to tell and what isnt.

    something else.....some families have generational secrets.......great great grandpa was a child molestor or uncle paul was a serial killer or some one in the family killed their wife and so he is in no longer with us cause he got the death penalty. it is a lie to tell the next generation each one of these people died in car accidents but would the truth be worse than the lie....? i think lies for gain or to hurt some one(intentional or not) are bad other wise.....what is the big deal?

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