Friday, February 22, 2013

Guilty Children?


Welcome to the February 2013 Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Honesty

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by Authentic Parenting and Living Peacefully with Children. This month our participants have written about authenticity through honesty. We hope you enjoy this month's posts and consider joining us next month when we share about Self-Expression and Conformity.

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I once saw a documentary about how young children that lie are smarter than those that don't. The show didn't encourage lying, but made a valid point. The child that realizes they can tell you something that isn't true and you won't know otherwise has a good understanding on a complex idea.

I remember, as a child, being accused of things that I didn't do. How can you prove your innocence as a kid? This has had a huge effect on me, as a parent. If/when my children lie to me, I feel powerless to do anything about it unless I have undeniable proof of my accusation. This has been crippling as a disciplinarian. My husband helps to balance me, but I still strongly resist consequences for misdeeds that can't be proven.


Sasha thought she was in trouble
when I caught her "red-handed."

In general, we encourage honesty in our home. Consequences for a misdeed confessed are much easier than those for misdeeds discovered. If someone asks my opinion, I find a nice way to be honest. This is different than being blatantly honest. I think there is a fine line in realizing you can be honest without stating everything. What I mean is, if you have something to say that will be hurtful to me and not benefit me in any way, just keep it to yourself. (My husband does not hesitate to tell me when my armpits stink!)

So how, after all that, do I "do" Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy? I've often considered not "doing" these things, but when the time comes for each I just can't seem to bare not following through. These are traditions we enjoy. I like to think of them as make believe rather than lies. When my children are old enough to ask me, outright, whether Santa (or another character) is real, I just ask them what they think.

I think there is a big difference between lying and making believe. Sasha is constantly pretending to be a cat, a dog or any of a plethora of characters. I have enjoyed watching her imagination blossom. What better way to show her that she can be anything she wants as an adult than by encouraging her to be anything she wants now?

Complete honesty can be difficult to maintain in a family. Do you think its necessary?


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4 comments:

  1. I was interested about your choosing to "do" Santa Claus and the like because they are traditions you like to do. In México, gifts are brought by the Santos Reyes (3 wise men) and I have been amazed that 5th graders (11 and 12 year olds) still insist that, even though it defies logic, the Santos Reyes bring them their gifts rather than their parents. So when is it time to disillusion them?

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    1. I never disillusion them, I let them come to it on their own. Even once they know, I'm willing to continue pretending with them. My 14yo now loves to talk Santa with me and understands that she, too, has to get to bed before "Santa" comes to fill the stockings.

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  2. Great examples, thanks for sharing your experiences and thoughts. I read from a Facebook friend that her middle child told her that her younger sister broke a Valentine's Day decoration. My friend spanked her youngest, later to find out that the middle child actually broke it. First, I was surprised that my Facebook friend spanked her kids, but besides that, I was a little aghast how she handled the situation. She was asking for advice from her friends because she felt bad about it all. I did suggest something to make the situation better, but I was taken aback, thinking about how I would handle this situation with my children.

    When honesty is valued in your home, I think it would be easier for children to be honest. I also feel that I would go to my youngest and ask (if she's old enough to understand) if she broke it. And I would discuss what happened and how they can respect our decorations and valuables in our home. I hope that I wouldn't spank (as believe that's more damaging than beneficial), but I do know from past experience that I would most likely yell at first... but we're all human. Children are smart and they do figure out how to avoid punishment or disapproval. But hopefully my children won't feel afraid to tell the truth to their parents.

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  3. THe line between make belief and lies... this is one I struggle with in my daughter. She would sometimes state: remember that time I did X with grandparent Y... obviously that never happened, and it angered me at first. Why would she make these things up...
    Now I've realized that she's just training her mind creatively, learning to create a fictional narrative... But it's still hard

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