An author's note: This post was syndicated nationally
November 18, 2008
Honesty May Not Always Be The Best Policy
It has officially happened. I've started lying to my son, and to boot, manipulating him as well. In the past, I have sat on my moral mountain judging others for telling little white lies to their children. But that was before I became a Mom, and now, well now it is different, I have joined the ranks and become a teller of lies.
My husband Wally first noticed it and pointed it out to me the other night. Benjamin hurt his tooth and we were instructed by the dentist to feed him soft foods. Tired of pasta and soup, Ben wanted something else. I tried to give him some cod but when I asked him to try some "fish" I got a lot of head nodding, and not in the vertical direction but in the horizontal. Desperate for Ben to eat something, I told my innocent, unsuspecting child that the fish was something that he actually enjoyed. I told him the fish was a french fry. Next thing I knew, Ben was enjoying fish and even asking for more. Wally then commented, "are we now lying to our son?" Was I? Were we?
As I contemplated the question, I saw out of the corner of my eye Ben smiling after each bite of his fish -- a 20 month old was actually LOVING fish (or fries as Ben liked to think of them as). I didn't feel like getting into a moral match with my husband so I kept the answer simple and I said yes.
In addition to the french fry lie, I have also appealed to my son's sensitive side. Lately, if he sees that someone is upset or afraid. He will go right up to the person and rub their arm or leg or back (whatever body part is close at the time) and tell them it is "okay" in a soft gentle voice as he puts his head close to you. It is perhaps the sweetest thing I have ever seen and I will admit I have used this beautiful side of my son to get something I wanted done without a lot of the headache. Some may call this manipulation - I call it resourcefulness. As I tried to change his poopy filled diaper, he started yelling "no" and running around the coffee table. This has become a normal occurrence as of late and I am just tired of it. On occasion, I've tried to reason with him, "Mommy doesn't like to change smelly diapers either but who wants to sit in poop - I know I wouldn't." Usually, that approach gets a blank stare or more screams. Other times, I have grabbed him kicking and screaming and this just adds to everyone's frustration. This time around, I covered my face with my hands and started pretend crying. The next thing I knew I heard the pitter patter of little feet and pat on the back and "OK, OK" in the sweet innocent little voice. Yes, I am horrible but he sat very still while I changed his pants with no problem.
So if calling fish fries got him to eat the cod and pretend crying got his diaper changed without the drama, then how wrong could that be? I now believe one little white lie is canceled out by the good it can do for my son and others. I'm sure some parenting expert would tell me how wrong it is but for now I will tell my lies (within reason). I'm sure this will come to bite me in the butt but I'll wait until that happens.
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