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Mom's Talk: Is it Ever OK to Lie to your Child?

What's your opinion about lying to children.

Moms Talk is a weekly feature on Sherman Oaks Patch, in which local parents are invited to share opinions and advice on parenting issues.

Today's Question: Is it ever OK to lie to your child? 

Tell us what you think.

 Our Moms Council members include:

Linda Arbiter:  A licensed family therapist in Sherman Oaks, Linda is also the mother of three children. Linda's specialities include parenting issues, adolescent development and anxiety issues involving children.

Michele Dahl: Michele is a freelance writer and mother to 3-year-old firecracker Shelby and 1-year-old sweetheart Cash. In between working three jobs—not including her unpaid gig as a mommy—she is a contributing writer and product reviewer for hollywoodmomblog.com.  

Randi Green: Randi is raising three children, ages 18, 15 and 10. She is a personal trainer, working with children as well as adults. Randi says: "I’ve dealt with the terrible twos, the trying tweens and the terrific/horrific teen years, and have firm opinions on it all!"

Rose Sevilla: Rose is a full-time personal assistant to her toddler, Alastair, and is pregnant with twin boys. She holds a master's degree in linguistics and consults as a language/learning specialist. Prior to entering motherhood, Rose was a classroom teacher for nearly a decade.

This week's question is posed by Randi Green:

When if ever, is it OK to lie to a child?

Tell us what you think in the comments section of our site.

Rose Sevilla May 04, 2011 at 04:59 PM
Kids have a keen way of knowing more than we give them credit for. While I don't think that they need to be briefed on specifics (i.e., so-and-so's parent had an affair with another parent on the school board---and it's not the first time---and so they're getting a nasty divorce), they can be made aware of certain situations in a manner that is discreet and age-appropriate. Chances are that they'll find out information from a source other than their parent, and I know that I'd rather be the one to deliver pertinent information (without gossiping), especially when asked directly by my child. That being said, there are times when facts can easily (and conveniently) be withheld from a child, which could be considered by some as a lie of omission. As parents, we evolve in our abilities to modify answers in a way that satiates their curiosity, while providing a balance between reality and the protective bubble surrounding them. Speaking from my own childhood experiences, I do not think it is appropriate to be completely dishonest with a child, as often when the child learns that their parent has lied to them, they lose some sense of trust in that parent. Even when that parent was merely trying to shield you from something very hurtful.
Michele Dahl May 06, 2011 at 03:57 AM
Well put, Rose! Although, if I have a 3 year old and a 1 year old both screaming at me for lollipops at 7 am, I will look them in the eye and say, "Sorry, I don't have any," when I know perfectly well that there is a jumbo-sized bag stashed in the closet. It is all about judgement, common sense, and age-appropriate answers. Difficult topics are hard to explain to little ones, though. It has taken me 10 months and I still don't have the heart to tell my 3 year old that she will not see her Grandma again when she asks about her.. I've told her that she lives in Heaven now but to her, Heaven might as well be New Jersey (where Grandmas used to live).

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