Do you remember any lies your parents told you when you were a kid? I do. Some were downright awful things. Like the boogeyman under the bed. And omg, don’t even get me started on my irrational fear of the tooth-fairy. Some winged creature that steals into my room at night, while I’m sleeping mind you only to take my tooth and replace it with money so I can buy candy? What is up with that?
How about ear wigs will crawl in your ear and lay eggs. Or if you swallow too much gum a gum tree will grow in your tummy. How about nothing bad is ever going to happen to dad or I, and I will always keep you safe.
All parents have told a lie or two or ten to their kids and for good reason. But is lying hurting our children? How honest should a parent be? When is it crossing the line?
For myself I’ve always been a tell-it-like-it-is kinda mom. You ask. I answer kinda deal. Don’t ask me about sex if you don’t want to know. (Just Kidding) I’m only into warping my kids when they become teenagers.
We are quite open in this house though. Not just with sexuality and being comfortable with our bodies, but being able to speak your mind (different from talking back) and having your own opinion. Kids are kids yes, and they need to listen to their parents. I mean it’s our job to protect them. But believe me when they catch you in a lie. It’s horrible to watch their trust evaporate before your eyes.
From the moment my boys were born, I realized they were individuals with their own thoughts and needs. And I’ve tried really hard to keep them safe, protected, loved, cherished and to guide them into making the right choices not just the ones I think are right, but right for them.
When I got diagnosed with cervical cancer, shortly after my sister in law passed away. My youngest son went through a bad transition. He literally called me out on a lie I had told him. That I would always be here. I would always protect him, and I would never leave. Yeah. It wasn’t good.
Of course, what I told him wasn’t meant to be a lie. It was meant to bring him comfort during a time where he watched his cousin lose his mother at such a young age, and he was coming to grips with what death brings. The finality of it. But when he realized, after my diagnosis that his little world of protection just wasn’t so, and that one day he could be faced with not being here. His entire world crumbled.
Our children have dreams. Imaginations. So how do we know as parents when to crumple those into shattering pieces of cold hard truth? Reality Check–we don’t know.
I decided at that moment on that I would never lie to my son. Before my cancer surgery, I asked him to write me a letter telling me everything he wanted to know about life or what he wanted to say. He didn’t want to at first. He said he was afraid I was going to die.
This time I didn’t tell him I wasn’t. I told him to have faith. To believe. To hold in his heart good things not bad, and to push the bad thoughts aside. I told him people come into our lives for a reason. Some stay a long time. Some leave us unexpectedly. But while they are here, we cherish and love them with all our hearts.
My son cried very hard that day. And there is a part of me that feels at 10 years old, I somehow shattered his childhood, bringing him into the harsh reality of life, death and the world we live in. But there is freedom in telling the truth. Freedom that allows us to begin to heal, accept and deal with everything life throws at us.
I hope one day my son will realize just how much I love him and that although lying is never the right way to build any relationship, let alone one with your children. Sometimes. It’s a parent love that keeps us from sharing the bad so their life stays pure and good, until we feel they are ready to accept what’s before them.