Liar. Liar.

Why Telling the Truth is Hard

We are hosting Dr. D.’s three nieces  (two aged 11 and a 7 year old) for the summer and it’s certainly been an adventure to go from one toddler to four kids in the house. One of the things I’ve  observed in the time the girls have been with us is how much elementary school aged children lie. Over the past several days I’ve caught the girls in any number of lies ranging from big (“We don’t know HOW that magic marker ended up on the blanket, Auntie Portia.”) to small (“Yes, we washed our hands.” *said while nails are caked with dirt*). Now  most kids are lousy liars and these three are no exception. Sunday morning I went into their room to find chocolate (food is forbidden upstairs) on the carpet and mattress of the youngest child. I asked who brought the candy upstairs. They each gave each other the “Don’t-You-Dare-Tell-Her-Or-I’ll-Kick-Your-Butt” look before looking away, shifty-eyed. “We don’t know,” they said in unison. I tell them I know the candy didn’t make it upstairs on its own and that someone wasn’t telling the truth. We’ll all just sit here until someone comes clean. I’ve got all day. That’s when they all began throwing each other under the bus. “N. told me to do it!” “No I didn’t. It was your idea!” “Shut up! You are such a liar!” And so it went.

I sat the three of them down to talk about lying and its consequences. I tried to put it into a context that an elementary school aged child could understand. We talked about the meaning of being honest and trustworthy. We also talked about being your own person and not following the crowd just because someone else is doing something wrong. Now, only time will tell if this if little speech made an impact (I’m sure I’ll have to give it 50,000 more times), but it did get me thinking about how often we adults lie every day – big and small.

There is the white lie. We feign illness when we want to get out of attending a social event; or  a friend gets a new hair cut and we tell her it looks super even if we think it’s a disaster. And there are bigger lies. We don’t come clean with an employee about why she is not getting promoted and instead continue to tell her she is doing a great job.

There are the lies we tell ourselves, ” I’ll start my diet on Monday. I deserve this molten chocolate cake.” Sometimes we lie to keep from hurting another’s feelings or because we don’t want to take responsibility for our actions.

I am certainly guilty of telling white lies every now and then. For instance, I bailed on an early morning appointment last week (and no, I won’t tell you which one just in case the person is reading this post!) because I was exhausted and wanted to sleep in. I said I had a sudden conflict at work. Now why didn’t I just tell truth and simply say,” You know, S. it’s been a long week and I really need to reschedule and get some rest.” What’s wrong with the truth? My mother-in-law used to say, “A lie doesn’t care who tells it.” A lie is a lie.

Be honest. How often do you find yourself lying- even telling little lies? Do you think lying ever justified?

Showing 4 comments
  • Blessing

    I do tell some white lies to get out of situations….its just the rule of the game in Corporate America. People don’t want the truth….they want a lie that justifies their own set of rules. Like yesterday I went in to sign off documents for my daughter’s preschool. I was asked to fill in my income and the lady clearly told me not to fill that section because my income was way higher than they wouldn’t be reimbursed for my daughter’s meals. I was going to bring her meals anyways, but that shows you how much our society is suffering when people lie to get healthcare, money and foodstamps that they don’t deserve.

    • bossmomonline

      Blessing, you bring up an interesting issue about the social acceptability of lying these days. It’s no wonder then it’s so hard to teach our kids about right and wrong. I guess it starts with us at home, right?

  • Kajsa

    The topic of honesty just came up a couple of days ago amongst a group of my friends and a lot of good points were made. One being a familiar saying (to me anyway) which is that lies exist for 2 reasons only, fear of loss or hope for gain. Simplistic maybe, but oh so true. I remind myself of this when I find myself thinking of what I will say to the person who’s call I didn’t return promptly, or some such trivial thing. Why not just tell the truth or say nothing at all? It is nice to go to bed at night and review my day and think, I was honest today. It feels good, and like going to the gym and eating right to keep physically fit, being spiritually fit takes effort too. I wonder at what age the lying starts. My daughter will be 6 at the end of October, and she does not lie. She might try hiding physical things every once in awhile, but she will not lie about it. If something comes up that she is embarrassed about or feels was wrong, she can sometimes be evasive and not want to talk about it, but a lie to my knowledge has never crossed her lips. I encourage this of course, and we have long talks about listening to your body, how it can tell you what is right and wrong just like when it is full or tired. I don’t want to see the lies start, it too treacherous a road to start down.

    • bossmomonline

      Kajsa, I think you have the right approach. I think if we teach our kids early that lying is wrong and then MODEL it for them, it will make all the difference. I’m trying to remember this as D2 grows up. Thanks for stopping by!

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