Contradiction in Terms
You say to-may-toe; I say toh-mah-tah. Deal with it.
Tuesday, April 27, 2004

the policy of honesty
One of my constant frustrations as Sage's mom is the fact that everyone seems to feel perfectly justified about lying to my daughter all the time. You know, the usual lies people tell children, like "It won't hurt," "Eat your food and we'll go to the playroom later," or "Don't go there; there's a monster!" The ironic thing is that Sage is a perfectly reasonable child who will listen and obey if you explain things in a way that she understands, such as "Don't go in there, there are a lot of heavy machines and sharp edges. You might get hurt."

Try as I might, I cannot seem to make her nanny or anyone else understand some of the simple rules Dean and I try to follow in raising Sage:
1. Don't promise anything you don't honestly intend to fulfill.
2. Rather than scaring her so that she'll obey, explain to her so that she'll comprehend.
3. Don't trivialize her fear or pain because things that may seem minor to an adult are monumental to a child.
Which, I guess, all boil down to: treat her with respect and don't lie to her. She's small, not stupid.

On the other hand, in the course of parenting, I've realized that the occasional lie is necessary, like when I have to explain why her friend's daddy is never home. "He must be very busy" seems an infinitely preferable explanation at this point to "Because he has go live with his legal wife." Likewise, I can't tell her we haven't seen Grandpa lately because he and Mommy are mad at each other; I have to tell her he's busy too.

Then there are those charming lies that are part of childhood mythology, like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. And I don't entirely disagree with the idea that a little pointless terror is useful for building an interestingly literary childhood. So the question is, is honesty the best policy? I guess not when it comes at the expense of wonder.

But the next person who says, "Parang kagat ng langgam lang iyan" is still gonna get it.
Nikki bit in at 11:32 PM :: ::
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