The Unintentional Mishaps of Moms and Dads. We lie to avoid punishment or embarrassment, to increase or preserve our status, to maintain privacy and to protect ourselves or someone else from harm. Just be careful what you’re modeling for your kids.
As parents, it’s a given that we want our children to be honest. But sometimes this requires serious soul searching about honesty, says Maurice J. Elias, Ph.D., Steven E. Tobias and Brian S. Friedlander in their book, Emotionally Intelligent Parenting (Three Rivers Press). “Kids pick up on things – business relationships, tax stuff, phone conversations in which your words and facial expressions are at variance with each other and how parents treat family, friends, employers and neighbors.” Kids pick up on stuff. Taking that seriously, I decided to take a look at what I’m really teaching my children.
I understand kids hear things when I think they aren’t listening, and they see things when I think they aren’t quite old enough to understand. I clearly see this in my own kids. I was cruising down the highway at top speed but not over the speed limit. I came to a traffic light, and as I approached it was yellow. I hit the gas and flew through the almost red light. My child, safely buckled in his car seat innocently asked, “Mommy, wasn’t that a red light?”
My first response to him was, “No, no honey, it was yellow.” Yep, yellow means proceed with caution. I avoided his questionable glances in the rear view mirror. In my mind, I could hear him saying, “Liar, liar, pants on fire!” The light was yellow when I got to it, but it changed, and I went through anyway. I should have stopped, and I shouldn’t have covered it up to my child. I lied to him! (It’s no wonder when I ask him if he ate a forbidden cookie before dinner that he says, “No!”) And, this isn’t the first time either.
Another incident took place on the highway; and this time I had my older son in the front seat with me. “Mom?” he thoughtfully chose his words. “Why did that car flash his bright lights at you?” Ahem. “And why did you slow down?” Real answer: To avoid getting a speeding ticket from the police officer hiding his car in a bush. But I replied, “I don’t know.” There, I did it again! The unfortunate part? This son already has a driving permit and knows the ways of the road. He caught me in a lie!