Would you lie for your kids? This is the sort of question, posed by Circle of Moms member Tania S. in the Debating Moms community, that most of us don't consider until we're forced to. We go through our lives thinking we're basically honest people, and we do our best to teach our kids good values, such as telling the truth. But are there situations that might cause us to choose to lie on behalf of our kids?
As the response to Tania's question shows, many moms first face this question when their kids are late with their homework, and most of them refuse to lie or make excuses for their kids to win school work-related extensions. But I myself would never say never! And I reserve the right to make these decisions on a snap basis. I'm realistic enough to know that I might lie for my kid, even if I didn't think it was the right thing to do. But I think the more important question is, How will I prepare my child to make his own decisions about lying versus truth-telling?
We have an instinctive desire to protect our children, and this instinct doesn't distinguish between protecting them from harm and protecting them from punishment. We can still sometimes make rational decisions about these matters, but not always. I would also add that there is often a gap between the selves we'd like to be and the selves we actually are; and I think there's something useful in that observation as we analyze our own behavior. For example, in an ideal world, truth-telling is a virtue, and we learn a lot from the natural consequences we face when we, say, break someone's toy by accident, and confess.
But there's also a gap between refusing to lie for your child and encouraging him or her to tell the truth. At a certain age, isn't it a child's responsibility to decide what to do? If your child wants to be shielded from punishment for wrongdoing, shouldn't your child be the one to tell the lie rather than you, and to accept responsibility for that lie?
Let's take this hypothetical: Your 10-year-old son didn't do his homework on time because he was playing video games. He wants you to tell his teacher he was sick, that he needs an extension. Instead of simply saying yes or no, why not take the opportunity to walk him through this conversation and then let him decide if it's worth it? This way, you're honoring your own advice, and you're letting him creatively problem-solve. Let's say he decides to lie, and let's say it works, as it often does! One of two things will happen next. He'll understand that he got a free pass and won't let it happen again, i.e., he'll consider himself lucky. Or he'll try it again. What's the likelihood he'll be believed the next time? The "natural consequences" model is at play here, without your having to decide whether or not lie.
But what happens when the stakes are higher? I figure that when my son hits his teens, he'll make some mistakes, as we all do. My goal is to have prepared him as well as I can to make decisions along the way that minimize the consequences of those mistakes. What if he gets caught drinking under-age or speeding in his car? To me, my conversation with him about the natural consequences of those decisions is much more important than what I might or might not tell an authority. I honestly can't say whether or not I'd lie to a third party — this would be a completely circumstantial decision for me. But I would have a serious sit-down with my kid.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.