It comes as no surprise that parenting means, from time to time, that you'll tell a few white lies to your children. Whether it's passionately lobbying for the existence of Santa Clause to hiding peas and carrots in your kid's meal so they get their daily dose of vegetables, we parents (every once in a while) tend to bend the truth for the benefit of our children. However, there are plenty of things you should never lie to your child about, too.
Life is complicated and, as a parent, there are going to be plenty of tough conversations you'll have to share with your kid. While it might make you feel somewhat uncomfortable or even confused and lost, there is absolutely no reason to lie to your kid in those key, important moments when they're looking for honest, informative answers. Even if you have the best of intentions (and, of course, I'm assuming you do) there are some lies that won't benefit our children the way we'd hope. Whether it's lying about sex or lying about a broken relationship or anything in between, it is truth, not deception, that will give our children the tools they need to make it through life in a healthy, happy and self-loving way.
The truth can be a difficult pill to swallow, and can put us, as parents, in tough situations where the necessary words allude us. But it is in those moments that our honest candor is so important. If we want to have healthy relationships with our children — and if we want them to come to us with the tough questions and the scary situations and the healthy curiosities — then we have to be honest with our children about these eight things, because sometimes, even a little white lie can hurt.
Whether you like to admit it and/or even think about it, your kid will (one day, probably) have sex. If you want to make sure that day is safe, healthy and consensual, it is important that you be open and honest about sex: having safe sex, what safe sex looks like, and what consensual sex (the only type of sex, mind you) is. Arming our children with factual information — instead of lies that are meant to deter sexual activity but really do nothing but misinform — will ensure that their sexual experiences are safe and enjoyable, instead of dangerous and regrettable.
It will be difficult to completely describe or comprehend, but nothing good comes from lying about death. Whether it's their pet goldfish or a grandparent or a close friend or a parent or a sibling, death is something every human will eventually be faced with, and it always feels too soon to try and wrap someone's head around the concept for the first time, or to navigate the sometimes painful feelings associated with it. If we want to help our children get through the pain of losing someone, we have to be honest about death. We can't sugar coat a crappy situation; we can't pretend that death doesn't happen; we can't scare our children because they lack quality information.
Where Babies Come From
If you lie about pregnancy and birth, you're basically telling your child that pregnancy and birth is "bad" or "gross" or something worth hiding and, well, it isn't. Pregnancy and childbirth are awesome things, and so is procreation. There's no reason to lie to children about where they came from or how they were made, because who wants to come from a stork? That's right, no one.
Also this is a great opportunity to tell your kids that not all babies "come from" the same place, and that not all families are put together the same way. The truth, as it usually is, is so much more interesting than any lies we've come up with to cover over it.
Of course, there is a time and a place and a specific age when it becomes appropriate to let your kid know more and more about you. But when you reach those moments, why would you lie. There's no reason to put on a facade and pretend that you're above the mistakes you made or the past that helped shaped you into the person and parent you are today. Your kid will trust you, understand you, and actually respect you more if they see you as a human being who messes us, instead of a "perfect" parent who wouldn't understand what it means to make a mistake.
Drugs And/Or Alcohol
One of the (many) reasons why kids end up experimenting with drugs and alcohol is because they're constantly being lied to about them. Society has created an enticing taboo that kids are curious to explore. There's no reason to tell kids and/or young adults anything but the truth: drugs can make you feel absolutely amazing, but only for a moment. Be honest about the consequences and the side effects and everything in between. Misinformation doesn't deter children so much as it blinds them.
If you're upset or you're scared or you're anything in between, let your kid know. You don't have to be a robot, devoid of human emotion, in order to be someone your kid admires or looks up to or trusts. Do you want to start a panic? No. And, of course, there are times when you need to be "strong" for your kid, but sometimes "being strong" means showing your emotions and explaining to your children why it's OK to cry and be upset and feel whatever it is that you're feeling.
Racism, Bigotry, Hatred (And All That Other Sh*t They're Going To Encounter In The Real World)
For many parents, they don't even have the option of lying about racism, bigotry, or hatred; they face it every day and it is as real as the air they breathe. But if you aren't one of those people, don't lie to your children and pretend like these difficult and upsetting realities aren't part of every day life. Hopefully your child never has to face them, but I'd venture to guess they will; either as a victim or a spectator. If we're going to end these things, we need to be honest about their existences and have tough conversations, so that our children demand better for themselves and from themselves.
If you and your partner has split or divorced or are no longer together, how you help your kid navigate that (and really, any of these things) is completely up to you. But barring any details that are clearly not age-appropriate (or really just any of their business), I feel like just giving kids the truth about what's going on is the best, easier path to getting through it in one piece.
Obviously, you don't want to talk sh*t about your co-parent to your child, because a part of your kid is your ex-partner and when you talk badly about your ex, you're telling your kid that there's a part of them that's bad too. And also it's just lame to use your kid as an instrument of revenge against your ex, or try to get them to pick sides, no matter what. But, at the same time, there's nothing wrong with letting your child know that some relationships just don't work out, and that's OK. They'll thank you for your honesty one day. (No, seriously, that's not just something people say.)