Raising the truth

I continue to have conversations with individuals who ask me questions about how I might want to raise my son. I always have lots of ideas to share with them, but one in particular comes so strongly to me that I wanted to share with you. Honesty and trust.

You might find me out in left field, or strange, or just not at all mainstream, but I am not sure I want to raise my son by telling him lies. I wrote a blog about it last May — the idea that we basically lie to our kids about Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny (and I am sure a lot more). Yet, I continue to be baffled that we want to teach our kids to tell the truth and have honesty and integrity, yet we somehow are horrible examples of that. Of course we want our kids to have mystery and adventure in their lives, but there has to be a better way.

Yes, I will try to find a way to be graceful about it all so that he does not ruin it for other kids, but I want to be honest with him and not create this world where he later finds out that the stories we tell about these holidays are all made up. How then have I truly taught him about trust, honesty, and integrity? We can still celebrate the real meaning of these holidays (which I wonder how much of that is really lost on so many kids because they learn this fairy tale rather than the essence and significance of these holidays).

This conversation keeps coming up, and it has brought about some interesting dialogue. Maybe I am rogue or on the fringe, or maybe we are not asking the right questions. As parents we should be the examples. My dad’s answer was often: “Because I said so.” Which I hated because it meant he either did not have a better answer, he was too lazy to explain it, or he just wanted to have control over what I thought. As exhausting as it might be I want to be transparent with this little boy entering the world and give him honest answers that help him weave together and make sense of an already complex world.

What do you think?

One thought on “Raising the truth

  1. you will then need to balance society vs individual. piss and vinegar vs cotton candy. blind comfort vs fear. I am completely with you on being honest and always answering the question with an honest answer but you will need to assess the maturity of your child and their ability to understand the answer. talking about procreation with a child that has yet to go through puberty will not be understood. talking about war or politics with a 7 year old will not be understood. and as we always know, information is a weapon and children WILL wield it as a weapon because it will at times give them attention.

    Scenario 1 – religion:
    early on, my oldest grappled with the concept of death and during one evening, i was sitting with him and answering questions.
    “You have a father and a step-father?”
    “Your step-dad is dead?”
    “Yes – but he was old”
    “Will you get old?”
    “We all get old.”
    and he started to cry bit alligator tears – “What’s wrong buddy? Why are you crying?”
    “I don’t want you to die – I’ll miss you so much – I never want to leave you…”
    oh boy. this precipitated us getting back into church as to provide him a spiritual education. do i believe 100% in the stories of the bible? yes and no. so by me putting him into sunday school, am i lying to him as i am totally allowing him to learn stories i may not believe in.

    Scenario 2 – santa is dead:
    your son goes to school with the knowledge that Santa is not real. in Kindergarten, he will tell his friends that Santa does not exist because Mom told me so. Kids will cry and this will be the reason the teacher calls you along with a handful of angry parents. This can have an isolating impact to your child.

    Scenario 3 – political banter:
    your son overhears your commentary to the TV which causes questions. And realistically, the answers will not be understood due to the maturity of your son’s brain. They will reiterate your position should the topic come up at school. If his teacher completely disagrees (which is possible), this could cause the detention or suspension pending the topic such as terrorism because the principal will not get the whole story.

    i promise you this – this black and white topic WILL become the full spectrum of gray once you hold that child and they look back at you with complete trust.


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