Parents and Lying

When it comes to kids and lying, nothing tells the story better than the latest news phenomenon that wraps around the family and the runaway weather balloon. I remember watching the news story unfold, my hand curled up in a fist at my heart at the news flash that a weather balloon had escaped with a little 6 year old child trapped inside. I couldn’t help but think of my own children at the age of 6, how small and innocent they were. And my heart hurt as I thought of this small, innocent child being flown over three counties without any way of getting down.

And then they found the balloon. It was strewn haphazardly across the ground. And no boy was in sight. Like the rest of America that was following this story closely, I felt the fear and turmoil deep inside. I wanted to cry for this child that was most likely thrown from the balloon. I couldn’t stop thinking of what his last minutes would have been like. I imagined the fear that he went through, and I empathized the anguish his family, his mother, must have been feeling.

And then they found him.

It appeared to be a childish prank gone awry. We all had been snookered. And I had to laugh at the way I had been so involved in a story that turned out to be nothing but a misunderstanding, as well as feeling relief that all had turned out ok.

We all know the rest of the story. For a moment, the family was America’s baby. Their story was more intriguing than the Jon and Kate fiasco. Reporter after reporter interviewed them about the incident. The child, Falcon, admitted to a CNN reporter that he could hear his family calling him, yet remained hidden in a box in the attic.

“You did?” his mother asked.
“Why didn’t you come out?” asked his father.
Falcon answered, “You had said that we did this for a show.”

Suddenly this was much more than a childish prank. We were set up. And this young boy who had supposedly been victim of a horrific ordeal was now the victim of another kind. He had been used as his father’s pawn in a web of lies for his family’s gain.

The reason this story is still in the headlines is simply because this was a case of a father using his child in a negative manner rather than raising him with moral guidelines. And while there is no love lost in me for this sorry excuse of a parent, it has me thinking – are we guilty of the same thing?

“Make sure you tell Aunt Betty that you love the sweater that she knitted for you,” when your 8 year old has matured beyond the ducks and bears that adorn a sweater he’ll never wear in public.

“Even if you don’t like the dinner at Grandma’s house, tell her you love it anyway,” when Grandma made his least favorite meal for dinner.

“Thank Billy for the wonderful time you had at his birthday party,” when your child was made to be the outsider and ignored for the whole party.

And there are the lies kids hear us tell.

“Two adults, and two kids under the age of 6,” to the girl at the movie counter when your older son is clearly 7 ½.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t make it the other night, I was in bed with a cold,” when you were perfectly healthy but just wanted a night in.

How about lies we tell our kids?

“If you keep making that face, it might freeze and stay that way forever!” when your son sticks his tongue out at his sister for the umpteenth time.

“Fido ran away,” when he was hit by a car that morning.

Around Christmas time when I was a child, my sister and I were guilty of fighting with each other and being rotten to our mother. At her wit’s end, the only option my mother had was to call Santa Claus and let him know how awful we were being, and that it would be best if he just passed by our house that year. We cried and cried, promising to change. Thankfully, my mom was able to call Santa back and let him know that we decided to behave ourselves.

When my own daughter was 3, she had a habit of telling lies about who was at fault when the walls were colored on, or her room was trashed, or who threw all the folded laundry on the floor. I told her that I could tell she was fibbing because her eyes turned purple when she lied.

A friend of mine got pregnant accidentally by a man who disappeared and decided to have nothing to do with the baby. When her daughter was still young, she fell in love with someone wonderful who treats her well and cares for her daughter as if she were his own. This little girl knows nothing about her real father. And while my friend will tell her one day, at 4 years old she is safe and secure in a traditional family with a mommy and daddy.

There is no question that what Falcon’s dad did was inexcusable. But what about the everyday occurrence of lying that happens in most homes across the world? Are our white lies and blatant fibs to blame for teaching our kids how to fabricate stories without remorse? Or are the stories we tell our kids necessary for a mind that is too young to handle the truth?  Join the discussion already in place at SantaRosaMom.com, or leave a comment here.

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