Should you lie to your children?

June 4, 2012


Childhood is a magical time. I’ve always thought a belief in magic is something we should encourage in young children. Fairies, Father Christmas and all of the other childhood myths are important. Children live in a different, more magical world than us anyway. In their world a favourite toy will talk to them and all kinds of inanimate objects – from plastic dolls to favourite comfort blankets – enjoy a tea party. For small children there is no reason why fairies should not live at the bottom of the garden and Father Christmas doesn’t deliver presents to every children around, in one evening. Everything is possible for children.

So can encouraging children to believe in these things be a good thing? I think it stimulates a child’s imagination and creativity, but more importantly gives them comfort and hope. Tinkerbell is very helpful in our family, if something is lost then she will find it and look after it, if someone is poorly she may come in the night and look aster them and even leave a special gift. I did a post last week which had proof that fairies exist and M will often talk about the time the fairies played in the house when she was gone or when she held Tinkerbell on her hand in the woods.


There are people who oppose this. Germaine Greer is adamant you should never lie to children. I don’t agree. Young children can’t always handle the truth. Any fact you tell them from the birds and the bees to the history of England needs to be adapted to suit their age and sensitivity. M asked recently if there are any baddies near us. Of course I could go into detail about how there are bad people everywhere and we can never be too careful. She’s not even five, her understanding of baddies is from cartoons – which is as it should be.

Lying to children is also useful for us. This week was Sports Day. I had planned to join in the mummies race but when everyone lined up I bottled it. This was partly because I had just been told a mother had fallen flat on her face last year and exposed herself, er….no thanks! M was in a really silly mood and was messing around during the whole race. It didn’t take much to convince her that I had in fact joined in. I told her I came 6th but tried my best and didn’t give up – so it was a good lie really (by the way if you’re reading this from the future M – then sorry – but really you should have been paying attention) Perhaps in this case it was wrong to lie but in some ways it’s the same thing – a comforting version of events which makes everyone feel happier.

For me, the adult world is a cold hard place. There are no fairies to do the washing up for you, you get a pair of socks for Christmas, people lie to you and let you down and if your tooth falls out then rather than a gold coin under your pillow you will need to spend a fortune at the dentists. It’s not a world I’m ready for the girls to join me in just yet.


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