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Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Right Amount of Information

I have two little girls, 11 year old step daughter and 4 year old daughter, and the younger one is so full of questions, as all children tend to be when they are discovering the world. She wants to know everything, and she is smart so she really wants to know details and can figure stuff out well, make inferences and connections on her own. A blessing and a curse.

I have always had the opinion that lying to kids is a bad idea. Why tell them some stupid falsity instead of a mostly true statement when they ask about something. That doesn't mean you explain things in detail that they have no business knowing about yet,but I never saw the point in out and out lying when they are just going to be embarrassed someday because of their false notions then think you lied to them. This caused stress for me when she was a baby, I didn't like the idea of making up stupid cutsie names for body parts, but wasn't sure what to call it. In the end I called it what it was, and so does she. That has caused her sister embarrassment, but I like it better than a made up word that shames things.

If possible I will often let her make her own mind, turn it around to "What do you thin?" and let her figure it out on her own. I do this with questions like "Are there really wizards?" or "Are there really trolls?" She has a great imagination and I love to encourage that.

Mostly I have run with my truth theory with both girls. It worked well with the older one, but with my younger one I am starting to wonder if I am doing it OK. She asks questions and I tell the truth. Which has led to her knowing that babies come from eggs that are already present within their bodies, hers included. And her getting a bit obsessed about death at one point, saying she did not want me or her or die. Reassuring her that everyone and everything dies, but we won't be dying anytime soon, this worked to get her mind off of it.

So a recent example of honesty gone awry is here:

Her question: "How do they take chickens and make it so we can eat them?"
My answer: "They usually cut off the head and then pluck the feathers off then take out the insides. We only eat the meat of the chicken."
Her follow up question: "You know what else is meat? People, we are animals and we are meat, do people eat us?"
At this point I am doubting my sanity for answering her but I go forward.
My answer: "That is cannibalism, people eating people and we don't do that anymore because its gross."
Her comment: "I wouldn't want anyone to eat me."

So after that conversation I thought she might turn either vegetarian, or have nightmares about getting eaten. Luckily neither happened. So in the end I was happy I was honest with her. I don't think there was any harm in it and telling her that chickens magically go from being alive to dead and we eat them, that just doesn't make sense to me. If she goes to school and starts talking about cannibalism I fully expect her teacher will call me with concerns but, oh well. I am waiting for that day anyway, my daughter is very opinionated and, as I said, I tell her the truth most of the time where other parents might try and gloss over or make up something silly about it.

It is hard, as a parent, to know when you are doing the right thing. But at least I can say I am screwing up my child with the truth instead of lies. And that I can be OK with.

1 comment:

SarannaDeWylde said...

I completely agree with you. I don't lie to my kids.

I use the correct names for things, when they ask me about sex, I give age-appropriate answers. When they ask me about what I did as a teenager, I answer honestly. I'm not always proud of my answer but I am honest.

When they ask about Santa Clause, I explain it's the spirit of giving that makes him real. They still believe. But they believe in fairies and ghosts and still find wonder in the world. I hope they always do. :)

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