My little one is old enough for little white lies. She's a person who can understand others, have conversations and express her needs, which means I have begun to lie to her. It certainly wasn't part of my plan. My lying seems to have developed out of expediency…
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When she wants to visit the neighbor's daughter and I don't feel like it, "Jane's at school right now" (on a weekend). When she wants to watch Elmo on my smartphone for the thousandth time, "The phone's not working" (someday, it's going to ring at the same time I'm expressing this falsehood). When she asks for a cookie, "they're all gone" (not really, just not interested in a sugar high right now and/or more for me later). When she wants to go to the indoor pool at my gym, "The pool is closed" (way too much hassle to take her to the pool every time she asks).
I could go on. There are more. And I have an overarching rationalization for them all. It's just that I reprimand her and say "no" so much during the day…."stay out of the garbage", "the markers aren't for furniture", " "you can't come up on me while I'm cooking"…on and on. Why not make a few of the "no's" not about her or me? Why not blame some of the "no's" on an external source? She seems to like these other reasons better too, which means fewer power struggles and tantrums. That's better for both of us.
But I know there are insidious downsides to this philosophy too. When she's a bit older, she's going to catch on and I'm gonna get busted in a lie. Talk about undermining my own authority. I don't think I'm ready for that interaction. Eventually, I'm going to have to really tell her the truth, which is that "mama sometimes says no, and you have to listen whether you like it or not". I'm merely delaying the inevitability of this stoic life lesson.
And, ethically, can you ever really get away with a lie? I'm not sure.
I don't know if I'm strong enough to be take a more ethically pure stance on this issue right now, though. It seems so much easier to tell her what we both want to hear.