I grew up in a family full of secrets and lies. I didn't realize how much this affected me until I was an adult with some pretty heavy duty trust issues. I promised myself I would always be honest with my children, even when it’s hard. So far, I have kept that promise. It's not always easy, and my secret-prone family doesn't understand it, but I know in my heart it's the right thing to do. Here's how we're approaching the “nothing but the truth” way of life.
True, but age appropriate. When my husband's grandmother passed away, we entered the unknown territory of death and a funeral with a two year old. That was six months ago, and she still asks about Nonna. We remind her, gently, that Nonna died and that when somebody dies, it means you can't talk to them anymore. This satisfies her curiosity now, and when it doesn’t, I’ll go into more detail. The same goes for questions about her body, sex and sexuality.
Check your lies at the door! We make sure everyone, and especially members of my family, understand that we say what we mean in our house, even to the very small. This has caused some bristling because people tend to view their relatives choosing a different approach to parenting as a critique of their own. Sometimes there are hurt feelings on this one, but I hold firm and try to be sensitive. It's the best I can do.
Little rabbits have big ears. When choosing to live an honest life with our child, my husband and I make sure we're consistent. When someone calls and we don't want to talk to them, there is no saying "Tell them I'm in the shower!" when we’re not. This proved a little embarrassing when my husband told a caller I couldn’t come to the phone and my daughter yelled “She’s going pee-pee” over his shoulder. You’ll be pleased to know I have recovered from the trauma. I’ll work on teaching her appropriate topics of conversation!
Like I said, it's not always easy to avoid sneaking in little white lies. But years from now, when my daughter is older and she's wondering which path to follow, she will remember that Mom and Dad do not tell lies. Will this make for smooth sailing all the way to adulthood? Of course not! But when she reaches deep down to her gut, the hope is she will always know she can trust her parents.
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