The Politics of Parenting: Don’t Lie to Your Kids

In life, we can’t insure that the Presidential Candidate of our choice will win. We also can’t control what the President, or any political figure, will say or do once elected.

But if we look at some of the ethics we’d like to see in our politicians, we CAN make sure we’re applying them in our own little country we call home.

Welcome to the first installment of The Politics of Parenting: Don’t Lie to Your Children.

Let’s take the recent John McCain incident as an example. He was supposed to appear on The David Letterman Show for an interview. If you haven’t heard the story, Senator McCain backed out of the appearance, saying that he had to get back to Washington immediately to help with the economic crisis.

McCain then proceeded to tape an interview with Katie Couric BEFORE he made his way back to Washington. Obviously this interview was more important to the Senator than the Dave Letterman appearance.

But the point is McCain flat out lied. And with that lie comes loss of trust & loss of credibility. The same is true of parents that lie to their kids.

Kids are not stupid. They know when we’re lying. More importantly, they deserve the truth.

If we’re going to lie about something, big or small, how can our kids ever be sure we’re telling the truth? I’m not saying you have to be brutal in how you share the truth, it can be offered in an age-appropriate way.

Even if we have good intentions, trying to protect our children with a lie is not the best choice. When we hide the truth from them, we rob them of the opportunity to learn a valuable life lesson. This shelters them from a reality that might one day be present in their lives as adults (like money issues, death, or relationship problems). I think our kids will fare better if we’ve given them a foundation of what to expect from life and how to deal with it.

Protecting the integrity of our relationships with out kids has far better long-term results. It gives them a sense of security & safeness. It helps them feel like “real people,” because they’re included (again in an age appropriate way) in what’s going on with the family. This helps them grow into healthy, high-functioning adults.

If our kids have lost faith in our word, how can we expect to be trusted  — especially during stressful or major life changing situations? Even if it’s a “small lie,” you can not realistically expect your kids to listen to your advice or suggestions after you’ve undermined the relationship with a lack of trust.

McCain could have said: “Sorry Dave, I can’t make the show tonight. As you know, there’s an economic crisis I have to attend to. I also have a news interview scheduled with Katie Couric, and I simply can not break that interview. Plus, I’m really old and I need a nap. Is there any chance we can resehceule when things calm down?”

Sure, Dave may have still been pissed, but at least he’d have the satisfaction of knowing the possible future President told the truth. If he’s lying about trivial things like this, can we trust anything he says?

If your kids can’t trust you to tell the truth, who can they trust? Certainly not John McCain.

Here’s what Letterman had to say about what happened thing…

And remember, you are not alone…