Pinocchio Parenting: The Lies We Tell Our Kids

I’m a good parent and I lie to my kids. Lying isn’t what makes me a good parent, but it doesn’t mean that I’m a bad one either.

The truth is, everybody lies. Toddlers, teenagers and adults – we all lie. Think about it, you even lie to your own kids you know you do. If you say you don’t, you’re lying!

We lie to our children for a multitude of reasons; we want to protect them, or we don’t always know the right answer, or we’re just lazy or we’re just having some fun. The latter backfired on me recently.

Obviously, there’s a difference between little white lies and lying to kids specifically to hurt them. The former is the result of taking care of the small people we love but who inevitably drive you to your breaking point and threaten to send you over the edge. [The latter, we don’t even go there.]

So, with that mind, here are some common lies Reddit and Pinterest users have heard parents tell their kids. Feel free to add your own in the comments section.

1.“The ice cream van only plays music when he runs out of ice cream.”

2. “My dad told me the rumble strips on the highway were for blind drivers.”

3. “Your mom and I were just…em, wrestling.”

4. “If you don’t behave in the drive-thru you’ll get a Sad Meal.”

5. “Smoke detectors are actually Santa-cams.”

6. “My dad told me people only get 10,000 words per month. If you reach the limit, you can’t physically speak until the new month begins. Anytime I was especially talkative, dad would say, ‘Careful, you’re over 9,000 by now.'”

Little white lies...
Little white lies…

7. “If you pee in a pool, there’s a special dye that will turn it red so that everybody knows.”

8. “If you lie a red dot appears on your forehead that only parents can see. It only goes away when you tell the truth.”

 9. “They don’t sell replacement batteries for that toy.”

10. “When I was a kid my parents warned me that if I pressed the ‘reset’ button on the power outlet the house would explode.”

11. “You’ll have to drive a little Smart car if you don’t eat your vegetables because you’ll be too little for a big car.”

12. “We’re not French so we can’t eat the French Fries in McDonalds.”

13. “The tooth fairy won’t come if your room is messy.”

14.  “If I didn’t sit still during a haircut, the barber would cut my ear off. The worst part was that the barber would play along.”

15.  “We have to leave the zoo now. The zookeeper called my cellphone and your crying is upsetting the animals.”

16. “We’re going to bed now, too.”

17. “I’m leaving without you.”

18. “When I was little my Dad told me that toys grew under the weeds in the yard and if I pulled them, eventually a toy would pop out. And I believed it for a long time…”

19. “The car won’t start unless everyone is buckled in.”

20. “We’re almost there.”

21. “I want to carry you but the doctor said your legs would stop growing if you didn’t walk.”

22. “Our fish went to live with their friends in the ocean.”

23. “My father always said the animals on the side of the road were just taking a nap because the road was warm.”

24. “My son was 8 before he knew that football games on school nights had a second half. I always sent him to bed at halftime.”

25. “When we go on a road trip I’m going to tell my kids, ‘If you go to sleep, we’ll take the shortcut.'”

26. “We got our daughter to eat fish by calling it ‘Argentinian Chicken’. That worked for a long time until grandma came along and messed it up.”

27. “Parents used to tell my only brother and I that we used to have another brother who turned into a mushroom from not taking a bath. Even added him to the family albums.”

28. “My dad said if I could look after a special growing rock, and watered it each day until it stopped growing I could get a dog. I’d water it and every week, while I was at school he’d replace it with a slightly bigger rock.”

29. “The funniest one I heard was a father who was asked about coconuts in a store by his son. He said: ‘Don’t go near those son…those are bear eggs…'”

30. “That drawing is fantastic.”

31. “I’ve got eyes on the back of my head.”

32. “We’ll come back later and buy it.”

33. “If you have the lights on in the car at night, the police will pull us over.”

34. “If you don’t wipe your bum properly, it’ll close up and you’ll have to spit out your poop.”

35. “My dad told me oil stains on the street were little kids that got run over because they didn’t hold anyone’s hand while crossing the street.”

36. “To keep my sister and I busy my mom would tell us if we could kiss our elbow we would turn into the opposite sex..”

37. “Burger King is for royalty.”

Have you any funny lies that you were told when you were young? Do you tell lies to your kids? Comment below.

DD

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | e: digitaldaddiary@gmail.com

My Homemade Haircut Disaster

Thing 2 will be four in October and to look at him you’d think he came off the set of Point Break (think Bodhi). He has a blond curly mop of unkempt hair – unlike me but very much like our postman – that can at times obscure his vision but damn he’s a cutie.

Lately, however, we began to feel like the lack of grooming might be cruel as the constant brushing of his fringe away from his eyes made him look like he was constantly saluting us. I would always salute back.

I had planned to take him to my barber aka. the ten minute €10 haircut which has served me well for many a year – “short back and sides and leave the Jedward fringe please”. Our five-year-old now goes there too and like me, he’s in and out in a jiffy.

Thing 2, however, is a different beast. He’s more stubborn. He’s crankier. He’s more of a live wire. He’s Bodhi, a law into himself. As he gets older I’m hopeful sure he’ll mellow but to bring him to the barber would be a stretch too far for this cowardly dad…I just didn’t need the hassle or the stress.

Home Haircut

I had promised my darling wife that I wouldn’t give him a home cut but while the cat’s away, or rather at a yoga class, I decided to get the scissors out and strategically sheer him.

I had only ever done a home cut once before and although Thing 1 did end up looking like a Benedictine Monk I was convinced that I could do a better job with a lighter wavier head of hair. I was wrong.

A few snips here and a few snips there and everything seemed to be going swimmingly. In between chats about Paw Patrol and Mike the Knight we also played ‘I Spy’ until my ‘I Spy’ challenge resulted in Thing 2 shouting “the floor” and rapidly moving his head downwards.

Now while he got the answer right (“I Spy with my little eye something we stand on”) he also managed to lose half his fringe…the vertical half. I gasped. Half a floppy fringe and half a spiky scalpy fringe…no comb-over in the world was going to fix this atrocity. Bodhi was now long gone. What sat in front of me could only be described as a cross between Donald Trump and Flock of Seagulls.

As my adrenaline kicked in and Trump Seagull stared up at me I started to panic. Fine, the hair would grow back but my wife was going to be home soon so I was unclear what was in store for me.

It took a few days before we could make proper eye contact with Trump Seagull without cringing (thank god I collect trucker caps) and another few days for me to acknowledge that my sheering days were over.

My claims that it would have been easier if we had had a girl because it would be a simpler straighter cut (I was talking pure sh**e), fell on deaf ears.

To non-parents, this may not sound like a big ordeal and in the grand scheme of things it isn’t. The thing about cutting your child’s hair is the first unbearable ‘half fringed’ glimpse of them as a non-baby. We had waited 3 years and now he was a no longer our helpless little dude.

He has been shorn – had you seen him you might even say ‘branded’ – he is more grown up, more expressive, still cute but less cuddly. He is more Wall Street than Sesame Street.

I haven’t touched a pair of scissors since but we do have another son so third time lucky, who knows? In the meantime however the full salute has been reduced to a half salute and I continue to pray for the welcome return of Bodhi.

DD


Catch me on Facebook | Instagram |  Twitterdigitaldaddiary@gmail.com

Why I Tell My Kids They Can’t Be Anything They Want To Be

I came across a children’s book recently which depicted a character in a variety of impressive professions ranging from a sports star and a surgeon to an astronaut and a rock star. The core message of the book was that “You can be anything. What you achieve is only limited by your imagination”.

As I flipped through the book this message that our kids can do and achieve anything they put their minds to became more and more alluring. What parent wouldn’t want to believe that their children’s achievement is limited only by imagination?

What parent wouldn’t want to encourage their kids to pursue ambitious goals, like becoming a surgeon or an astronaut? Sign me up.

This is great I thought. Be gone with the damaging socio-cultural stereotypes of the sort that tell girls that they can’t become race car drivers, or disabled people that they can’t become athletes or people of a certain race that they can’t become world leaders.

But as I thought a bit more about it I wondered what could possibly be wrong with telling our kids that they can be anything? Surely it’s the right message to tell these influential young minds. They’re sponges after all; they’ll soak it all up, right?

The Downside of Goals
Well, kinda but there’s a flipside to everything. Goals intended to motivate can often have significant negative side effects on young minds.

Focusing on a goal is one thing but the failure to achieve these goals has the potential to damage a child’s self-worth and their ability to value others.

Intelligence, skill, ability, and personality are key factors to achieving ‘success’ but luck and chance also pay a huge part of what people have achieved and can achieve in their lives. Telling our kids that they can do anything ignores the huge role that chance can often play in success.

Not every child who wants to be a sports star, an actor or a surgeon can become one, even if they work hard at it. In every success story, there is often the grace of good fortune – a person being spotted in a restaurant who goes on to be an international model, a singer being spotted in a karaoke bar, an actor being spotted in a school play and so on.

Future Possibilities
Future Possibilities

Chance & Luck
Yes, skill is a key part of success, as is hard work but chance also plays a predominant role. Hollywood success stories are littered with chance and luck. For instance, Jennifer Lawrence was spotted in Union Square by a talent scout and before she knew it she was thrust into the spotlight with a future Oscar under her belt.

Lawrence is undoubtedly a very talented actor but her talent would still exist without her great success. It, therefore, begs the question what kind of life she would be living if she had hadn’t been walking through Union Square at the exact same time as the talent scout?

If we as parents promote the idea that success is primarily determined by factors such as skill, effort, determination and hard work then we’re ignoring the overriding influence of chance/luck and this is to the detriment of our children.

All children, like adults, will fail at things and it’s the children who don’t recognise the significant role that chance plays in determining outcomes that may blame themselves or give up trying.

My kids are still very young – six, four & 18 mths – so their goals and ambitions change on an hourly basis (my 4yo still can’t wipe his own butt which is a goal I hope – and pray – he achieves soon. If I see them fretting or getting stressed about something I tell them to relax, take a deep breath and not to worry about what hasn’t happened yet.

A mind that is constantly focusing on the future whether it be getting good grades, making the football team or applying to colleges can often be more be prone to greater anxiety and fear.

Don’t get me wrong, stress can also serve as a fantastic motivator but continued stress can often impair a person’s health and mental state.

Yes, it’s good to have goals to work towards (my kids are currently saving their pocket money to buy more Lego) but rather than continually encouraging them to focus on what’s next on their to-do list, I prefer to help them stay focused on the task or conversation at hand.

Digital Dad
My wife often refers to me as ‘The Slug’

Down Time
Again, my kids are very young to these tasks which are usually to complete their homework or to clean up their toys.

My wife often refers to me as ‘The Slug’ mainly because I know how and when to chill out. While it’s an unfortunate name to be called, I’m kind of proud of it because it means that I’m able to relax and switch off.

These days, particularly with the high usage of social media, more and more children are feeling anxious at a younger age. They are worried about grades, worried about being liked, worried about the future and feeling the pressure of growing up too fast.

In Ireland, we have a distressingly high rate of stress-induced suicides among children and young adults.

I’m in my 30’s and I already know five people who have passed away from suicide over the past 20 years. Not enough is being done to address this.

For this reason, but not this reason alone, I’m particularly conscious about not over-scheduling my kids. I make a concerted effort to allocate time for them to be left to their own devices. We have to remember that children are excellent at turning almost any situation into an opportunity to play.

They might read a book, climb a tree, play with their toys, draw ‘a slug’, lie on the couch or complete a jigsaw. I personally like to see them enjoying chill-out time which I hope will allow them to approach life from a more centred and relaxed place.

I hope I’m not coming across as ‘preachy’, that really isn’t my intention but from experience, I notice that giving my kids downtime helps them to learn and be more creative and innovative (I’ll exclude my 4yo’s wiping issues from this).

Superhero Kids
Superhero Kids

Comfort Zone
Like many parents I’m sure, I tend to identify my kids by their strengths and the activities that come most naturally to them.

There’s nothing wrong with this but I recently came across an interesting talk by Carol Dweck – Professor of Psychology at Stanford University – whose research showed that by doing this, we unintentionally box our children into a persona which makes them less likely to want to try out new things that they may not be good at.

So for instance, when a kid receives praise primarily for being athletic, they’re probably less likely to want to leave their comfort zone and try out for the music club or the drama club.

Again, my kids are probably still a bit young to put this to the test BUT in saying that, I introduced the Wii gaming console to them on Saturday and once Thing 1 (six) realised that he was good at a certain game – Mario Kart – he didn’t want to play any of the other games because, well, he wasn’t as good at them.

So what did I do? I caved and just let him go back to playing Mario Kart. Perhaps I should have persevered with the other games so that he could learn and improve.

Again going back to research by Dweck, our brains are wired to learn new things so instead of identifying our children’s strengths, we should teach them that they actually can learn anything, as long as they try.

By doing this, children will hopefully be more optimistic and even enthusiastic in the face of challenges, knowing that they just need to give it another go to improve.

And they will be less likely to feel down about themselves and their talents.

By the time this is published I’m in no doubt that my 4yo won’t have mastered his wipe but I’m confident that he’ll get there eventually and I’m happy enough with that. I could tell him that he can become the best ‘wiper in the world’ if he tries hard enough but I’m not going to because I’m sure there’s a 2yo out there who’s far better!

I joke of course but I asked people on my Facebook Page whether they tell their kids that ‘they can be anything that they want to be if they put their minds to it’ and the majority said that they do.

This isn’t surprising but I’d be very interested to know what you do and whether chance and luck are factors that are raised with your kids when they discuss their plans, goals and professional ambitions.

Comments welcome.

Tks

DD