Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Liar, Liar

I have a tendency to lie. It's not something I'm proud of, but it's something I do.

Wait, stop! Let me start over. I lie, I find it a useful tool, and I've done it for as long as I can remember. I encounter too many situations where lying is far to valuable to discard as an option.

My lies are not intended to be sinister, they serve a purpose, whether it's to spare feelings, make someone feel better, save time, or for the occasional small personal gain. My intent while using them is not to harm. Whether or not they actually serve the purpose I believe they do would be an interesting topic for discussion another time. I recognize that my belief on their value and whether or not they are harmful is purely subjective and possibly rationalized.

I'm not here to talk about my burning pants though, this post is about Boof and a characteristic I see developing.

Recently Bronwyn has been caught in two lies, the first one was when she decided to take a pair of scissors to her jeans and then claimed she got a hole in them when she got up from kneeling by the cupboard and they caught her pants on the corner and ripped. The second is one where she didn't technically lie, she asked for her allowance after helping me around the house, the day after her mother told her she wasn't getting one for the week due to something she did wrong. (I wasn't aware that her allowance had been taken away for the week). There have been others over the past couple of months, but these two stand out as the most recent and most interesting examples.

If I haven't stated it before, my daughter is an emotional child, that's not to say other children aren't, but I'm convinced my daughter's excellent behavior is due to the fact that she doesn't want to disappoint people, rather then just from having inherently good manners. She's well behaved to the extreme and while she has moments of child like fun, she's never disobeys or argues in a child like manner(to the point that I get worried sometimes). In her five years of life, I can only remember one temper tantrum and it happened around 2 years old, so I chalk that up as an aberration.

At the points where she would make what I would consider a misstep, where I discuss with her why she should do something a certain way, she's burst into tears more times then I can count from making the 'wrong choice'. I could almost understand this behavior if the environment she was being raised in was militant, but in truth the wife and I take a very conversational approach to raising her, believing there is more value in helping her understand situations then just punishing her for it. (very hippy like, I know)

This is why I'm intrigued by her recent lies. The two situations were self serving for her, which is a bit of a new trait for her. For the first one, she definitely anticipated she would get in trouble by her mother if she admitted to what she did and she was well aware that she did something bad. The second situation she was very aware that she wasn't suppose to get her allowance this week, but decided that she wanted it anyway. (She has an unhealthy love of money for a 5 year old). The intriguing part for me is how naturally she performed the lies. I just would not have expected it to be so fluid at her age. In the case of the jeans, I wouldn't have expected her to come up with a story to explain the hole.

It makes me wonder if this is an inherent talent or whether I'm nurturing the skill in her? If so, I wonder if it's a bad thing. I mentioned before that I find it a useful tool although I do think there are parameters needed around it. I do know for the development years and for the time being the message to her has to be that lying is wrong, it's not going to be tolerated, and that I'll have to punish her if it continues. (There are far to many situations a child could experience where truth is absolutely a must) I'm guessing though that she won't stop doing it, and I'm fully expecting her too, maybe that's how she'll develop the parameters and understanding of when it could potentially be ok to tell a lie. I need to learn to keep a straight face I think.


Bexy said...

Oh boy... that is a tough one :| First of all I have to say good job on raising a child who doesn't throw tantrums lol. As for the lying... I think that all kids do it at one time or another. I know I have caught mine in lies more than a few times. Scissors were involved as well lol. I know you don't yell at her but she still may be afraid of disappointing you and so she would rather lie to keep it from happening. I think for now you should explain that lying is not good and you would be more disappointed to find out she was lying (and you will find out). As she matures she will know when lying is appropriate and when it isn't :) You need her to be able to tell you anything!

Michael said...

Thanks Bexy, she definitely is lying at times to not disappoint and I think you are right, it's best to utilize that to try and get her not to. She will figure it out eventually that there maybe times where it's appropriate and I'm in agreement with you, I want her to be able to say anything to me. It does always seem to involve scissors for little girls doesn't it?

I probably should have clarified too, typically I don't have to yell at her for bad behavior, but she still has moments where she pushes the right button and gets yelled at :)