Lies to “protect their innocence”. There are times when sanitising life is useful, but I suspect we often do this more to avoid embarrassment, and hence miss out on the chance to connect with our kids in a meaningful way.
My six-year-old, Connor, adores David Attenborough. After watching The Life of Mammals, he asked, “Dad, do you mate with Mummy?”
Apart from my internal reaction of, Fantastic, here’s five new minutes of comedy material!, I sensed this could be important. I played it straight and told him that with people it’s called “making love” and then explained exactly what happens. He gave me a gigantic hug, said, “I love you, Dad”, then went back to what he was doing. If, 300 years ago, children could see sex, birth, death and more on a daily basis, and the human race seemed to survive, then they must be much more resilient than we realise.
Lies to achieve better behaviour. These are a personal call, and I refuse to judge anyone. I know I’ve overstepped the mark here a few times (having picked up the phone and dialled the “Bad Boys’ Home”).
I’m not alone. One friend, whenever she hears a seatbelt in the back being unbuckled, pulls the car over to the side of the road, as if it’s broken down, then asks, “Has anyone undone their belt? The car won’t work unless they’re all done up.” Another convinced her kids that the doctors “fixed her ears” so that she “can’t hear whingeing”. When her children start moaning about something, she walks around, pretending she’s totally unaware of the racket, until they start using a normal voice. Awesome, truly awesome.
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