I am not a parent, a fact that children everywhere are most grateful for. Although I always thought I would be a great father—like Calvin’s dad, but with more flair. For some reason, all actual parents seem to think that I’m a bad influence on their kids. Like it’s wrong to lie to them or something!
Now I have research on my side. It may be wrong to lie to children, but all parents do it. And not in ways that explain important things like Charles’s Law. Research published in the International Journal of Psychology did interviews with 200 parents in China and the United States. And they all lied! (To the kids, not the researchers. I think.) Check this out:
The researchers claim that this is due to “the universality of the challenge parents face in trying to leave a place against their child’s wishes.” I don’t think so. I suspect this isn’t even the most common lie. Rather, I think this is the lie that parents remember because they feel bad about it. They think, “What if someone thinks I would really leave my child?” When you think about it, this is kind of sweet. Or many not.
One mother told her child, “If you don’t follow me, a kidnapper will come to kidnap you while I’m gone.” There could be a little verbalized fantasy going on here. I may not be a parent, but I can see that being one is a trial at times. Recently, Bill Maher (about as knowledgeable of kids as I am) said he knew that a stem cell was not a baby because you could put a stem cell in the freezer and you can’t a baby. And how did he know that? Because if parents could put their babies in the freezer, they would. “We need a vacation; let’s put Junior in the freezer until we get back!”
Anyway, I don’t think lying is a bad thing. Mostly, I think it’s good. You look great! What a wonderful song that was! I didn’t mean to kill the first few! Okay, maybe not that last one. But I certainly think that my “educational” moments with kids should be seen in charming. And the kids will someday too. “Uncle Frank? I just made a fool of myself! Why did you tell me unicorns were hunted to extinction by Neanderthals?!”