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A new study finds that casually fibbing to children results in lifelong issues.
- For simplicity and speed, parents may employ untruths as conversation-enders and to coerce desirable behavior using empty threats.
- Telling kids not to lie while modeling contrary behavior is, not surprisingly, a problem.
- Lying as an adult is just one of the issues lied-to children exhibit as grownups.
Why parents lie<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTE4MDQ0Ny9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTU5ODExNjE2OH0.NEx_qeCGiQRR4bqT2mAh2hoRPb7AUdQ8CpQ7F9-cV-g/img.jpg?width=980" id="1502f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="38b3a6be1ad8891017bc436419dca948" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: SpeedKingz/Shutterstock<p>The 24/7 demands of parenting can be relentless, and it's easy to understand why an exhausted Mom or Dad may be attracted to shortcuts that seem to save time and obviate the need for complicated explanations that would require maturity to grasp. There are lots of these:</p> <ul> <li>"If you don't come right now, I'm going to leave you in this store."</li> <li>"No TV for the rest of the week if you don't do your homework now."</li> <li>"Mommy/Daddy will always be here."</li> <li>Even the classic, no-one-knows-why-it-works-so-well, "I'm counting: 1…2…" It's inherently a bluff. Most kids never find out what would happen at 3. Few parents know, either.</li> </ul> <p>Nonetheless, trust shifts once a child sees that actually you'll wait for them to come and not abandon them in the store, and the implicit message is ultimately, "I tell you never to lie, but I do it to you all the time."</p><p>"Authority assertion over children is a form of psychological intrusiveness," points out Setoh, "which may undermine children's sense of autonomy and convey rejection, ultimately undermining children's emotional well-being. Future research should examine the nature of the lies and goals of the parents so that researchers can suggest what kind of lies to avoid, and what kind of truth-telling parents should engage in."</p>
The study<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTE4MDQ0OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNTE1NTUxM30.2d1zFfVbq0lRVDOP8qjMVszZAdJpU3UpMPuP_mEN3PU/img.jpg?width=980" id="f1302" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d09d7d1f8563bf86cdd0b67017e9caa9" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Peerawit/Shutterstock<p>The study published in the September issue of the <em><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S002209651830540X" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Journal of Experimental Child Psychology</a></em> was a collaboration between Setoh and researchers from University of Toronto in Canada, University of California, San Diego in the U.S., and Zhejiang Normal University in China.</p><p>The subjects were 379 young adults from Singapore who responded to questions posed in online surveys:</p> <ul> <li>The subjects were asked if their parents ever lied to them about four particular subjects: eating, leaving or staying, misbehavior, or money.</li> <li>They were next queried about how often they lied as adults to their parents about activities, if they exaggerated about events, or if they told lies intended to benefit others.</li> <li>Finally, the subjects filled out two questionnaires self-reporting their own psychosocial maladjustments and tendency to act selfishly or impulsively.</li> </ul> <p>The results may be taken with a few caveats. First, self-reporting can be unreliable. Second, while the subjects' answers show a correlation between parental lying and individuals' behaviors, it's just that, a correlation that may or may not indicate the true cause of their problems. Finally, Setoh suggests a more complete picture of the mechanisms at play could be gained from a study that involves both young adults <em>and</em> their parents.</p>
How to change<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTE4MDQ0OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNTkxODU1MH0.X4Wka-vX-Mr8xRWJPMA6wfsItASSKpOclJpv6RTCwLw/img.jpg?width=980" id="63305" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="42ef0278d50e73c0ef599674e55088cd" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: The Faces/Shutterstock<p>Setoh <a href="https://media.ntu.edu.sg/NewsReleases/Pages/newsdetail.aspx?news=05752f3b-61a0-4102-8919-47940b01c15b" target="_blank">tells</a> NTU, "Parents should be aware of these potential downstream implications and consider alternatives to lying, such as acknowledging children's feelings, giving information so children know what to expect, offering choices and problem-solving together to elicit good behavior from children."</p><p>To respond effectively, honestly, and relatively easily to difficult inquiries, answer the question being asked and stop. A child questioning you about such topics will never ask, "Tell me all about sex," for example, but more likely, "Did I live in your tummy?" or "How did I get in there?" By honestly answering the question being asked, you don't have to lie, and you're unlikely to be met with any difficult follow-up questions since the child needs time to absorb and process the new information. They may get back to you later with a follow-up, of course, at which point you do the same thing. Few people asking what time it is want to know how to build a clock.</p>
Elitism has come under fire since the recent wave of populist politics. But when we don't listen to experts, we end up listening to politicians' lies, says Richard Dawkins.
You want expert pilots to fly your planes, top doctors to perform your surgeries, the finest musicians in your orchestra, and for the same reason, you should want experts leading the nation, says Richard Dawkins. There has been a backlash against expert knowledge amid the rising wave of populist politics, but Dawkins doesn't think elitism is the dirty word that people are implying. He contends that not all opinions are equal, and that the leaders of the UK were profoundly misguided in allowing a referendum on Brexit to occur. No average citizen—not even Dawkins himself—was fit to decide on whether to leave a federation of states with so much economic and political importance, and decades of complex history attached to it. And much like the 2016 US presidential election, it was a political movement fueled by misinformation. A representative democracy is one thing, where citizens entrust experts to make national and local decisions, but a referendum democracy seems to Dawkins extremely ill-advised, particularly given that the top Google search in the UK the day after the Brexit vote was 'What is the European Union?'. Dawkins isn't shy: he's an elitist, but a rational one. He affirms he would never want a world where your IQ determines how many votes you get, but he sees the clear benefit of making political decisions based on knowledge rather than emotion or misinformation, deliberate or otherwise. Richard Dawkins' newest book is Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist.
A recent study shows that children just 3 years of age learn how to deceive others for personal gain when exposed to competitive games.
Most children have the cognitive abilities needed for lying by the time they're 3 1/2 years old. However, a recent study published in the journal Developmental Science shows that kids even younger than that can quickly and spontaneously learn to lie when they're exposed to competitive games.
“We love, as a culture, to attack messengers when the message is something that makes us feel uncomfortable,” says journalist Wesley Lowery.
It’s no coincidence, says Wesley Lowery, that freedom of the press was one of the first things that the U.S. founders enshrined in the Constitution. It was people of that time’s ability to report on and openly discuss their situation that sparked the revolution. It became clear then that a free press is the ultimate safeguard for democracy.