Wedding Woes

Why do you follow rules?

Most of us will admit to lying to our kids on occasion. We make up stories about fairies who pay money for teeth and praise even the sloppiest artistic efforts. These parental fibs are rare and motivated mostly by a desire to make our children happy. Or are they? According to a recent study, parents lie to their children more often and about more things than you might think. And their motivation for bending the truth isn’t always altruistic. To uncover the truth about when and why parents lie, researchers conducted two separate studies. In one, they asked 130 graduate students to comment on specific scenarios in which a lie was told to influence a child’s behavior or emotions. Such scenarios included threats of police intervention if a child didn’t stop crying or a tall tale about a dead relative becoming a star in the sky. Almost 90 percent of the students admitted to being told at least one of those types of lies as a child. In the other study, 130 parents were given the same scenarios and asked to indicate whether they had told similar lies to their own children. Despite more than 70 percent claiming they teach their children that lying is wrong, nearly 80 percent admitted to using lying as a parenting tool. So, what’s the harm in telling a little white lie in order to head off a temper tantrum or scare a child into submission? Well, there’s that whole issue of trust. Some day little Johnny is going to figure out that mommy doesn’t really have police officers on standby waiting for her call. But beyond that, researchers say that lying to your kids in order to influence their behavior may impede the learning process. If a child behaves only because he’s afraid of the made-up consequences, will he ever learn to follow the rules without the threat of legal action? This study was small and preliminary and therefore doesn’t really give much insight into the long-term consequences of parental lying. But it’s a fascinating subject that begs the question: What’s the biggest whopper you’ve told your kids? Did it work?------------------------I mean, ideally, we all follow the rules because we're good people. Except, there are lots of rules that I follow only because of the threat of legal action - paying taxes, for example, or doing the speed limit when I see a cop. Kids are often fuzzy on the concept of "because it's wrong", so I don't see what's so terrible about getting good behaviour through the application of uncomfortable consequences until they learn it. (Of course, telling them the cops will show up is just dumb. You can't ever make good on that threat - and it's therefore useless as a parenting tool.)

Re: Why do you follow rules?

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    DG1DG1 member
    5 Love Its Name Dropper First Anniversary First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Well, some rules have nothing to do with being a good person.  And often, the actual consequences of a decision are *so* far removed from the actual event that it's hard to make the connection. For me, this is why I still eat fast food, probably. For a kid, even "staying up late will make you cranky tomorrow" or "If you leave your food out, bugs will come" won't work, either. The consequence is too distant from the action.  So yeah, sometimes you have to invent a consequence, like taking away TV privileges or dessert or whatever.

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    GBCKGBCK member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its Name Dropper First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Interesting that they don't seem to make a distinction between "If you keep making that face, your skin will freeze that way" and "fairies come and drink the milk you leave out for them".I wonder where santa falls on their radar...and where my dad's stories of our dead-imaginary brother would.
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