Lies. They always start out small, but they never stay that way, do they? You tell one lie, then you need to tell one more to cover the story you told with the first lie. Then it turns into one, two, three more, until there are so many layers of lies that you can’t even keep track anymore, and the truth comes out in the end.
It’s funny, as grown-ups and parents, we often think nothing of telling out kids little lies. “It is to protect them” we think. “The sleepover is cancelled tonight”, “I’m sure that he meant to invite you to the party, maybe the invitation just got lost!”, “I’m sure he didn’t mean to hurt your feelings”. It’s easier that way and it spares them a bit of heartache. Right now. It’s a gentle way to skirt around the truth.
The truth almost always comes out though, one way or another. Someone talks about the sleepover that was supposed to have been cancelled, you find out that the invitation just didn’t get lost at school, or someone makes it explicitly clear that yes indeed, they did mean to hurt your feelings and they will darn sure do it again. It sucks.
That little lie, meant to protect someone, has now caused them even more heartbreak. Nobody wants that, least of all for your child, but sometimes it is just better to be honest with the truth right up front. “Yes sweetie, I know you’d like to go to the sleepover tonight, but the big kids are planning to stay up late and you are just too young to do that right now.” “I’m so sorry to say, but even though he told you that he was going to invite you, he didn’t. I know it makes you sad, but we can do something fun together instead.” “Sometimes people are just plain jerks. I know you don’t talk to other people like that, but some people don’t think about how their words make others feel”.
Sometimes, as hard as it may be, it’s easier in the long run to be honest with our kids. It may sting a bit, but it can be like ripping off a bandaid. When you do it fast, it stings at first, but the sting goes away pretty quickly. Obviously, there are times when a white lie is the best thing for everyone, but I have found that, in my experience anyways, it’s just better to try and tell the truth when you can. The last thing you want to do is have to set up a web of stories to cover something up, and then be caught in it by your kids later on.
I recently got drawn into the new series Bloodline on Netflix. This series is a great example of what can happen when lies come back to haunt you. It’s about a family in the Florida Keys who have all come together to celebrate a big occasion at the resort property that they own. As ex soon discover, every family has their secrets, and no matter how hard you try, or how deeply you think you have buried them, they won’t stay buried forever. I am about halfway through the season right now and am hooked. It is a darker series, but has a very compelling storyline. We all have those things about us that we would prefer to keep hidden, but the more people who are involved or know, the less likely that is to actually happen. I can’t wait to see what happens in the rest of the season, but I’m a bit worried about how things are going to come out in the end. Yes, I get invested in shows I watch on occasion. I’m weird, I know.
Personally, I would rather someone tell me the truth than a flat out lie. Tell me that skirt doesn’t look great. Then help me find something that does. Be open that you are having a small get together with friends that doesn’t include me, but suggest that we hang out another time. If you have a problem with me, or something that I have said or done, tell me. Don’t pretend to be my friend and then gossip about me behind my back. Don’t hide behind a veil of half truths to spare my feelings, because chances are you are doing it more to make yourself feel better than me. I’m a pretty straight up person, and have seen first hand how lies and secrets can hurt a family. Even when you think that you are doing something to protect someone, when that truth comes out it is going to hurt. And you can be assured that if probably will, because it almost always does.
So tell me, how do you handle these situations? Are you a blunt bandaid ripper or a gentle truth skirter? Or do you prefer to just bury those secrets so deep that no one will ever (hopefully) find them?
I am a part of the Netflix StreamTeam, and get to share some of my favourites with you each month. All opinions are my own, and as always, I’m sharing because I truly think you will enjoy it.