As a university lecturer and former journalist, I’ve always had an obsession with the truth. Any of my friends will tell you how I correct hoaxes and outright lies wherever I come across them.
Some will also tell you this is very annoying on social media. Nevertheless, I continue pointing out that the Great Wall of China cannot be seen from outer space, immigrants receive the same level of financial government support as pensioners, lightning CAN strike the same place twice and don’t even get me started on vaccines causing autism. But as a parent, it’s often much harder to maintain the truth imperative.
Recently one of the girls came home from school with the question “Is it true eating boogers is bad for you?” It seems a simple answer would be “What?!? Don’t pick your nose and eat it!”. However, that’s not actually answering the question. Even scarier – the truth would appear to be that it’s actually good for you.
A recent scientific study showed the distasteful act is actually “a reservoir of good bacteria”. Seriously. Google it.
So how do you answer? Obviously arming your kids with just that knowledge is a sure path to social alienation but do you actually lie? Does the end justify the means?
They come home from school saying one of their friends claims to be “a princess back in Egypt”. How do you answer that without it potentially going back to school in an antagonistic way?
We chide our kids for dishonesty while peddling stories about the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy. But at some point, they’re going to have to learn that a jolly man in a red suit doesn’t really break and enter repeatedly at Christmas.
It’s not just the yes/no nature of truth-telling with our kids – sometimes it’s the when. This grey area is difficult for us parents. “Where do babies come from?” elicits a completely different response at age 5 as it might at age 10. Actually is 10 greatly different from 12 when it comes to sex? Or 9? That’s not necessarily a conversation I’m looking forward to. I’m not even sure when it will be. Hmm… Seems like the kids aren’t the only ones who can’t handle the truth.