Parents tell lies to make their kids good


Asian-American parents were also found to report lying to their children. A possible explanation is that they tend to place a greater emphasis on the importance of teaching children to be respectful and obedient.
In one of the two studies, many parents reported they told their children that bad things would happen if they didn't go to bed or eat what they were supposed to.

For example, one mother said she told her child that if he didn't finish all of his food he would get pimples all over his face. Other parents reported inventing magical creatures.

One explained: "We told our daughter that if she wrapped up all her pacifiers like gifts, the 'paci-fairy' would come and give them to children who needed them. I thought it was healthier to get rid of the pacifiers, and it was a way for her to feel proud and special."

In the other study, college students were surveyed about recollections regarding their parents lying and obtained similar results: parents often lie to their children even as they tell them that lying is unacceptable.
"We are surprised by how often parenting by lying takes place," said Kang Lee, professor in child study, Toronto University and study co-author.
"Moreover, our findings showed that even the parents who most strongly promoted the importance of honesty with their children engaged in parenting by lying," Lee added.

However, Gail Heyman, psychology professor, University of California, San Diego (UCSD) thinks that there are occasions when it is appropriate to be less than truthful with a child - "telling a two-year-old you don't like their drawing is just cruel."

"Children sometimes behave in ways that are disruptive or are likely to harm their long-term interests," said Heyman. "It is common for parents to try out a range of strategies, including lying, to gain compliance," she said.

The research was published in the current edition of The Journal of Moral Education.

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