Right in the church hallway, my 20 month old daughter plopped her little bottom on the floor and refused to move. I had told her we were leaving and she wanted to nothing to do with it. I was carrying her newborn brother and had no free hands. Having seen many parents tell their children that they would leave them behind if they didn’t come, I thought I would try the same thing. It worked so I thought it must be excellent parenting. I received obedience, right? Isn’t that the goal?
Little did I know at the time that I was breeding trust issues and using threats to manipulate my child. The International Journal of Psychology just recently published research that shows that almost every parent teaches their child that lying is wrong, yet many use lies to get their children to behave. You have probably heard it: “You better be nice or you won’t get any presents from Santa Claus.” “If you don’t come, I’ll leave you behind.” “If you don’t clean up your toys, I’m going to throw your toys away.” “If you don’t eat your food, you’ll sit there all day.”
To many a parent, these phrases all seem innocent enough. Maybe you even move to leave your child behind. The question is “Would you really leave your child?” No, you wouldn’t – it’s child abuse. Does your child know this? Of course not, but it does breed lack of trust. In the immediate, it breeds the trust issue of my parents always being there for me. Innocently, we have communicated to our child that if his behavior does not meet our standards, we won’t be there for him.
As our child grows, she will come to realize that we never really would leave her behind. She realizes we have lied to her. He realizes Santa Claus isn’t real, and you wouldn’t really make him eat that food if he hasn’t eaten it in an hour. These children begin to question everything. Is God real or is He just a lie that you have used to control her? Would you really take her side when someone physically abuses her? As she goes through puberty and peer pressure, can she trust your advice or is it just more to control her behavior?
The research from the International Journal of Psychology showed that 84% of parents in the US lie to their children in some form. What is the solution to all the lying? Are we just doomed?
The very best thing we can do is practice compliance at home. Training outside the home breeds frustration in both parents and children. Be consistent. Don’t use idle threats. Establish consequences to every behavior and immediately follow through. If a child does not listen and comply immediately, follow through the consequence you have established right then rather than giving another command. Many children are trained to wait till the 3rd or 4th time a parent has given a command, and that is the very reason parents struggle in public.
What are your thoughts on lying to children for obedience?Tweet