There have been many talks, studies, and writeups by therapists about children lying to their parents. On the other hand, discussions about parents lying to their children are rare. Telling white lies to a toddler-aged kid has been normalized by many when it comes to parenting. Once you get to your teenage years or young adulthood, and your parents still do this act, conflicts tend to arise, and the gap tends to increase.
Research suggests most people consider it socially and culturally acceptable for parents to use white lies with their children. Psychologists and therapists identify some common reasons for parents’ white lies, including the protection of their children and their interests.
Parents also cover up the truth to shape their children’s behavior and feelings. Research from two related studies on parental lying and deception in the United States found parents also use white lies as a strategy to make their children happy.
Impact Of Parental Lying On A Parent-Child Relationship
It has been proven parental lying damages your relationship with your parents and diminishes intrinsic motivation. As a result, you will not learn the appropriate behavior you need to demonstrate if you always cooperate when they tell you white lies. Lying also tends to exhaust parents mentally as they must always remember the story they created to look and sound consistent.
Parents are hurting their children when they lie to them. As you grow old while you get used to your parents contradicting the truth you have come to know, you end up doubting yourself. At a young age, you should already have your inner sense of right and wrong through your parents’ encouragement. You may be denied a healthy personality once you are unable to trust yourself because of your parents.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have found children can sense when their parents are lying to them. It can lead them to distrust their parents, the very people who should teach them ethical values. Children, especially those who are beyond the age of curiosity, are not gullible and know when their parents are withholding information.
A New York Times article also pointed out that psychiatrists have been seeking to determine when white lies become destructive. Moreover, they have also been studying which kinds of mental health problems can be derived consequently. Therefore, parental lying may not only negatively impact a parent-child relationship but also cause serious health and well-being issues within the family.
Tips On Dealing With Your Parents’ White Lies
- Always ask your parents genuine questions. Every time you ask your parents about something you would like to know, measure their truth’s consistency. Show them you are eager to know the ‘real truth’ and how it will effectively and positively affect you as their child and as an individual.
- Sympathize with your parents. It is crucial that at a young age, you already learn how to let your parents know you understand them and their struggles. Show your parents how open-minded and understanding you have become. As a result, they will no longer deny you the truth you seek to know even if it might hurt your feelings. Make them feel you are on the same page.
- Avoid being overpowered by disappointment. As previously mentioned, parents often lie to protect their children’s emotions. It does not mean they are already removing parental support and guidance. As their child, you might face disappointments from your parents’ white lies and suspicious actions. You must know how not to overthink everything. Find a solution alongside your parents rather than on your own.
- Distinguish the difference between acceptable and forbidden lies. Learning about the boundaries between truth and consequences at a young age are likely to stay with us as we grow up and old. You must not be oversensitive about everything and realize the white lies created by your parents are not always about or because of you.
- Let them know what you value as a person. It is okay to be vocal as a child, especially when you demonstrate and maintain a respectful behavior. Open communication has been a vital, fundamental key to keeping a harmonious relationship within every group or network such as your family. Tell them directly how you feel about things and what you would like to know to improve yourself and manage growth.
Therapists have been giving expert advice to parents who still use lying as a parenting strategy. Now it is time you do your part as a growing child to understand your parents’ white lies and let them know you deserve to know the truth.