I remember the first time I realized my parents lied to me. It was after a little league game. I was very young but old enough to know you should probably hit the ball occasionally—which I didn’t. My mom looked at me with my eyes fixed on the ground and said, “Oh, Timmy. You were the best player on the team!” I knew it was untrue and it made me feel worse.
Most parents lie to their kids. You may not do it as egregiously as my mom did, but maybe you tell your child he is a great singer or trombone player or pitcher when he really isn’t. Most of these lies are innocent enough and might even be appropriate (You really do think your child is awesome, so it’s all subjective anyway.). However, there are lies that parents tell their kids that are not innocent. In fact, they can be dangerous. Here are 3 big lies we need to stop telling.
1. “You deserve the best _______.”One of the lies parents tell their kids is that the world owes them something.
We certainly want our kids to have the best of everything. That’s natural. However, when we tell our kids, “You are entitled to the best ____,” we imply that when they face disappointment or hardship or failure, the problem is not within them, but in other people or the situation itself. It’s much more important that our children become the kind of people who can “make the best” out of a less-than-perfect situation, rather than the kind who think they deserve the best. One of the lies parents tell their kids is that the world owes them something.
2. “You can be anything you want to be.”
Most kids won’t grow up to be in the NBA or write a best seller or perform on stage in New York. That’s just facts. It’s far more important that our children know that who they are is a gift to the world. The most important thing they can do is not aim for a corner office, but discover who they are and how they’ve been gifted and then learn how to be the best version of themselves.
Author Howard Thurman once said, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” I believe that’s true for us, and for our kids. They don’t need to aspire to be something great, they need to identify their gifts and do what makes them come alive.
3. “What other people say shouldn’t bother you.”
False. It’s normal to be bothered by some of the things people say to you. In fact, many of us walk around with the scars of words said carelessly that still find their way into our thoughts. Saying this both minimizes the pain that words cause our kids and teaches them that they can be careless with their words because it’s actions alone that really matter. Instead, we need to teach our kids the power of words. The more we can teach our children the power of the words they use, the more likely we are to raise adults who use their words well.
If we want our children to become adults who can handle the world well, we need to help them to see the world correctly. This requires honesty and authenticity from parents, even when it’s difficult.
Earn some points: Are you married? If so, share this iMOM article with your wife: 11 Lies Moms Believe.
Sound off: Are there other lies that parents tell their kids? What are they?