I always swore that I would never lie to my kids in order to manipulate them to do something I want. I was one of those people without kids who judged parents. I’d hear a mother in the store: “Come on, Johnny…..It’s time to leave…..Ok bye. We’re leaving.” (Parent pretends to leave the child behind). I always hated that. Like a parent would ever purposely leave their child behind! How manipulative! It’s such a short-sighted way to parent. What are you going to do when the child is old enough to figure out that you won’t leave them behind?
As you can see….I’m still passionate about the subject. When I had my first child, I was still firm in my resolve to never lie to my child to manipulate him. And I never did. For awhile. Yes. That’s right. I’ve fallen. I’ve fallen into the ranks of the liars. Many things change when you become a parent. But I still don’t think it’s right.
I’ve fallen and I’m confessing it here to everyone on earth except the one to whom it matters. Here’s what happened:
Elias is a very picky eater. Lots of other parents try to say that their child is picky too. Yeah right. You don’t got anything on my son. Don’t even try complaining to me about picky eating. So…as a result…going to restaurants is not very enjoyable for us. A few weeks ago we were at McGrath’s for my brother’s birthday celebration. As we looked over the menu trying to decide what we might be able to coax him to eat, I noticed that pears were a choice for a side. There was nothing on the menu that I knew Elias would eat….but I thought to myself…”Hmmm….pears kind of look like apples. They taste sort of similar to apples. Elias likes apples. I’ll just tell him they are apples and he will eat them!”
See….I should have seen right there that that would be a lie. A lie told to manipulate my son. But I did it anyway because I just wanted him to eat something.
The food came and I pointed out his apples. My mom even unknowingly tried to help me out. She exclaimed…”Ohhhhh Elias! You have pears!” I quickly explained to her that they were apples …..not pears….and she looked at me confused but didn’t say anything else.
Elias picked up the pear. He took a bite. He looked at the pear a bit funny. He took one more bite. And he said, “Those apples are not good.”
Well so much for the plan….it got two bites out of him. It was a bummer, but I quickly forgot about it…until the next day. The next day at lunch I served Elias apples for lunch. He wouldn’t eat them.
Noooooooo! I thought I had ruined one of the few foods he does eat. I tried to explain that those were at the restaurant and the ones on his plate were yummy home apples. It didn’t do any good.
At lunch the next day I offered apples again. Elias did not want to eat them, but I finally convinced him to take one bite, and he decided to eat them all. Phew!
We went to McGrath’s on March 22nd. I’ve offered Elias apples almost every single day since them. And every single day he says, “those restaurant apples were not good. these are not restaurant apples.” I have to assure him every day that these are the good home apples before he will eat them. Every. Single. Day.
What have I done? I have given my son a complex about apples just because I was trying to exert power. Trying to manipulate. What kind of mother am I? What am I teaching him?
It’s a teeny tiny lie about a couple pear slices for goodness sakes, but it has become a big deal for me. Mothering is not only in the big things. Mothering is in the small things too. In the day to day life. The small conversations. The small tasks. No moment is too small to teach your child what it means to be a good person.
So I am trying to renew my commitment here not to lie to my child. Ever. Period.
And the next time he brings up the restaurant apples, I am going to confess to him what I did. I don’t know if he will understand or not. But teaching my child how to own up to mistakes has to start some time. Let it start for me today.
I feel for you so much about having a picky eater. It’s so difficult at restaurants or when they go to someone else’s house to eat. Don’t be too hard on yourself about the pear to apples lie. You were trying to get Elias to eat something and had good intentions. I think that it is a good decision to not lie to your children, though, to get them to do something, because there are usually unfortunate consequences like this. Don’t despair though. Elias will eat more and try new things as he gets older. I speak from experience!