There’s Power in a Lie When You’re a Mom

lyingWhen my daughter was young, I made an impossible promise. It’s what all new moms do. We’re never going to feed our kids processed sugar, use a TV as a babysitter, or lie to them.

All of which lasts until their first Easter, the first time you have a splitting headache, and the first time they ask a really awkward question — in that order.

I don’t consider myself much of a liar. If anything, I’m too honest. My friend D. finally called me on my bad habit of saying, “well, if it makes you feel better … ” only to share a brutally honest tale that really didn’t make him feel in the least bit better.

Nor do I consider it good role modeling to stretch the truth at every turn. If anything, it’s just plain lazy parenting to make up some fanciful tale about storks and fluffy bunnies instead of putting on your big girl pants and just telling kids about sperm and eggs. They’re going to learn the hard stuff sometime — wouldn’t you prefer it’s from you, rather than some kid on the school bus who doesn’t know a uterus from a unicorn?

But there are lines that have to be drawn. Adults — parents included — deserve some privacy. Just because our kids ask extremely personal questions does not mean we have to answer them.

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This is where you have to draw the line between being their parent … and their friend. A friend opens up about everything. A parent decides that some things are “adult things” and some things are “kid things,” and there’s a line between them.

So I don’t tell my daughter every time I worry about money. Or have a fight with her father. Or feel like the demon bulimia is roaring around in my head. I don’t tell her because there’s nothing she can do — and a worrier by nature, she would worry. She doesn’t have to worry. I’m a big girl. I can take care of myself. That’s what moms do. And kids should do what kid do: be kids.

I don’t tell her because she needs to feel safe and secure.

But there’s a selfishness to it too. I don’t tell her because I’m her mother, but not beholden to give all of myself over to her. I’m still me. I still have secrets, deserve to have secrets.

I don’t tell my Facebook friends those things either — because they’re private. But unlike my Facebook friends, she asks. Because she’s a kid. And kids ask questions. So where I can simply self edit on Facebook — which so many more Americans should do (please?!) — I have to make a conscious decision with my kid when to be honest … and when to lie.

And while new mom me would cringe, I’ve come to realize that you can’t stay sane and stay honest all at the same time.


Have you “liked” Inside Out Motherhood on Facebook yet?

This post was written for Netflix to celebrate their new original show about a family full of dirty, filthy liars — Bloodline.

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