Friday, September 26, 2008

Are we teaching our children to be honest?

A five-year-old girl looked at a lady she had known for about a year and said, “You have a big bum”. The adult turned to her and said, “That is mean. You have a big head”. The child was not trying to hurt the ladies feelings; she was making an honest observation. She was confused by the reprimand and comment about her head.

To my shame I did not open my mouth to support the child. I was just shocked by the adult’s response, and was not sure how to deal with this when it was not my child. I know what I would have said if she had been talking to my daughter. “Your bum is big and so is mine, so what!” I figured the parent would deal with it, but I had forgotten that she is deaf and did not hear what was said. She was dealing with her son and was not in a position to lip read. I do feel guilty for not saying something to support the little girls honesty.

It did make me think about how honest children are. If you want a real honest answer ask a child’s opinion on something. They will tell you your breath stinks, that shirt does make you look fat and dinner is gross. Then we start to teach them to be polite, or lie to make people feel better. I don’t know about most people, but I know my butt is big and having someone tell me my butt does not look that big in those pants does not change the fact my butt is still big. If my breath is stinky I want to know so I can do something about it.

My husband would eat some dinner disaster of mine and I would be saying “this is bad” but he would keep on eating and saying it was fine because he did not want to hurt my feelings. Even after I would say, “It is so bad I did not want to eat it”, he would not admit it was horrible. For years he ate things way over spiced because he did not want to hurt my feelings. I would much rather had him tell me it was over spiced or not to his taste, that was why I was asking in the first place, to find out how he felt about the meal so I knew what he liked and did not like. He suffered for years because he did not want to be rude. I don’t even have to ask my kids, they tell me what they don’t like and why. Knowing makes it easer to have meals that actually get eaten, especially with kids who’s likes and dislikes seem to change with the direction of the wind.

In my home we are guilty of telling our children that we don’t want to hear about something anymore. Every time a toy commercial comes on all we hear is, “I want that”. It gets very frustrating after a few times of trying to explain that we don’t have the money so we end up saying, “I don’t want to hear that you want anything, don’t tell me you want it again”. Which is telling our kids not to admit they want things. We realized this and have changed it to, “put it on your Christmas list, maybe Santa will pick that one for you”. But we are still guilty of saying, “I don’t care anymore about who did what, just stop fighting” which is just a way of saying don’t tell me the truth, or the truth does not matter as long as the adults get the result they want.

I think that it is a fine line we walk when we are trying to teach our children not to be rude or demanding. They need to understand that it is ok to be honest about what you think, feel or want. We as the adults have to remember they are children learning about life. What does it say about our society when one of the things we teach is for them to not express themselves, make observations or state they like or dislike something? What are we putting more value on, honesty or dishonesty and emotional suppression to keep other people happy?

Mind you this is an observation from someone who does not have a filter on her mouth. I say what I think most of the time. If you ask for my opinion your going to get an honest opinion, so don’t ask me if you just want to make your ego feel better. I don’t go out of my way to be rude or insensitive, but I am honest and blunt about things. I respect that in others far more then the polite responses used to placate others. So of course I respect a child’s honesty. If I don’t like what kids have to say I don’t turn on the child and reprimand them or teach them to lie. If my butt is huge than I have to acknowledge and accept that it is and if I don’t like it do something about it. Not make people lie to me about it.

1 comment:

  1. You touched a chord, here. Last haloween when my kids did not want the candy they were offered, I wondered whether I should teach them to be "polite", take it and then throw it in the trash or say "no thank you". The former was against my anti-wastage values while the latter could hurt someone's feelings.

    P.S: Came to your site via mybloglog