Children Lie

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Categories Discipline, Financial Literacy, Guilt, Mommy Issues, Older Children, Parenting, Special Needs, Talking to Kids, Theme WeekTags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 6 Comments

I’ve gone back and forth on whether to blog about this incident. It’s embarrassing to one of my daughters, but not atypical for children their age. Seven-year-olds lie and even steal. It’s developmentally appropriate, but not socially or morally acceptable. Maybe our story will help another parent know that she’s not alone in tackling these issues. Here’s what happened.

For their 7th birthday, I got each of my daughters a gift card to a local bookstore. I like to use gift cards to teach my girls financial decision-making. The finite balance on the gift card teaches them that paying with plastic should be treated as responsibly as paying with cash. When they run out, they’re out. It encourages budgeting and exercises their basic arithmetic while they’re shopping. They have to factor in sales tax. Whenever possible, I try to set up situations where my daughters spend their gift cards over multiple shopping trips. I figure it helps them understand the idea of debit and the longterm record-keeping required to track their gift card balance is a good exercise.

The gift cards I gave J and M were identical. Although I suggested that we simply write their names on each one, the girls elected to distinguish them differently. One of them decided that she would remove the hangtag from her card while the other left hers intact.

Nearly two months after our initial shopping venture, the girls asked to go to the bookstore this weekend. I asked them to grab their gift cards and buckle up in the car. I gathered up my things while they packed up theirs. The one who’d left her hangtag on let us know that she’d found her gift card, but removed the tag so that the card would fit in the wallet. The other child was upset, feeling that Sissy had gone back on an agreement. It didn’t help that she couldn’t find her gift card.

I happened to know where the second gift card was. Someone had just left her card lying on the floor of the living room last time we went to the bookstore. Despite two reminders, it was never put away, so I picked it up and set it aside.

I retrieved the gift card and discovered that it was the one with the hangtag still attached. My daughter had claimed her sister’s gift card and concocted a lie to cover it up. I showed her the gift card and she instantly knew she was caught. Sister didn’t even realize what she was witnessing. I explained it to her, and she was understandably appalled. Her sister had essentially stolen from her and then lied to cover it up.

The offending party volunteered that the appropriate consequence for her actions was my permanently confiscating her gift card. I didn’t want to do that, but I did tell her that she would not be spending her card on this trip. Sister not only forgave her, but bought the offender a book with her own card.

The next day, I took a moment alone to talk to my daughter about why she’d made the series of choices she had. She didn’t want to talk about it because she felt bad. I reminded her that she had made some pretty bad choices, and one of the consequences of those choices was feeling guilty. She was going to have to talk about it and she was going to have to feel bad. Once she finally agreed to discuss the whole situation, she explained to me that she knew that she’d done wrong by not putting her gift card away. All the wrong actions that followed were to cover up that mistake.

I told her clearly that lying and stealing were far worse than the original offense, and those were the choices I was truly disappointed in. Dishonesty and theft would not be tolerated. Mistakes happen and can be fixed, but lying was unacceptable.

I live what I preach. I admit my mistakes to my children. The only lie I’m guilty of is eating chocolate at work so that my girls don’t know the quantity of sugar I consume. I’m working on fixing that one. I even struggle with the mythology of Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. Those feel like lies, even if our entire community is complicit.

This is another one of those ways in which parenting gets harder. You leave behind the sleepless nights and the diapers and potty training, only to have to help your children navigate morality and peer pressure.

What would you have done in my shoes? How do you tackle lapses in honesty?

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I’m a choir geek. I started singing when I was 5, and managed to find a choir to sing in from then on. When I was pregnant with my twins, though, I just didn’t have the energy to make it through evening rehearsals, so I stopped singing. For the first few years of their lives, I was too busy to even think about singing anything other than nursery rhymes.

Tonight, I attended my first choir rehearsal in 6 years. A college friend told me about auditions, and I figured I’d give it a shot. The chorale will be performing Carmina Burana with the Las Cruces Orchestra this season. Singing again was amazing. There’s something about a group of people creating art simultaneously that is transcendent. Still, I couldn’t help feeling guilty about not being home to tuck M and J into bed. I’m sure they loved having Daddy to themselves and didn’t even think to miss me. It’s hard, though, not to feel selfish pursuing an interest that has nothing at all to do with my family.

Do you pursue any activities without your kids? Do you feel guilty too? Does the guilt pass?

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Toddlers and TV

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Categories Guilt, ToddlersTags , 26 Comments

I’ve started this post about 25 times and I just can’t get it right.

Toddlers and TV. Let's be honest. Some of us let our toddlers have TV access, but we feel so guilty about it! From

When you get right down to it, here’s my problem. I’m suffering Parental Guilt about the fact that I let my toddlers watch TV.

TV was one of those things that I was a little *ahem* high and mighty about when Maddie and Riley were born. Oh, no, my kids weren’t going to watch TV! Baby Einstein is for the weak! No licensed characters in my home! Blah blah blah. Well, yeah. From the age of a year or so on, they watched an occasional video, but without much interest. It would hold their attention for ten minutes or so, then they were on to other things. I was so proud. They didn’t even like TV! Then, around when Maddie and Riley turned two, I decided that we should try to have Family Movie Night on Fridays. We get pizza and make popcorn and I put in one of the many videos they have received as gifts from family and friends.

At first, it was as it had always been: ten minutes of interest, then off to other things. But then we found Dora, the Explorer. Maddie and Riley adore Dora. And Diego. And Boots. And Swiper (“No swiping!) Soon, Friday Movie Night had become Friday Plus Any Rainy Day, then Friday Plus Rainy Days Plus Days Any Household Member Shows Vague Signs of Crankiness. Lately, our house has been a Dora zone on any day that ends in “day.” I’m trying not to feel bad, but I’m obviously failing.

Frankly, it’s not so much the TV watching that bothers me. I’m worried about where the TV watching will lead. M&R are starting to recognize licensed characters on products in the store. Now they want the Elmo crackers and the Dora toothbrush. I still don’t let them watch commercial TV, so they begging for toys they see on ads has yet to commence. I know I can’t shield them from this stuff forever, but I’m not holding off as long as I could or as I had planned.

I also have some guilt around the fact that I really enjoy tucking in on the couch and watching a video with Maddie and Riley. I usually put the video on after the kids have their pajamas on, and we’ll all get under the blankie on the sofa and answer Dora and Diego’s questions, implore Swiper not to swipe, and reach out to catch the Three Kings Cake that Dora dropped. Sometimes we’ll share a snack (Ack! Eating in front of TV! Another can of worms!) It’s peaceful and cozy and fun for all of us. Why do I feel bad about that?

Do you let your kids watch TV? How much? What shows? Do you feel bad about it? I know there’s plenty of debate and writing on this already, but it’s on my mind a lot lately and I feel a need to beat the proverbial dead horse. Humor me.

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