Just how much do you tell your kid(s) the truth? Pick one: A- All of the time, B- Most of the time, C- Some of the time, D- Not often? Do you err on the side of caution and tell them just what they need to know or do you give it all up and wait for the aftermath? In my casual polls of both moms and dads, it has come down to a few key pieces. The topic, age of your kid(s), how they typically handle things, and how much you believe they can handle are all important factors. Honestly, a big part of me always wants to go with telling my son the truth all of the time simply because I don’t like to be lied to (and not being told the whole story) and I really don’t tell lies well anyway. But, as a parent I have had to become creative and, at times, supplement the truth for “alternative facts” when I am not ready to tell my 5-year old something. In case you’re wondering why I am even writing about telling a pre-kindergartener the truth- it’s because, as with any little kid, he asks a ton of questions about everything and I have been faced with the reality of a kid who thinks abstractly and wonders a lot.
So, the whole truth huh? If you do decide to tell your mini-me(s) the whole truth and nothing short of it, let me know how that goes! In the meantime, here are some of my thoughts.
Is Omission Really Lying? This is something all parents have a different perspective on and it’s shaped by how we were parented. Think about it- did your folks leave big chunks out of stories or did they tell you everything? Working with students on a daily basis, I’ve seen the effects of both sides for good and bad. Let’s face it, telling a child all of the details can be detrimental. Even adult children may not be able to handle the whole truth and it could open up a whole can of worms (and maybe whoop *ss)! So there may be times you want to leave out a few of the details to spare them and yourself.
The truth about sex? It really hit me that Tre’s knowledge about sex has most recently come from Bruno Mars! Yup. Sing along, “…Lucky for you, that’s what I like, that’s what I like. Lucky for you, that’s what I like, that’s what I like. Sex by the fire at night. Silk sheets and diamonds all white…” Now that you’ve chair danced and shoulder rolled, think about my angst when he is belting out those last lines confidently! Yikes. Trust and believe that I have been asked, “Mommy what’s sex?” and “Where do babies come from?” Think I told the truth? (Insert my side eye here). As much as I like the truth and all, I pretended like I didn’t hear him and changed the radio station. I know I only have a short amount of time before his understanding of what sex is will be compromised by what his friends think is true. Talking with moms and dads of pre-teens and full fledged teenagers, most of them have been extremely honest about the joys and dangers about physical intimacy. I appreciate them sharing with me what they have said and how they handle conversations with their kids about sex. Whew…I’m definitely not ready for this one. Coming from a household where my only ‘sex talk’ was my father telling me that he would go to jail if I got pregnant, there was a LOT that was left out and left up to me to figure out. However the hubs and I decide we’ll tackle the ‘sex talk,’ my plan is to share appropriate truths with Tre and not just go along with what he hears in songs.
The truth about death? We are “Sunday-go-to-meeting” folks in my household, so the concepts of birth and death are based in and on our beliefs. Tre has attended two significant funerals and it was our decision to have him present for a reason. When my grandmother (aka Sweetie Pie) started to decline from the effects of cancer, Tre was there to spend time with her in her final days and when she transitioned in 2014 he was right there to see her off. He was younger and didn’t fully know what was going on, but he was aware that she was no longer going to hold him or sing to him and he wanted to know why. The second homegoing he attended was for my husband’s dear uncle. Unlike my grandmother who lived out-of-state, Uncle Hansel was someone we spent time with and saw on a regular basis. This transition had a different effect on Tre because he was a little older and he could wrap his brain around death a little better so questioned we entertained were, “Why did Uncle Hansel die, where did his body go, what is going to happen to his car, am I going to die too?” So what did we do? We answered (and still answer) his questions and that takes us into a conversation about heaven and more. Some may not agree with our decision to expose our kid to death so early in his life; our theory is that death is a part of life and it is not something we want to keep hidden from him nor do we want to make up stories. I’m not going to lie- some of his questions come at a time when I am not ready or could be feeling hyper-sensitive about something else so I take a deep breath and choose my words carefully to convey the truth and put my feelings aside.
The truth about your ‘real’ life? I’m not ‘there’ yet, but I have some friends whose kids are older and I’ve heard stories about when they are asked about what they use to do when they were [insert a teenage age] and some of the stories are hilarious! When I was a kid I never thought about my parents being kids, teens, or bachelor/ettes in their hay day…but looking back now…they were ‘real’ people and had a life before my sister and I were in the picture! I never really asked prying questions about their lives B.K (before Krystal!) until later in life. I was able to fill in the blanks from conversations I overheard and things I wondered about what their ‘real’ lives were like. Again, I won’t have long before questions about things I use to do , places I have gone, and experiences I’ve had begin to roll in. Honestly, I don’t know how I’m going to handle these questions. I tend to be very honest with students I work with, so I’m thinking I will do the same with my kid…it just depends on what he asks…and when!
The truth about telling the truth? This has been a topic of discussion in our household lately and I think the kid pretty much understands what we expect- tell us the truth no matter what. Yeah I know he’s at the age where he doesn’t have anything to hide, but he has been faced with the option to lie to us and he hasn’t. I want to create an environment that is conducive to my kid being comfortable with telling us the truth even when it gets tough. I might be living in a fantasy world that doesn’t support kids wanting to or actually telling their parents the truth, but I am not ready to get my “gullable country a*s out the clouds!” That’s a quote from “What’s Love Got To Do With It.” 🙂
The truth about drugs, alcohol, poverty, mental health, illness, body image, gender identity, stress, and all that your mind can imagine. Whew….I’m really not ready for these topics. While Tre has not been able to properly names these terms, we have had quite a few interesting conversations about all kinds of things…and I mean all kinds of things! In our talks, I stress to him quite often that everyone’s household and family is not like his and it is important for him to be grateful for what and who he has in his life. Like I said earlier, my goal is to lead with honesty as much I can with the hope (and prayer) that no matter what the topic is, Tre will understand the truth and be able to successfully navigate all of life’s twists and turns.