Though we haven't done it perfectly, Brad and I committed early in our parenting years to tell the truth. We tell the truth to our kids because we believe it is an investment. An investment into our relationship with our kids and most importantly: our character before God. We have found (and find it increasingly difficult) that telling your kids the truth is counter-cultural in the most extravagant of ways. Here's what I mean - take a look at these common examples:
- Santa Claus & the Tooth Fairy. (Leading our children to believe in something that isn't real.)
- The bug (or fish or hamster) is 'sleeping'. (Altering the truth to "protect" our kids from the topic of death.)
- Fairy tales & stories that include magic, spells, etc. (Have you watch any recent episodes of Dora the Explorer lately?)
- Letting our kids believe they are "good." (God says there is no one good, Romans 3:10)
Kids think and absorb in concrete details. If they see repeated images, stories, and characters, they can't distinguish between fact & fiction. For example, my kids have recently asked "Will that tiger talk?" when we go to the zoo. They see a show that portrays a cartoon tiger talking and they assume tigers can talk. Leading up to Easter, Zoë and I were talking about Jesus coming alive after dying on the cross and she said "The angel came and made a spell to make Him come alive." Oh boy. She is processing the difference between miracles and magic. (P.S. Both exist and there's a big difference.)
We don't let our kids believe that Santa is real because I want them to believe me when I talk about Jesus. (He is the well-lit way.) I don't avoid death conversations because they must understand the truth about life AND death from me, not from a false source. And the more I convince my kids that they are "good," they less they will understand their great need for a Savior King.
Aside from these tangible reasons that will help our children grow with healthy perspectives and never have to question what Mom & Dad say, I've place a VERY high value on my integrity. My integrity is not worth the value of a white lie, so I refuse to sell it for such little cost. It's not worth the fun of Santa or the Tooth Fairy, so I refuse to compromise.
It's hard to tell the truth. I mean, it would be so much easier to go with the flow when it comes to holidays and their respective characters. It would be simpler to say "the fish is going to wake up" than talk about the complicated process of death. And it would be so much more fun to watch all the cartoons and movies that are geared toward my preschoolers. Don't get me wrong, we have failed when it's inconvenient. But something inside of me believes that there is going to come a moment when my children will decide if they believe me and it.will.matter. It will be more important than Santa and his fluffy white beard. It will be when they test the concrete brick support of my commitment to them and the faith that sustains their family. Every sacrifice will seem like pennies compared to the vast richness of Truth's treasure. Truth will be the fabric that covers my children, my husband, and our legacy.