PDA

View Full Version : Telling a child the truth.


Seуmour
August 4th, 2011, 03:22 AM
During my upbringing, I had a few complaints about the way my parents raised me, but I liked their handling of information. They did not give me a philosophical or ideological agenda, they simply answered the questions I asked, without restricting me from any information.

The general question is; how much children be told the truth? Is it ever the right thing to lie to a child? Is it right thing to withhold the truth from a child, without outright lying? Should the information a child can access on its own be restricted? Is there a specific age for a child to hear the truth or be able to fathom it?

I'm going to make the radical proposal that a child should receive any and all information that it inquires for, as accurately as it can be done. Keeping the absolute truth or portion of the truth from a child will leave them vulnerable and naive to the harshness and unfairness of the real world.

Cassino
August 4th, 2011, 03:56 AM
I'm going to make the radical proposal that a child should receive any and all information that it inquires for, as accurately as it can be done. Keeping the absolute truth or portion of the truth from a child will leave them vulnerable and naive to the harshness and unfairness of the real world.
I concur. The only reason we give silly analogies and lies to children is so they can 'understand things better'; this is even done by schools. I asked a lot of questions as a child, and didn't tend to get good (if any) answers from people, but did from books that went at length to explain things. I don't believe there are any specific age-ranges for intellectual comprehension of anything, so nothing should be hidden outright, but understanding of the universe still has to be built up properly or more advanced concepts won't make sense. Making an analogy or the like can help during the explanation of something, but shouldn't be left as the explanation itelf. If there are things people are uncomfortable discussing or with children knowing, then they should simply not be informed, not lied to.

Esper
August 4th, 2011, 08:50 AM
Some things are a little too complex for young children (how do you explain terrorism to a 7-year-old?), but overall though I lean toward telling kids the truth and not hiding things from them. I don't like the idea which says that kids are stupid. You don't need to have the same education and experience as an adult to be told most things.

But then it's the most important things that usually don't get told, like why the pet bird stopped moving. I've read that until around age 7 kids don't really understand the concept of death purely based on their development up to that point. I don't know how many could be told who would really understand it and I don't know what the consequences (if any) there would be for the ones who didn't.

Oryx
August 4th, 2011, 09:26 AM
I could say that I want to tell my child the truth for most things but that wouldn't answer the underlying question of this thread - the question of telling the truth for the things most parents lie about.

Children aren't always kept from information because they can't understand it. As a child, you have a very innocent point of view on life. When you start to learn about death, people being truly evil for no reason, how horrible life can be, that mindset is often shattered. I see absolutely no reason to shatter that mindset at 4 years old because a child asked a question without knowing that the answer is something that could change his life. I would say that 6 or 7 years old would be around the appropriate age to start introducing complicated topics such as death, or allowing them to be introduced, depending on the maturity of the child.

This also raises the question of Santa Claus. That's a lie told by parents to give children a sense of magic in life, and tbh partly because everyone else does it. I honestly don't see any reason to perpetuate that story, but I probably will anyway. I mean, I've never heard of someone being actively hurt by being told that Santa Claus existed for the first part of their life, and I know kids. The second I learned that he wasn't real, the first thing I did? Tried to share my newfound knowledge with younger children, upsetting them and getting in trouble. Once my child is old enough to understand that other kids believe something they know isn't true, their first thought will be to tell them the truth if they're anything like me, which is certainly not how parents want children to learn about that.

As far as restricting information from children goes, I don't think I'd actively take any age-appropriate learning materials from my child, but I wouldn't just let them run free in a library and pick out any book with a pretty cover at 6 years old because they just learned to read and want to read Stephen King or V.C. Andrews because they have pretty covers.

This actually comes from personal experience; I learned some things way before I should have due to things that happened in my life, and although I can't blame my mother for it, I do regret my life changing like that when I was so young and unable to really grasp the implications of what I was being told.

Mr. X
August 4th, 2011, 09:37 AM
My parents always told me the truth, no matter how bad it was.

I turned out just fine... At least, thats what the voices in my head are telling me.

deoxys121
August 4th, 2011, 10:08 AM
Telling children the full truth about everything is a touchy subject. There are a few things that are OK if they ask, such as deaths of family members, it's important that you tell them exactly what happened, why it happened, and try to be an optimist in the situation for the sake of the child.

There is another subject, however, that is much more controversial. If a 5-year-old asks you "Where do babies come from?" it's hard, at least for me, to tell them the full truth about sex. Quite simply, they won't fully understand at that age, because I would assume at that age that they don't know about the opposite gender's genitalia.

Also, it can be very hard for a parent to tell their child that they don't have enough money for certain things. Parents want to be able to give everything they can to their children, so it's very difficult to tell them that you don't have the money. Parents very often go without so their children can have more. I know this because my mother has done so on several occasions when I was younger. This can be avoided, however, by attempting very early on to explain to the child in a way that they will understand that you will try to get them what you can, but there will be times where you can't.

Bela
August 4th, 2011, 10:23 AM
During my upbringing, I had a few complaints about the way my parents raised me, but I liked their handling of information. They did not give me a philosophical or ideological agenda, they simply answered the questions I asked, without restricting me from any information.

The general question is; how much children be told the truth? Is it ever the right thing to lie to a child? Is it right thing to withhold the truth from a child, without outright lying? Should the information a child can access on its own be restricted? Is there a specific age for a child to hear the truth or be able to fathom it?

I'm going to make the radical proposal that a child should receive any and all information that it inquires for, as accurately as it can be done. Keeping the absolute truth or portion of the truth from a child will leave them vulnerable and naive to the harshness and unfairness of the real world.
I love you for writing this and completely agree.

Attempts to suppress information on the notion that the child can't understand is an arrogant presumption that is not tested, so long as the information is not imparted.

BlooMilk C.
August 4th, 2011, 10:41 AM
I find it unnecessary to lie to children; there isn't really anything that they can't handle by the time that they're 6 or 7. If you think that your child woud be unable to hande such information, you can prepare them for this, rather than feeding them false information, like, as Bela said, on the notion that the child won't understand.

Gold warehouse
August 4th, 2011, 12:58 PM
In theory, yes it would be nice to be able to tell children the truth about everything.

In practice, you can't really predict how any child will react to information. Every child is different, some need to be raised differently to others. Some can handle certain subjects at a very young age, some still can't handle it when they're much older.

Although I do agree that children shouldn't be lied to. I think children should be raised on knowledge and logic rather than made up stories and fantasies; but some things may need to be taught in a restricted way, or not taught at all until they're older, it all depends on the individual.

Although trying to hide important subjects from children for too long never works; they will either find out themselves, or hear something from other kids, which is usually a distorted version from the truth.

Lying to them or sugar-coating a subject too much is essentially just raising a child to be ignorant.

TRIFORCE89
August 4th, 2011, 03:00 PM
If there's something a child needs to know, I don't see what's wrong with explaining it in a more "child friendly" manner.

I also don't think children have to be aware of everything little thing under sun. I'll be watching the news, and maybe some event happened on some street (arrest, murder, injury, accident). The reporter or correspondent will ask a random parent on the street, "How will you explain this to you child? What will you tell them?". Their kid is like two. They have a happy life, why would I have to tell them about what happened to someone down the street who they have never met before?

Anders
August 4th, 2011, 03:45 PM
If there's something a child needs to know, I don't see what's wrong with explaining it in a more "child friendly" manner.

Yeah that's the best way to do it. Not necessarily lying to them, but tell it to them in a way that isn't too much for them to handle.

If my kid asks me something I'm going to tell them the truth about it, and I'm not going to go out of my way to censor what they see or hear. If they ask what sex is I'll say it's when two people make love to each other. I won't say "It's when you stick your penis in a vagina". If they asked where babies come from I would say it comes from a woman's womb or stomach, a term they would understand better.

I don't particularly worry about a kids innocence being taken away by answering an inquiry, I don't think it works like that. When I was a child I knew people died but it was just something I didn't care about because I was young and didn't understand the finality of it, and even if somebody described it as being the end, I don't think my world would have shattered around me.

TRIFORCE89
August 4th, 2011, 03:48 PM
I don't particularly worry about a kids innocence being taken away by answering an inquiry, I don't think it works like that. When I was a child I knew people died but it was just something I didn't care about because I was young and didn't understand the finality of it, and even if somebody described it as being the end, I don't think my world would have shattered around me.
Well, with my news reporter story... I meant more like... the kid wouldn't be aware that something happened unless you specifically told them. So, why do it in the first place?

If some guy down the street got violently murdered... My child does not know this happened or know the person it happened to. I don't have to tell them about it, there's no reason to. If they ask, they again, I'd give an explanation in a child-friendly manner.

Anders
August 4th, 2011, 03:51 PM
Well, with my news reporter story... I meant more like... the kid wouldn't be aware that something happened unless you specifically told them. So, why do it in the first place?

If some guy down the street got violently murdered... My child does not know this happened or know the person it happened to. I don't have to tell them about it, there's no reason to. If they ask, they again, I'd give an explanation in a child-friendly manner.

I never said that I would go out of my to tell them? I didn't even respond to that part of your post.

TRIFORCE89
August 4th, 2011, 03:53 PM
I never said that I would go out of my to tell them? I didn't even respond to that part of your post.
Oh. lol I thought the part I quoted was related to that. Disregard then :X Oops.

Anders
August 4th, 2011, 03:54 PM
Haha it's okay, I was just like 'that's not what i meant ;-;'. xD

Kylie-chan
August 4th, 2011, 05:30 PM
Everyone deserves the truth, even children.

However, I think things like Santa are probably harmless. I never believed in Santa, but the kids I knew who did definitely felt things were more 'magical' than them. If they ask if Santa is real, just tell them he isn't -- if they're questioning, then you should give them the truth. As for things like sex, try to explain in an age-appropriate manner where possible. I don't think it's damaging to know where babies come from at a young age; to be honest, my parents didn't tell me, but I found out from a) the dictionary b) the other kids in first grade and kindergarten. I don't think my parents should've handed me the Kama Sutra, but they basically outlawed talking about sex, which of course meant I just went looking for the information at school and other places where I wasn't under my parents' jurisdiction.

I think a lot of the reason behind parental lies is because sometimes it's just hard to know how to tell the truth -- which doesn't make it right to lie.

twocows
August 4th, 2011, 06:01 PM
It ought to be up to the parents. I don't think there's a significant problem with either approach.

marz
August 4th, 2011, 06:35 PM
I'm going to make the radical proposal that a child should receive any and all information that it inquires for, as accurately as it can be done. Keeping the absolute truth or portion of the truth from a child will leave them vulnerable and naive to the harshness and unfairness of the real world.

I can see where you're coming from, but you sound almost like a machine here. You sound like you're the kid's computer. I think there is a reason to preserve a child's innocence, for example, at least until they get old enough to find it out themselves on a real computer.

Now I'm curious. Does that mean you will not tell them something that isn't true? So would you or would you not tell them of childhood tales like santa claus or the tooth fairy?

Melody
August 4th, 2011, 06:45 PM
Well, I agree. Parents should always tell the truth. If they're uncomfortable or unwilling to tell the truth then they should tell them simply, "YOU ARE NOT OLD ENOUGH TO ASK THIS QUESTION OR KNOW IT'S ANSWER, AND IF YOU GO LOOKING ON YOUR OWN FOR IT YOU ARE SO DEAD!"

Either have the decency to flat out DENY AND FORBID them the answer until a later age or TELL THE TRUTH!

I don't deny the parent's right to teach their child about certain things when THEY think the child should know...but lies are stupid.

Lance
August 4th, 2011, 07:00 PM
I can see where you're coming from, but you sound almost like a machine here. You sound like you're the kid's computer. I think there is a reason to preserve a child's innocence, for example, at least until they get old enough to find it out themselves on a real computer.

Now I'm curious. Does that mean you will not tell them something that isn't true? So would you or would you not tell them of childhood tales like santa claus or the tooth fairy?

That.

Good parents will know when and what to tell their children. Children need that time of innocence and that carefree world view for a time. Then, a good parent gradually reveals more and more of how the world works. Growing up is a transition, you don't pile things on. It's supposed to be gradual.

Patriсk
August 5th, 2011, 03:20 AM
Keeping some knowledge from a child until certain ages have been reached is a way in which they can be prepared for the 'harshness and unfairness' of the real world gently, and therefore responsibly. To allow them unrestricted access to any and all information whatever their age borders on recklessness.

Guy
August 5th, 2011, 03:58 AM
Kids deserve the truth, even if it's just an impartial piece of the truth. A good parent will know what to say and how much of the truth to tell their kids. The way I see it, it's better a child learns the truth from their parents rather than an outside source. Not all kids will understand something enough, and in some cases, may take it the wrong way than it's original intentions. That's why I see it beneficial that a parent should tell their kids the truth, even if it's not the entire truth or the whole story.

There are some things I believe parents have good reasons to keep away from their children, but rather than lie, I think it better to explain to them that they're too young to know about it now, but maybe when they're a bit older.

As for childhood stories like the Tooth Fairy, Santa Clause and so on, that's harmless. That's what gives kids their imagination. Something to hold on to; to believe in. Having a little magic in everyone's childhood is very healthy.

Melody
August 5th, 2011, 05:59 AM
I vehemently disagree. It's not reckless, nor stupid or the wrong thing to do. It really varies greatly from child to child. Smarter children ARE better off being told earlier, lest they go out and find it for themselves. Slower children, don't need to know until you're sure they've caught up...it's not because they're stupid or anything, you just want to make sure they're ready for that reality

BUT, despite that, it DOES NOT excuse a lie. A wise parent knows how to explain to the child that it's not the right time for that discussion.

Guy
August 5th, 2011, 07:01 AM
I vehemently disagree. It's not reckless, nor stupid or the wrong thing to do. It really varies greatly from child to child. Smarter children ARE better off being told earlier, lest they go out and find it for themselves. Slower children, don't need to know until you're sure they've caught up...it's not because they're stupid or anything, you just want to make sure they're ready for that reality

BUT, despite that, it DOES NOT excuse a lie. A wise parent knows how to explain to the child that it's not the right time for that discussion.
I know that the level of understanding varies from child to child. That's exactly why I said not all kids will be able to understand, meaning some can. That also goes hand in hand with a good parent knowing what to say and how much to say to their child. Each child is different, each family household works differently, therefore, I don't expect it all to be handled the same way. One parent may think their child isn't mature or ready enough to know what may be going on, while other parents do. It's really a case-by-case issue if you want to look at it that way.

...and again, I agree, it's better a parent not lie to their kids. If I had my own kids, I wouldn't want to lie to them (though, I'm not saying there won't be a time that happens. I think that's inevitable for anyone). I'd much rather explain to them that they're either not ready to know what's going on, or if I think they can handle it, I'll explain to them some things that are happening (the truth) in their own terms so they can understand.

Captain Fabio
August 5th, 2011, 08:56 AM
In theory, yes it would be nice to be able to tell children the truth about everything.

In practice, you can't really predict how any child will react to information. Every child is different, some need to be raised differently to others. Some can handle certain subjects at a very young age, some still can't handle it when they're much older.

This is pretty much my view on the matter.
It would be nice to tell a child everything in truth but at times, it might be better not to.

twocows
August 5th, 2011, 04:18 PM
Well, I agree. Parents should always tell the truth. If they're uncomfortable or unwilling to tell the truth then they should tell them simply, "YOU ARE NOT OLD ENOUGH TO ASK THIS QUESTION OR KNOW IT'S ANSWER, AND IF YOU GO LOOKING ON YOUR OWN FOR IT YOU ARE SO DEAD!"

Either have the decency to flat out DENY AND FORBID them the answer until a later age or TELL THE TRUTH!

I don't deny the parent's right to teach their child about certain things when THEY think the child should know...but lies are stupid.
Discouraging natural curiosity sets a horrible precedent for children.

Katholic Nun
August 5th, 2011, 05:07 PM
I think children are unnecessarily coddled and not told about things that they could probably handle. However to give a fresh perspective on this debate, I do think we should preserve their innocence somewhat, because children who know things like this are so obnoxious. It makes them feel more mature than they are and it gives them this annoying sense of confidence in their 'adulthood' that makes you want to slap them.

That said, when I found out Santa wasn't real, I wasn't upset by it in the slightest. I still love Christmas now as much as I ever did. Knowing that Santa wasn't real didn't change anything - the decorations were just as pretty, the presents were just as good, the family dinners were just as lively. Christmas was still incredibly enjoyable and it didn't ruin the magic of it one bit. So I think people often underestimate what children can handle.

keoni
August 6th, 2011, 07:56 AM
From at least the way I was brought up, I believe that children should be held back on certain information. Such as if they're a bastard (yes, that is a term used for people without a father/parent(?) ), then I feel you deserve the right to tell them until you feel they can handle the information about said parent... But honestly.... That is the ONLY thing I feel a child should be held back from information from... If they ask where babies come from, I'll explain... Sure not maybe in graphic detail with a chart and all, but I'd give them the gist of it. If they ask about "Santa," I'd tell him that he isn't real... But for the sake of others, I would tell him/her that they shouldn't got around telling this to others... Let the magic of something like that reside in the other small children... When it comes to religion, I'd let him/her choose their own, but if they find one that they like and become a member of, then I would tell them that I will not stand to have an attempt to convert me. I'd teach them to respect others beliefs, and that no, the world isn't perfect, but you need to make the best you goddamn can.