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Lying to children

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Re: Lying to children

Post by h_k_s » March 12th, 2019, 10:16 am

Lying is a form of manipulation that is simply verbal.

People lie when they want to manipulate others.

in the case of children there may be topics such as death or sex or crime that children are not ready to hear about.

As for all the traditional fantasies like Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Faerie Godmother, Tooth Faerie, Boogieman, Leprechans, etc. -- this is junk that has been handed down through the ages, like religion.

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Re: Lying to children

Post by Intellectual_Savnot » March 12th, 2019, 12:32 pm

Never lie to the intellectual. An idea held as truth to those who use truths to decide and to think is nothing but a severe affliction if it is indeed false. Just don't lie, is all.

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Re: Lying to children

Post by Intellectual_Savnot » March 12th, 2019, 12:34 pm

I must pose the question, are there really adult topics that are inappropriate for the youthful audience? Can a child be unprepared for any truth, to the extent that these truths must be censored? I believe it is certainly not so.

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Re: Lying to children

Post by Karpel Tunnel » March 12th, 2019, 12:41 pm

chewybrian wrote:
March 10th, 2019, 7:17 am
Since definitions always seem to be necessary here, let's define lying as any intentional misrepresentation,
So, for the purpose of this discussion, my assertion is that anything but full disclosure of the truth to children is a lie, and immoral, and I am asking you to prove or assert otherwise if you think this is not so. What justification do you or others have which makes this ethical behavior?
You can't fully disclose to a child - and also not to other adults, though it is easier with other adults since they have more of the experiences you have had.

I see no reason to answer with full disclosure - why are you angry at Mommy? - when the full answer would have to do with what happened when you and Mommy were making love or any other phenomena where the child simply could not understand.

I am in no obligation to start what might be a rather endless conversation, where term after term must be explained and further cannot be since the child lacks the experience.

There are many instances with adults where I do not give 'full disclosure' even to family. I have rights to boundaries, my own way of prioritizing time, to avoiding discussions that put undue burdens on me.

In many instances one need not lie, per se. One can take short cuts. 'Mommy and I are a bit frustrated with each other, this happens, we will talk about it more.' I think it is perfectly fine to say you don't want to discuss in more detail.

I don't see reading fables to children as immoral or as lying.

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Re: Lying to children

Post by Intellectual_Savnot » March 12th, 2019, 12:46 pm

@Karpel Tunnel Misrepresentation for the purpose of not providing information is a much larger crime than misrepresentation for the purpose of protection. Not wanting to explain things to a child is seriously wrong, and could result in heavy lack of growth. If your child asks a question you must answer in full honesty and description so that they might learn, or otherwise their own knowledge and intellect be damned. You don't tell an adult why you are mad with your boyfriend because they don't need to know anything. A child, however, must know anything that they can know and think at any given opportunity.

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Re: Lying to children

Post by Alias » March 12th, 2019, 9:20 pm

Intellectual_Savnot wrote:
March 12th, 2019, 12:46 pm
@Karpel Tunnel Misrepresentation for the purpose of not providing information is a much larger crime than misrepresentation for the purpose of protection. Not wanting to explain things to a child is seriously wrong, and could result in heavy lack of growth. If your child asks a question you must answer in full honesty and description so that they might learn, or otherwise their own knowledge and intellect be damned.
How old are your children, and how well has this policy worked so far?
Full disclosure, mind!
Those who can induce you to believe absurdities can induce you to commit atrocities. - Voltaire

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Re: Lying to children

Post by Alias » March 12th, 2019, 9:40 pm

Intellectual_Savnot wrote:
March 12th, 2019, 12:34 pm
I must pose the question, are there really adult topics that are inappropriate for the youthful audience? Can a child be unprepared for any truth, to the extent that these truths must be censored?
There is a difference between censorship and editing, and in the case of children that difference largely lies in the capability of the child. What you can explain quite frankly to a twelve-year-old might freak out a five-year-old and vice versa.
Anecdote: We were watching a movie that comes with the usual warning about younger audiences. My cousin's four-year-old wandered in just before a the rather gruesome climax. We were all concerned about the child having seen this... In fact, she had no idea what she had seen, so it had no affect on her. A fifteen-year-old might have had nightmares for weeks.

Children go though stages of development where they are sensitive to some kinds of input, susceptible to some kinds of influence and interested in some subject matter. But mostly, the problem is comprehension. Go ahead, translate astrophysics into a six-year-old's vocabulary. And then see if he stays put for the whole lecture.

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Re: Lying to children

Post by jonathan » March 13th, 2019, 5:10 am

h_k_s wrote:
March 12th, 2019, 10:16 am
As for all the traditional fantasies like Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Faerie Godmother, Tooth Faerie, Boogieman, Leprechans, etc. -- this is junk that has been handed down through the ages, like religion.
Brilliant defense, although the implication that all religion is junk may be controversial. Would you like to offer any support for this idea?

I might add that as we influence the morality of the children we raise, we will probably also cultivate some sort of belief of essentially the same order as religious belief: such as belief in human rights, a concept of virtue, the significance of one's actions, etc.

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Re: Lying to children

Post by chewybrian » March 13th, 2019, 9:30 am

Scott wrote:
March 12th, 2019, 10:15 am
chewybrian wrote:
March 11th, 2019, 6:52 pm

a1--We lie to children primarily to protect them. We may wish to extend their care-free time of play and wonder, for their benefit or because we don't want to see them grow up. We think some information is beyond their ability to process properly, or to use in making sound judgments. We probably don't want to give them the full story about drugs or terrorism too early on, for example. We might also tell them fables to help them learn important lessons in ways that hold their attention better and help them remember better than straight facts. Further, we tell them many lies of convenience, to save ourselves headaches or to limit their options until they are ready to handle more.

a2--The justifications are that we are acting in the child's best interests. We want to extend their childhood because we think, perhaps incorrectly, that it is the best time of their lives and the net effect of extending it is in their favor. We want to protect them from the trauma of ugly truth that might be too much for them to handle. You might tell an adult that a family member is working as a prostitute to support her drug habit, but probably would not relate this truth to a child. We justify the fables as a method to impart moral truths in a way that the child will both understand and remember. If this is true, then perhaps the trade-off of encouraging them to learn a life lesson is worth the lie. We justify the lies of convenience on the simple basis that it is just easier than having to defend the truth from our child's desires. If they don't know all the options, then they can't lobby for the all the ones we don't want them to take over what we feel is best for them.
This is not at all to undermine or disregard all of the other things you said and all of the interesting and thoughtful points you have made. However, nonetheless, I believe in the two paragraphs immediately above you have answered your own question and provided the requested counter-argument to the assertion in the OP.
Well, I did the best I could because you insisted that I try. And, I think it sums up the common arguments pretty well. But, I did not start with all this because I was only trying to create a framework for a discussion, allowing others to make their cases.

But, even though I might have laid out the common justifications people give, that does not mean that I agree with them. Actually, I think there are many unintended consequences of our possibly well-intended lies, as well as the lies we tell kids out of laziness or selfishness, and that is what I am trying to get at here. Evidently, there is not a lot of strong research into this issue that gives clear guidance about what is best in any situation. My primary resource is always stoic philosophy, which says this:
Men are disturbed, not by things, but by the principles and notions which they form concerning things. Death, for instance, is not terrible, else it would have appeared so to Socrates. But the terror consists in our notion of death that it is terrible. When therefore we are hindered, or disturbed, or grieved, let us never attribute it to others, but to ourselves; that is, to our own principles. An uninstructed person will lay the fault of his own bad condition upon others. Someone just starting instruction will lay the fault on himself. Some who is perfectly instructed will place blame neither on others nor on himself....

Let death and exile, and all other things which appear terrible be daily before your eyes, but chiefly death, and you win never entertain any abject thought, nor too eagerly covet anything.
http://classics.mit.edu/Epictetus/epicench.html

In other words, we should face up to our fears to eliminate them. And, we should teach the child to do the same, rather than running from his fears, or hoping bad things won't come their way, only to have these events hit them much harder when they do come around. We should teach fight not flight, or else they'll be running harder and faster from trouble as they grow, and harsh reality can not be avoided for long. The strategies of denial they might ultimately use, like drugs, or even religion, arguably cause more harm than good.

If we tell the child the dog went to dog heaven, or to live on a farm up state, we are in effect telling them that the strategy to employ against unpleasant truth is fear and denial. They will figure out the truth for themselves soon enough, and then they may have problems they did not need to have if we have lied to them. They may mistrust us, or learn that lying is acceptable, or try to avoid trouble rather than facing it. If they learn denial is the proper strategy for losing the dog, then they would probably use denial in other situations, like using drugs in place of facing depression or anxiety head on.

Situations seldom cause fear on their own, but rather we decide they are frightening and create the fear ourselves. If children learn this, they will be stronger when they grow up. This is my first reason for thinking we should tell children the truth whenever possible. Here are some of the others I was referencing earlier:
When a child knows the truth and when his parents contradict this knowledge, the child ends up doubting himself. Healthy children learn to trust their inner sense of right and wrong at a young age because their parents encourage this. This teaches the child that he is a reliable source of accurate information and a capable resource for the truth. When a child is told that his truth is a lie, his self-doubt generalizes to a distrust of the outside world. Children will begin to act out in response to the contradiction they are being told; what they know is true, is untrue...

When kids fill in the blanks often their guesses are so much worse than dealing with the truth.

The reality is that children can deal with almost any disappointment if provided parental support. It works the other way as well whereby if children are repeatedly lied to by parents they begin to doubt and distrust even the simplest realities.
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog ... arents-lie
...result is that the children aged 5 to 7 were more likely to lie about peeking if the experimenter had earlier lied to them (approximately 88 per cent of the lied-to older children lied, compared with 65 per cent of those who weren’t lied to).
https://digest.bps.org.uk/2014/11/10/wh ... qus_thread
Those little lies can cause big harm, she said.

“Kids globalize and say, ‘My parent is a liar. Are they also lying about loving me?’ The security system of the child is undermined. Kids need a lot of stability,” Schafer said. “We’re modeling that lying is acceptable.”...

The same goes for other hard topics, such as the death of a pet. Experts say you’re not doing your kids any favors by saying kitty is sleeping or went to the vet when she actually died. Kids can handle the death of a pet if you explain the cycle of life in a compassionate and accurate way. Families can honor kitty by having a funeral or ceremony acknowledging the pet’s life and place in the family.

This will help them begin to understand death, something everyone must deal with at some point.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyl ... 1ec84c2774

I suppose most of us might agree it is wrong to lie to the child for selfish or lazy reasons, yet many might hold on to the idea of benevolent lies as a way of protecting the child. But, I think we underestimate their ability to discern and to handle the truth. I think the truth is liberating and healthy for them to know in almost every case, and will make them stronger. If we shoot straight with them, they should be more likely to respect the truth themselves, and develop healthier ways of dealing with their own problems when we are not there for them. They will have less total fear in their life if they face each fear as it comes, learn the truth of the situation and their ability to change it, or need to accept it.
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

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Re: Lying to children

Post by Alias » March 13th, 2019, 2:02 pm

I suppose most of us might agree it is wrong to lie to the child for selfish or lazy reasons, yet many might hold on to the idea of benevolent lies as a way of protecting the child. But, I think we underestimate their ability to discern and to handle the truth.
We also underestimate their their ability to handle the social aspects of lying.
Children don't believe you love them because you say so: they can feel love without the words and the lack of love in spite of the words, however oft repeated.
Children begin to lie quite early - age three or four. They know exactly why they're doing it, and can perfectly understand another person's motivations when they discover that they've been told something simple when the truth is complicated; when they've been given inaccurate or incomplete information; when they're fobbed off with a convenient short-cut - and when something they asked about is simply none of their business.
Many lies adults tell children could be avoided by saying, "You don't have a right to know that." instead of "You'll understand when you're older." or "I don't know that." instead of a story.
Children are social animals; they pick up the dynamics of social situations as they grow.

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Re: Lying to children

Post by h_k_s » March 13th, 2019, 6:34 pm

jonathan wrote:
March 13th, 2019, 5:10 am
h_k_s wrote:
March 12th, 2019, 10:16 am
As for all the traditional fantasies like Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Faerie Godmother, Tooth Faerie, Boogieman, Leprechans, etc. -- this is junk that has been handed down through the ages, like religion.
Brilliant defense, although the implication that all religion is junk may be controversial. Would you like to offer any support for this idea?

I might add that as we influence the morality of the children we raise, we will probably also cultivate some sort of belief of essentially the same order as religious belief: such as belief in human rights, a concept of virtue, the significance of one's actions, etc.
Great!

Brainwash the kids!

I suppose this is a case of the ends justifying the means.

That's pure sophism.

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Re: Lying to children

Post by Alias » March 13th, 2019, 7:29 pm

h_k_s wrote:
March 13th, 2019, 6:34 pm

Brainwash the kids!

I suppose this is a case of the ends justifying the means.
It's neither. All animals raise their young with the purpose of helping them survive as long as possible, and thrive as well as possible.
Social systems require social adaptation, and teaching that is a major part of a parent's duty. If a certain form of worship is important in the culture wherein they live, she'll indoctrinate her offspring in that worship, whether she believes it or not. Simply: she doesn't want them killed as heretics. If a parent believes fervently in a deity that's unpopular in his culture, he'll try to indoctrinate his children in the "correct" canon, because he's more concerned about their spiritual survival than their worldly success.

You do what you feel you have to, for their own good, as you perceive their good.

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Re: Lying to children

Post by jonathan » March 13th, 2019, 11:21 pm

h_k_s wrote:
March 13th, 2019, 6:34 pm
jonathan wrote:
March 13th, 2019, 5:10 am


Brilliant defense, although the implication that all religion is junk may be controversial. Would you like to offer any support for this idea?

I might add that as we influence the morality of the children we raise, we will probably also cultivate some sort of belief of essentially the same order as religious belief: such as belief in human rights, a concept of virtue, the significance of one's actions, etc.
Great!

Brainwash the kids!

I suppose this is a case of the ends justifying the means.

That's pure sophism.
You haven’t offered any support for the claim I initially took issue with (that religion is junk) or addressed the point I offered as a potential hurdle in your doing so. Instead, you’ve merely offered two new ambiguous claims.

By “brainwash(ing)” it’s unclear whether you mean cultivating religious beliefs in particular or cultivating moral beliefs in general; either way, you’ve introduced a new claim — that one of these is tantamount to brainwashing — which now demands additional support. Furthermore, your comment about ends justifying means seems to imply that a parent need not have recourse to, nor the child need be inculcated with, beliefs of this order (whether religious or not is, again, unclear): another claim, in need of yet more justification, and which raises the question whether you think this to be the case because (1) you think there is a way to provide moral instruction to a child without instilling moral beliefs in him or (2) you think moral instruction to be avoidable altogether when raising a child.

Loaded language and exclamation points do not an argument make. Who’s the sophist here? Try again.

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Re: Lying to children

Post by Karpel Tunnel » March 14th, 2019, 2:44 am

Intellectual_Savnot wrote:
March 12th, 2019, 12:46 pm
@Karpel Tunnel Misrepresentation for the purpose of not providing information is a much larger crime than misrepresentation for the purpose of protection. Not wanting to explain things to a child is seriously wrong, and could result in heavy lack of growth. If your child asks a question you must answer in full honesty and description so that they might learn, or otherwise their own knowledge and intellect be damned. You don't tell an adult why you are mad with your boyfriend because they don't need to know anything. A child, however, must know anything that they can know and think at any given opportunity.
Sorry I'm not telling my son that my wife doesn't take enough caution with her teeth when going down on me and that's why daddy was a bit upset over dinner. It's not his business. Though on the other hand I am quite open about sex in a general way with my children. But again fitting the level of the childs maturity and ability to understand. If I ask my dad who is a neurophysiologist how he's doing, I don't want a lecture about neurotransmitters that i can't understand.

And none of this stops the child from learnign the whole time.

Think of the poor kid of a philosopher who after asking when will the bus come gets a six hour lecture including relativity theory and its critics and then a wander through Zeno to the present about time. Sure, a philosopher should share their love of such things some times, but not others,a nd also fit to the childs mind. Or do you want her staying home from work and not letting the kid go to daycare so she can answer the quesiton completely?

When do we start? Preverbal?

There are billions of things that kids are learning and can learn. To actually respond to some things as fully as I possibly could, triangulating my way toward a full truth, but never reaching it, would take the rest of my life as I come to understand more about myself. And then I never tell the kind to step back off the curb cause that car is coming.

We make choices

between things to talk about and do
between answers that are way too hard, just right, too simple

I don't answer adults with full disclosure
I answer adults dependent on their needs, my time, our degree of closeness, my sense of their interest, my sense of their knowledge base....and so on.
But suddenly with kids I must answer like I am a wikipedia bot.

That is cruel to me and them.

And I am a very candid person with less taboos than most people. And this includes emotions not just being a walking encyclopedia for my children.

IMagine if teachers did this. Instead of meeting children where they always, always, responded as if the kids were at college level knowledge and if not, then the teachers worked on getting them there now. Some kids in the class can't multiply double digit numbers yet, but Timmy asked about something that would require calculus knowledge to answer, so the whole class spent a week while Timmy failed to grasp this.

And by the way...as a teacher I really believe in allowing interest to lead learning and am on the extreme end of progressive child centered eduction philosophy. But this doesn't mean I am controlled in all my future behavior by children's questions. They can pursue knowledge and will on their own with support.

Adults are not information spewing robots with a prime directive requiring complete answers.
Anyone who thinks this a good for children has never taught children and that includes has never parented them.

If they had they would know that you have to tailor suit your responses to everyone's needs and abilities in that moment. And it is complicated and not always easy to find the right balance. Of course this could be abused to keeep people from learning some things they need and deserve to know, now. But it is unavoidable that one makes choices, choices made out of respect for the child, yourself, other obligations, reality, time, other children, other adults and more.

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Re: Lying to children

Post by Intellectual_Savnot » March 14th, 2019, 12:29 pm

No I don't have kids I am fifteen

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