“Mom, don’t you believe what I say?”
“They were all against me. It was not my fault AT ALL.”
Heard your child say this with dove-eyed innocence?
The other day, I met a mother who was having problems dealing with her fast-growing son. She was clueless about how to deal with his attention issues, anxiety and most of all, his interpersonal issues. The child would try to win his mom’s sympathy by presenting a very distorted view of what happened between his friends and teachers at school. But the mother had clearly analyzed the situation. I was really impressed with her clarity for very few parents can look at their own children in such an unbiased manner. So I asked her how deals with him when he mentions something that she knows is not true. And the mother said I tell him “I believe you”! And I was a little zapped. I asked again, so you know at an intellectual and emotional level that your child is not being truthful but you still tell him, that you believe him? She says, yes because if I don’t he might feel that I don’t believe in him.
Now, that left me appalled. Here was a perfectly capable adult who knew her little one was playing tricks to the level of manipulation but she was still putting up with it because she did not want the child to feel that she didn’t believe in him! Really, is this how we foster confidence in young ones? Is this ‘unconditional love’? Because to me this a recipe for disastrous adulthood. The child will grow up thinking that those who love me should buy into my lies and deceit. And those who don’t, don’t love me.
On discussing this with the mother, she saw through it and has been working on it since but that leaves me thinking. Why do we adults fear to be honest to our children? Since when does their validation mean so much to us that we are ready to put aside our rationality and intellect and bow into their twisted world-views? Shouldn’t we as responsible adults rather be teaching the child to be honest? Once we buy-in to what they say, we corroborate and approve their lies. A better road is to point out the lie that you can clearly see your child is speaking and tell him that while you love him, you sure are not a fool who can’t see through lies. This will compel the child to see you as a discerning adult and encourage him to come to you when they have real issues. If you have been the Yes-mom, they will see through it and may not find you capable enough of solving their real problems.
And lastly, kids who lie or manipulate are not evil. It is human nature to present a case as per one’s own world view. But it is our job to teach them to live in a society and to see things from different angles. If we keep agreeing to their views, we create echo-chambers that only resonate what they believe and at the first interaction with the opposite, they snap!
So, have you dealt with similar situations? How have you resolved it? Please share your views with me and don’t forget to subscribe to Musings of MasterNi and follow me on Instagram.