Deception: The Adult Default

Why do people feel the need to lie to their kids so much? That’s what most struck me about this piece. My parents lied to me all the time — I always caught them and it made me extremely angry every time.

Luke and Lucy crawled into my lap. Henry looked afraid. Theo asked what happened.

“Her heart stopped working,” I said. It was true, it did stop working. We would tell Henry and Theo the rest later, in private.

When I was six years old and my friend Aubrey explained to me how her mom died in detail, I didn’t think much of it. That she knew the particulars (even the word “aneurysm”) was just a fact of life. But as I got older I respected her father and her aunt so very much for telling Aubrey when she was only five exactly how her mother died. It helped her grieve, to understand, and to heal. It gave her a story based in reality to build another life from that wouldn’t be destroyed later as she realized all the adults around her had deceived her.

Most kids understand much, much more than adults believe, and get extremely furious and indignant when you lie to them, even if they never show you that face. And trust me, kids almost always know when you lie to them.