“I am honest and I speak my mind, why then, does my child lie?” asked a parent.                                 Why doesn’t this honesty pass down to the kid? Why do kids lie, when truthful is just the way we are and the way we want them to be.

Honesty is in vogue, alright. Loud opinions are fashionable. We can almost “see” each other’s thoughts and feelings thanks to the wonderful digital space available to us.

Our views on everything are very definitely stated, be it political matters, neighbourhood brashness, uncivil behaviour, road rage, garbage dumps; to kids and their upbringing, schools and teachers; relationships at home and at work. And why not, after all we are the privileged democratic lot.

“Honest” opinions are accompanied by pretentious behaviour.

Pretense happens when we wish to be that somebody we aren’t, so we derive pleasure by pretending to be them; it is a bit like an act…a performance, a very private one though! It could take on various forms…pretending to be a heart of gold with caramel flavoured words flowing out of our strangling gut; pretending to be richer (monetarily) than you are; pretending to be particular about dressing, designer labels and brands; pretending to love that wine you are sipping, whose smell you can’t stand and your mind is wondering about why on earth can you not have that coke, which costs nothing as compared to this poison! Pretense could be to do with being intellectually inclined and greatly enjoying deep inspirational conversations; it could be about pretending to be that great wife or husband, the all sacrificing mother or father, the most accommodating daughter in law/son in law, or the most hardworking person in office. You might be dying under the surface, trying to be that perfect model, suffocating under the dictates of greatness…while the world just walks past you, without giving you that prize, maybe even without acknowledging or noticing you.

So, while temporarily pretentious behaviour may be a protective shield for the ego, it has a harmful, almost ‘self- troubling/destroying’ quality to it! Pretense works like a cushioning layer over your true self. It is an adaptive response of a person to a situation, he is unable to handle, fit into or understand.

We also hear this often as we grow that harmony is better than conflict, and the more adept you are at pretending, the longer your “friendships” will last and so on. The line between pretending and lying is thus a thin one. One can’t really tell when we are lying to other people, when we are pretending and when we are lying to ourselves!

So, the truth we seek and expect out of our kids, contradicts the lie we live! Children are not born liars. They learn to lie. Lying then becomes a habit.
Our pretentious self doesn’t pass on to our kids, our reality does!

Honesty to do with our thoughts on external matters may have little to do with honesty in our everyday life and existence.

It is time to introspect. Maybe being honest in our day to day existence would be more beneficial to our children than being opinionated at social forums.
For those ‘honest’ ladies and gentlemen, it is important to focus on yourself and your inner circle. Work toward harmonizing relationships with family and friends while not disturbing your own reality.

Stop resorting to a lie, to suit a situation or get out of another one. Your kids are watching you. They are hearing you, imitating you and learning from you all the time. If it seems to be working for you, your baby perceives it as adaptive behaviour, which will work for her too.
Venting out on social forums is not the honesty we are talking about here. It is honesty in our day to day interactions, at home, in business and at work; in the reports we write, in sharing information with loved ones- friends and family.

Honesty stems from sincere completion of tasks. It also grows out of “true- to -you” kind of existence, where you are happily doing something, and not trying to “people please” for that extra brownie. That piece of cake isn’t going to be in your plate by the time the task ends. Honest behaviour has an intrinsic reward to it, one of contentment, which does affect your child’s development.
“My life is my message” (Mahatma Gandhi) holds true for each of us too. Our life is the message our kids imbibe, let’s be honest!

Rohini Sethi                                                                                                                                           Child Development Consultant