Haven't finished the article, spare thought after reading this part:
I think it's the anger that would worry me most if I had a 3 year old. I was 29 when I moved to New York and I was surprised even then. I wouldn't want a 3 year old to see some of the disputes I saw. It would be too frightening. A lot of the things adults conceal from smaller children, they conceal because they'd be frightening, not because they want to conceal the existence of such things. Misleading the child is just a byproduct.
I get his point, but I think that's too absolute. There are ways to answer questions truthfully without misleading.
I was having conversations with my kid about awkward subjects from when she was very little -- sex, etc. I think I answered truthfully, just tried to match it to her developmental stage. If she saw a New Yorker cover with two grooms on top of a wedding cake and said "What's that?", I'd say "it's a wedding cake with two grooms instead of a bride and a groom." If she left it at that, fine. If she said "Two men can get married?" I'd say "yes" (and maybe or maybe not qualify it with "in some places.") And on according to her interest level/ questions. I wouldn't plunge right in with the history of Stonewall and the mechanics of gay sex.
I think that's all actually much more analagous to the factual questions than the author seems to think. For example, sozlet's always been interested in science but our answers to her questions have gotten more complicated as she gets older. They're still factual, but started simple and became more complex according to her ability to process the complexity.
By the way, we've gotten to the point where we've had some conversations about sex not just being for procreation, and SHE's profoundly not interested in talking about that. She knows she can ask if she has any questions, but the "concealment" isn't coming from my side. (She has books etc. but is definitely in an ick factor phase.)
If parents told their kids the truth about sex and drugs, it would be: the reason you should avoid these things is that you have lousy judgement. People with twice your experience still get burned by them. But this may be one of those cases where the truth wouldn't be convincing, because one of the symptoms of bad judgement is believing you have good judgement. When you're too weak to lift something, you can tell, but when you're making a decision impetuously, you're all the more sure of it.
We've definitely talked about all of that. Science is a big help there (and the fact that she's interested in it). For example we talked about the recent study that showed that teenagers made worse decisions when they thought
their friends were watching them -- the friends weren't even there. (That is, "peer pressure" can be applied from within, wanting to impress one's friends even if they aren't applying any type of pressure at all.) Plus all the hot state vs. cold state stuff. (Basically, you can be totally sure you will act one way when you are in a calm, normal "cold" state, but then when you get in a "hot" state all bets are off. Your brain is just different. So it's important to prepare for the possibility of hot-state you sabotaging cold-state you's best-laid plans.)
We also don't care about what words she uses, qua using them. I do care HOW she uses them, and whether she understands what sort of damage they can do to people who are bothered by them. (My parents, who thought they were being honest by using "****" casually, as in "I have to go take a ****," set me up for big problems when for example I said that to my grandparents at age 6 or so.)
But she knows 'em all and what they mean and knows that we don't care if she uses them at home (as long as they're not intended to be hurtful anyway). Right now she doesn't like any of them and never seems to use 'em.
Without the helplessness that makes kids cute, they'd be very annoying.
This seems really, really wrong. Wonder, curiosity, joy, competence
-- there are all kinds of things that make kids un-annoying, helplessness is way down on the list I think.
Anyway, all that and I haven't directly answered your question:
* Can you recall any lies (or not exactly truths) that your parents told you that you think were completely harmless, fun even?
I'm not sure. My dad and I would do a lot of storytelling that wasn't really overt storytelling, just making stuff up and telling it straight but with the mutual understanding that it wasn't actually true.
* Are there any lies you were told as a child which you believe were harmful, or confusing, or hurtful to you? Why do you think they told you these untruths?
There must've been. Most of the ones I can think of I learned about later though (also a pet-death story, I was told it was instantaneous but actually the dog was just wounded and may have been saved by a vet but my dad didn't want to pay).
* Are there any lies which you were told as a child which you now tell your own children, or else the children you have dealings with? What are they?
Santa et al I guess. I've talked about before (basically sozlet knew it was not any more "true" than plenty of other storytelling-type stuff we do but when I'd ask would say she still believed in Santa because she didn't want the cookies + milk and special Santa presents to stop. Now I know that she knows that I know that... and we still do cookies + milk and special Santa presents.)
* Do you think that adults should be truthful to children at all times? If not, when are lies acceptable, or even preferable to the strict truth in your opinion?
That was pretty much my main point above I guess, I don't think it has to be so either/or. "That's a cake with two grooms" is truthful but also not the "strict" truth in the Stonewall/ mechanics sense.