If your child asks a question, it is because he wants to know the answer. Of course depending on the age of your child, you respond appropriately, but never brush off their question as not being important. The fact that your child asks you a question, shows that he is curious. He has a desire to discover the world he is growing up in and has a need to interact with you and have you do it with him. The question is important to your child based upon his current points of reference, or he would not have asked it
He will value your undivided attention so much, which will become evident in later years, when you ask him a question, or need an answer. He will give it to you, because that has always been the way you have treated him. As his father, you lead by example.
It is at a very early age that you should set the ground rules for the quality of communication between you and your children. This will determine what happens throughout their whole childhood. If you get this right, at the start of their lives, it will reap immeasurable benefits for the quality of your relationship together in later years. This will be very evident during the teenage years, when the challenges are very different, and can sometimes seem insurmountable for both of you.
Think of the amount of times you have heard other fathers say to their child “ask me later”, or “go and ask your mother”. By doing this, you are sending a subliminal message to your child. ‘I do not have time for you right now’, or ‘I’m not interested in what you want to know’, or even ‘it doesn’t concern me’. Potentially this can be the start of the construction of subconscious barriers to communication with your child, which as he gets older will be very hard to overcome.
So, stop whatever you are doing, or at least as soon as it is safe to do so, and listen carefully to the question. Then answer it honestly. You both will reap the benefits of this approach right through to your child’s adulthood………………… and beyond!
As a father and a parent, you will never want to hurt your child, but sometimes if you tell them things as they really are, they will get upset and the effects may even last for sometime. Occasionally a ‘white lie’ is acceptable if it is done to protect your child from something, particularly if they are not yet at an age when they can understand the full consequences of it. However, you should always try to be honest with your children and never lie to them on serious issues.
Sometimes it is very difficult to stick to this guideline, but remember that your children deserve you to treat them correctly. It doesn’t really matter what the subject matter is of your ‘white lie’, but your judgement of the situation will determine if it is the correct course of action. If your child is a toddler or under five and his grand mother passes away, you might tell him that ‘nanna has gone to a special place with the angels’.
If however he has been at primary school for a few years he will be starting to learn about the human life cycle and that we are born and we eventually die. You may make a judgement call in this instance and tell him the truth but couch it in more direct gentle terms like ‘nanna passed away peacefully in her sleep and has gone to heaven’. So how you communicate with your child will very definitely be relative to your child’s age and his ability to comprehend life events like this.
If however you do lie to him even on a subject as serious as this and he finds out, it will send the message that this is an acceptable form of behaviour. Remember, at all times your child will look up to you and copy your behaviour, so he will need you to handle a situation like this in the correct way. He will remember how you do this for many years to come.
This is often one of a father’s (parent’s) real dilemmas. What level of openness and honesty should you have with your child when she is a Toddler or under 7? Should you tell her exactly what is going on and risk upsetting her, or are there ever times when lying to you child is acceptable? Every parent wants their child to be brought up to be open and honest and therefore you may worry that if you are not like that with your child every time, she may assume that not being honest is acceptable and normal behaviour.
It really depends on the sensitivity of your child and you may feel that a ‘white lie’ is acceptable if it is done to protect your child from something, particularly if they are not yet of an age when they can understand the full consequences of it. The dilemma of course, is that you may not want to tell a lie to your child.
Once your child gets a bit older and becomes more mature, you will decide when she is ready to hear the truth every time. But initially this may be very hard for her to take in or accept. Irrespective of the age of your child, you may decide that on very serious issues, you will never lie to her. This rule however, can be very difficult to stick to, but if you always keep in mind that your child deserves to be treated with respect, then you will always make the right choice for her.
If you do decide not to tell your child something and tell her a lie, you must ensure that there is no way she can ever find out the truth, until at least she is an adult. If she does, then it will say to her that this is an acceptable way to behave. Always remember, your child, particularly as a Toddler and up to puberty, will look to you as her role model and if you do something, then she will do it as well.