Where Do Kids Learn About Lying?
Many parents feel that their kids "catch" lying from one another, like a virus. But adults are children's first role models. If our kids watch the news, they are likely to get a glimpse of any number of proven liars on display -- embezzling politicians, corrupt cops, and most recently, a bevy of corporate leaders. And those are just the ones who have gotten caught.
Let's face it: Parents are also guilty of telling lies. Sometimes they're seemingly harmless -- an outlandish story to persuade our child to eat, stay put, or be good. And then there are the ones every parent must tell, to hide the facts of death, violence, or danger from children too young to absorb the truth. We just don't count them as untruths. Eventually, though, we get caught asserting one time too many that we're in contact with Santa Claus, and all too soon it becomes obvious that we ourselves are liars, liars, pants on fire. And so we are.
"Sometimes people will say, 'I don't lie,'" says Dr. DePaulo. But how many of us will go see a friend on chemo and tell her that she looks bad? "People who say they don't lie give themselves a pass if they have a good reason," she says. "They tell themselves it doesn't count."