My Little Masterpiece

Is lying to children okay if it gets them to eat vegetables?

Is lying to children okay if it gets them to eat vegetables? – ‘A means to an end’ and all that?

According to a recent study commissioned by Persil, loads of us tell our children stories in the name of nutrition: parents promise their children that their hair will curl if they eat their crusts, that they will see in the dark if they eat their carrots, that runner beans will make them run faster, that green food would turn them into a superhero and that spinach will make them strong, as will milk.

But wait a minute!

Okay so – crusts will not curl hair, runner beans will not turn children into Usain Bolt and green vegetables have little to do with Batman’s neuroses BUT I’d say that the rest of the lies are definitely a whiter shade of evil: carrots contain high levels of vitamin A and beta-carotene, both nutrients that are important for good eye health; the calcium in milk is important for bone strength and the inorganic nitrates found in spinach boost muscle strength.

So, essentially, the lies are exaggerations of the truth. Our children read ‘eye health’ as X-ray vision and ‘strong muscles’ as being able to lift cars off the ground – based on the way we tell. But there is an element of truth to the tales.

Anyway, we’re merely perpetuating a tradition invoked by our own parents – the aforementioned survey showed that many of the fibs we tell our kiddies are the same as the ones we were told back in the day. And this is why I just tell my children, ‘It’s broccoli, eat it because it’s good for you and because I say so’…

…If we manipulate our children by bending the truth to get them to do what we want (well, when you put it that way!) what’s to say they won’t do the same thing to us – with the same ‘good intentions’ we had. The context might mitigate the lie but in principle, a lie’s a lie. Then again; my children believe that there’s a loon who lives on the moon and that their toys come alive at night when she sleeps, and I call it ‘playing pretend’.

What’s the difference? Where do you draw the line?

What stories do you tell your children to get them to eat their veg?

Source: Dailymail.co.uk – “Parents tell their children that carrots will help them see in the dark and spinach will make them strong even though they know it’s not true”