I know that I am not the only one who was very aware as a kid that my parents would tell people that I was a different age to save a few bucks. Whether it is a buffet, an amusement park or some other attraction, the prices would vary by age and I would always be younger than I really was. This became pretty normal and I never really thought about it until I got older and had a family of my own. Is this really OK, is it a victimless crime or is this instilling the wrong values at a young age?
I will not sit here and preach that I have never lied or that I have never told anyone that my kids were younger than they are but it is not a regular practice. I made a conscience decision a while ago that I would not do this on a regular basis. I mean, how can we get upset with our kids for lying when they see us blatantly lying, how can we justify that it is different because we are doing it to save money. I just can’t bring myself to do it. First of all, my kids would call me out in a second and say things like “No Daddy, I’m 5 now”, or something like that which is quite embarrassing. But that isn’t why I won’t do it, I am a firm believer in practice what you preach to make the message that much stronger. Again, I am no saint and there have been plenty of examples of me being far less than perfect but why do I want to willingly add to these?
There are two examples in the past year that I can remember doing this and telling someone they were younger than they really are and though there is no justification, my son doesn’t eat most foods (we are working on it) and at a buffet, I really resent paying full price when he is likely to eat a few pieces of pizza so as long as I can have the conversation with the waitress away from the kids, I might shave a year off his age. The only other time was at a museum that we originally thought was free and we didn’t have a lot of spending money budgeted for the trip and the kids were waiting around the corner when I paid. Again, not trying to justify my dishonesty here.
I know a lot of people who are struggling for money, these are very tough times and we are fortunate to be able to do things as a family. Sometimes people have to make these choices in order to go to these places, they may not have the money, or it may be budgeted for something a lot more important, like doctor bills or grocery bills. My point is that we don’t know other people’s struggles and we should not judge them if we see them doing something like this.
It is a moral conundrum that many parents don’t even think twice about, but maybe we should. If our kids see us lying to other adults who seem to be in a position of authority (even if that is the sales clerk at a museum or waiter), that shows them that we think it is OK for them to do it as well. We instill in them that there is a whole lot more of a gray area in right and wrong and while that may be true, their tiny brains may not be able to process all of that. It is definitely hard enough to be a kid these days with all of the added stressors from our day and we shouldn’t complicate things even further by making them question if their mommy or daddy is someone who tells lies to people in order to get what they want. Think of how it could impact their decision making! Think of what could be said at school when asked to tell the class about their family. I’ve been in classes when kids say too much and it can be very embarrassing for everyone around.
This is not the easiest decision in the world, but it seems that nothing is anymore. We need to think about the values that we want our kids to have and show them that we have the same ones. A child’s moral compass is formed from learned behavior, let’s come together and have them learn the best possible behaviors at a young age.
Stay strong and honest out there dads!