I’ve recently realised since becoming a parent myself that I am starting to tell white lies to my children just like my mother did to me.
I didn’t realise it at first but the little lies we tell our children come from a place of love, but is it still okay to lie even if it is white?
I remember feeling anxious about certain things when I was growing up as most children do, and I would always seek comfort from my mum who seemed to know everything and put things in such a way that made me feel like all was fine and nipped my early feeling of anxiousness in the bud.
Even today, my mum is the first person I call in a crisis or even when I just need to know whether I can freeze yoghurt and she always has reassuring words. (Although now I know she may be telling me a white lie, but I go with it anyway as it makes me feel better. That’s the ‘Your bum doesn’t look big in that dress’ lie.)
Here are the top 10 white lies my mother told me when I was growing up:
- ‘Yellow teeth mean your teeth are strong and they will last you a lifetime.’
This was told to me when I was about 15 years old and teeth whitening started to become a thing, I remember comparing my teeth to those in magazines and feeling inadequate in the dental department with wonky teeth with a slight yellow tinge.
- ‘Thick hair means it’s strong and healthy’
This was told to me when I was in my late teens and everyone had started straightening their hair. I was always critical of my bushy, wild and thick hair and longed to have tresses like the people I saw on the telly.
- ‘Sweating means you’re a healthy person’
I have always struggled with sweat! I was always the one that had the sweat marks in coloured t-shirts and would shy away from the handshake with my damp palms. I used to moan to mum ‘Why me?!’ ‘Why do I have to suffer?’
- ‘Veins that you can see mean you have a good blood supply’
I didn’t become aware of my veins until my 20’s. I remember one moment of feeling really fed up about the veins in my hands being so prominent and after a picture of Madonna getting criticised for having veiny hands I was upset and turned to my mum.
- ‘Spots are a good thing, it means you have oily skin and won’t get so many wrinkles when you are older.’
When I was growing up spots were my mortal enemy!! So many entries into my diary weeping about the state of my pizza face and the torment I felt every day. I felt being spotty was a curse and it made me feel quite down during my teenage years.
- ‘Having a few strands of grey hair mean you hair is tough and you will have a good head of hair when you are older’
I first noticed spots of grey in my hair when I was about 15, it was around then that I started to dye my hair. I only had a few odd strands and felt totally mortified by it, especially since a boy in my class had started to go grey all over and was being mercilessly teased for it.
- ‘You’re belly is just puppy fat, that will go as you get older’
Ah, the puppy fat years! It was a good 10 years that mum referred to my middle area as a bit of puppy fat. I hardly had any fat around my middle except an inch you could squeeze but I remember feeling conscious about it and not being slimmer like some of my friends were
- ‘Everyone has stretch marks they will disappear over the years and you won’t notice them at all’
I got stretch marks when I was a teenager as I had a bit of a quick growth spurt, I was reaching 6ft and I was a bean pole with no curves, when all of a sudden POW! Hormones kicked in and I got hips and a belly and the longed for boobs. That also meant the sudden growth gave me a few stretch marks on my thighs and hips and I was mortified.
- ‘You will grow out of Travel sickness’
I have suffered with this my whole life and continue to do so. I am the one always offering to drive places so I can sit in the front. I used to be so scared to go on school trips on a coach knowing that I would be throwing up into a bag and everyone would laugh at me.
- ‘Your baby screaming a lot means he has good lungs and is strong.’
The white lies didn’t stop even when I became a parent and was faced with a colicky baby who just liked to scream all the time. I used to be so anxious thinking what are we doing wrong? Is he in pain?
Reading the 10 white lies my mother told me makes me realise that growing up when I felt anxious, nervous, not good enough or worried I would turn to my mother and she would give me a confident, positive and hopeful answer that would dismay my fears and make me feel better. My mum made me feel that any problem I felt I was having was normal, easily overcome and in time would get better.
I realise now that I could have grown up as a child full of stress and concern but instead I grew up with confidence, positivity and a feeling that anything I was going through was okay and that I would get through it.
Thank you mum for making things seem so much simpler than they were, and for constantly giving me comfort and hope when I needed it. You never dragged me down, all you did was lift me up.
I may tell my child the odd white lie or mistruth when they need to hear it in exactly the same way as you did to me. ‘No darling, that bird isn’t dead he’s just sleeping’.
Do you ever tell white lies to your children?
Photo credit: Designed by Asierromero / Freepik