If parents don't lie to their kids, someone else will. I never tried drugs of any sort until I was 26 – well into my adultery, because when I was a kid, my mom showed me a film strip of a kid drinking a beer, taking an aspirin, keeling over and dying. I believed it. A parent's job is to get kids safely to a point that they can be released into the world, in which they cause as little damage as possible. That's it. They'll forgive you for the lies, if the lies are well intended. Here are some every parent should tell:
- If you get a tattoo, I will grind it off with a belt sander! I love tattoos, but the last thing I want is my 13-year-old falling in love with the symbolism of a butterfly, and tattooing it on her lower back to symbolize her relationship to the emo culture. Kids are so hard done by these days. Dude – how emo can you be? You've got a damn iPod! Tattoos are an awesome way to display individualism. Cars are awesome too, but I don't want to share the road with my ten-year-old. By the time the kids are old enough to know I won't actually light up the belt sander, theoretically they'll know better than to point at the Care Bear on the wall of the tattoo shop and say, “Wow! I want that on my body for the rest of my life.”
- If you're ever a stripper (or anything else that proves I was a bad parent), I'll invite all of the relatives to come cheer for you while you dance! If your daughter is putting herself through college getting naked for men who throw cash at her, you've clearly screwed up somewhere. I don't know how many women in college said to me, “I hope my parents never find out about this.” If you think it's winning the battle to keep her off the pole by threatening to disown her, you're missing it. You will win the whole war if you threaten to be overly supportive and proud!
- You're way too smart to ever be an idiot! Your kid might be the dumbest little runt to ever suck on a lead-paint encrusted swing-set. That doesn't matter. Kids believe the lies their parents tell them. Supposedly Einstein said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” There's something to that. Lots of people will tell your mentally challenged spawn how stupid they really are. It's your job to give them an underlying base that screams in their ear “you're too smart for this” any time they decide they want to play “leap-truck” at 70 miles per hour down the highway.
Lie to your kids. It's worth it!