Interesting article on upbringing

I found the article learning to lie (printable version with less ads) very interesting - probably partly because it confirms some of my already held beliefs about how to bring up children. Here are some excerpts that struck me:

The average Pennsylvania teen was 244 percent more likely to lie than to protest a rule. In the families where there was less deception, however, there was a much higher ratio of arguing and complaining. The argument enabled the child to speak honestly. Certain types of fighting, despite the acrimony, were ultimately signs of respect-not of disrespect. But most parents donīt make this distinction in how they perceive arguments with their children. (...) Forty-six percent of the mothers rated their arguments as being destructive to their relationships with their teens. Being challenged was stressful, chaotic, and (in their perception) disrespectful. (...) But only 23 percent of the adolescents felt that their arguments were destructive. Far more believed that fighting strengthened their relationship with their mothers. "Their perception of the fighting was really sophisticated, far more than we anticipated for teenagers," notes Holmes. "They saw fighting as a way to see their parents in a new way, as a result of hearing their motherīs point of view be articulated."

And this:

"Many parents today believe the best way to get teens to disclose is to be more permissive and not set rules," Darling says. Parents imagine a trade-off between being informed and being strict. Better to hear the truth and be able to help than be kept in the dark. Darling found that permissive parents donīt actually learn more about their childrenīs lives. (...) Pushing a teen into rebellion by having too many rules was a sort of statistical myth.


the type of parents who are actually most consistent in enforcing rules are the same parents who are most warm and have the most conversations with their kids," Darling observes. Theyīve set a few rules over certain key spheres of influence, and theyīve explained why the rules are there. They expect the child to obey them. Over lifeīs other spheres, they supported the childīs autonomy, allowing them freedom to make their own decisions. The kids of these parents lied the least. Rather than hiding twelve areas from their parents, they might be hiding as few as five.

My own conclusions:

  1. Children need - in a nutshell - love and authority. (I think I need to work a bit more on the second part. Being strict doesn't come naturally for me..). I believe a parent need not worry about being too strict as long as the rules are derived from principles it's important to teach the children (such as "do not hurt animals" and even "do not scream while mum has a head ache") AND the parent also shows care.
  2. Never ever lie to children. Not even while you try to make them behave.

(Note though that lies and fantasy are distinct things. Saying "if you don't finish your food, your aunt won't come and visit you tonight" is probably a lie. Storytelling and fairytales is fantasy.)

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