While I've not yet read the book, I'm inclined to agree with its premise that parents' dishonesty can be a bad influence on kids.
In this news article, the author (Borsellino) states that....
"If we justify white lies, soon we become color-blind, and then we start to change where the standard is," he says. "Our kids watch us move the bar up and down."
Borsellino's favorite parental lie is, "Looks don't matter -- it's what's on the inside that counts."
"This is a great opportunity to not deny the truth and retain your credibility by saying, 'Honey, looks do matter, but it is never more important to me than what's on the inside -- your character. That's what matters most to me,' " he says.
This whole topic reminds me of the self esteem push in schools. The more confident students become the more their performance declines. I find it a little scary when children have such a distorted view of themselves and their actual abilities. As a parent, there is a fine balance between encouraging and deluding a child.
From another article,
Lies set children up for disappointment and failure, he says, pointing to "You can be anything you want to be" as among the most egregious. Not all kids who aspire to play professional football or be a movie star will fulfill their dream. In fact, very few do.
"We want to motivate our kids to dream big and reach for their goals, but this tale goes over the line," says Borsellino, who discourages the use of absolutes - always, never, anything - in much of parenting.
. . . . Borsellino advises parents to talk with their kids about how their aspirations and skills mesh. For example, the child who wants to play in the NBA but lacks athletic ability may have the business smarts to make it in management. It's a parent's job to let him know that he can do the most with what he has and to help him achieve that.
This can be a very painful process. I have a friend whose teenage daughter has a serious speech impediment which makes it difficult for her to be understood. Recently, this girl began seeing a new speech therapist that used video feed back. By watching herself on tape she realized for the first time just how far off the mark she truly was. With a more accurate picture of her disability, she made more progress with this speech therapist than any other.
It was a painful lesson, but her speech has dramatically improved. If her parents and teachers had continued to shelter her from the reality of her condition, she would have had little motivation for improvement. When she saw herself as others saw her, she was willing to put in the work. Previous to this point, this teen had received quite a lot of negative peer feed back about her garbled speech. With so much of peer pressure being arbitrary and unkind, she had disregarded it as garden variety meanness. Thus prior to the video feed back, she was genuinely unaware of the severity of her disability.
I've seen problems with this sort of thing in homeschooling circles as well. Parents can over shelter their children from all unpleasantness. Because the child has limited contacts outside the home, the child misses the kind of feed back that would motivate a legitimate course correction. Not all peer pressure is bad.
Many times parents use white lies, not to protect the child, but to protect themselves. It takes a lot of time and effort to help a child work through an unpleasant reality.
Hopefully, I can find this book at my local library. I look forward to see what this author has to say.