Should you lie to your children if it's for the greater good? | BBC Radio Solent's Alun Newman

A lot of parenting is about telling lies. Or at least being economical with the truth.I am committed to the parenting rule that dictates, for example, that trigonometry is useful, being able to say ‘wasp’ in French is handy, and having a basic understanding of continental drift is vital for a young person’s development.

Friday, 24th January 2020, 11:10 am
Updated Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 1:54 pm
Alun's not sure whether to lie to his children about the importance of their GCSE work

However, I’m also aware that some things I was taught in school turned out to be incorrect – or just plain rubbish.

Continental drift is rubbish, the earth is in fact a series of rather large plates with continents on top.

On that point, no-one has ever apologised for the way is was presented as fact rather than theory but that’s scientists for you.

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They’re still up to their old tricks with dark matter but we’ll save that for another day.

I also have never had reason to use trigonometry but some do – engineers mostly and without them we’d all be in bother.

I have never needed to shout wasp in French because whatever language you speak, the internationally recognised approach is to wave your hands around frantically and scream.

Rarely do people announce an incoming wasp as if it was a Messerschmitt.

Back to telling lies.

You never know what’s going to interest your children, so it seems right and proper to expose them to as many wonderful and educational subjects as possible.

Eventually that journey comes to an end and children choose their own options.

This is the point when they select their GCSEs and drop languages and art (joking). It’s now, when they’ve made their selection, that parental fibbing kicks in.

Your children are still doing, for example, geography, even though they know that next school term they’ll never have to draw a picture of a topographic map again.

The issue arises when they’ve made their choices but they have the remaining school term to run before they have freedom from the dropped subjects.

It means they’re now technically studying something they’ve rejected.

This is when they come home and ask ‘what’s the point in trying hard?’ ‘Why bother doing the homework?’ ‘I might as well have fun in this lesson as I’m dropping it!’

I’m forced to come out with sentences such as ‘the point is staying focused and trying your best that’s important’.

Really? What I’m thinking is, they’re not joining the SAS, I don’t know why they’re even turning up, let alone considering trying hard.

I might say, ‘homework is vital, it’s been set by the school so do it please’.

Really? What I’m thinking is, Google that bad boy, copy and paste and save yourself the heartache.

In response to having fun, ‘lessons are not about having fun they’re about learning, pushing yourself and not distracting others’.

Really. What I’m thinking is that children seem to be under so much pressure these days a few normal laughs with their friends, just like every generation before, could do them a world of good.

Perhaps, just like every generation before, our parents were saying one thing and thinking another.

Maybe the secret is not always saying what you think or feel, but perhaps it is saying what is right or most helpful.

If we turned out okay, then the current model seems to be working and, on that basis, let’s keep the deception going until it’s their turn.

Pet pooch hair nightmare

I would like to pass on some information that may be helpful if you’re a dog owner.

As one of my children was removing fresh eggs in a cack-handed manner from the fridge, they dropped several while the door was open and the eggs smashed on the floor.

I say floor, but it was more like the foot of the fridge, as the door was still open.

‘No problem’ I declared in a non-judgemental and calm manner, while disguising my irritation. ‘I’ll clean it.’

The mess was catastrophic and a slapdash teenage clean was not going to cut the mustard on this occasion.

I decided to remove the cover at the bottom of the fridge (Phillips screws) to do a proper job because eggs can punish you.

On removing this cover, I was surprised to see an entire re-built version of our dog under the appliance.

I like to think I run a clean home, but dog hair is a challenge.

I have never before thought about these unpleasant nooks and crannies that can accumulate hair from your family pet on such a scale.

My advice, if you're a dog owner:

Pull your fridge out, take the covers off, check the unseen, make the effort before it’s too late.

I assure you, there’s another version of your dog being created as you read.