Lies We Shouldn’t Have Told Our Children

Well, Santa Claus for one -- the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, the Great Pumpkin, etc., but none of those are as damaging as others that we have consistently pounded into our kids’ thinking. Let’s look at some of them:

1) You can become anything you want to be. Theoretically that’s nice. We want our kids to dream, to reach for the stars. We fail, however, because we don’t finish the lesson. We don’t point out that there are some limits. Why should a person like myself (I have a singing range of about three notes and very little control over which of those notes I hit.) spend her life trying to be a singer? Shouldn’t reality appear here somewhere?

We don’t really want our kids to spend their lives banging their heads against impossibilities. That’s why this hairbrained idea of transsexualism has caught on. After all, if you can be whatever you want to be, there’s no reason a young man’s urge to strut in stilettos shouldn’t be entirely fulfilled. Right? One way to test an idea is to stretch it to its extremes and if it still holds up, it may be valid. Obviously, we can toss this one on the ash heap.

2) You should make the world a better place. What’s wrong with that? For one, it’s impossible. We can each make an effort to make our own little patch of society as pleasant and productive as possible, but change the world? That’s a tall order. It’s also way too vague to be useful. What is “better?” By whose standards? How do we define “the world?” How much of the world? For how long? At whose expense? What do we mean by “change?” And, most importantly, who will be in charge?How many human beings have successfully made this world better? Jesus Christ, definitely. The heroes listed in Hebrews 11? Yes, but most of them had no idea at the time that that was what they were doing. They tried to live and maintain a relationship with God, but mostly they got in trouble.

We can say that whoever invented the wheel did the world a service. Henry Ford’s invention of the assembly line certainly made life easier and more fun. Does that count as an improvement? Steve Jobs and Bill Gates certainly changed the world, but is it better? They certainly changed things as fundamentally as Gutenberg did, but is it better? Can’t we just raise our kids to work honestly and productively, to marry and raise a family and pay their debts and be generally kind to others?

3) You are the product of blind, random mutations. You have no purpose or meaning. That’s a doozy -- especially when we couple it with the last lie. We accept without thinking what a profound effect that has on kids. Darwinian evolution is one of the most dangerous and debilitating falsehoods we’ve allowed in, and since we’ve permitted the school system to clothe that lie in a white lab coat and lionize all statements called “science,” we have left our kids in a very dark wood with no way out.

And, what’s worse is that our government, in order to cement the lie, spends billions of dollars each year to convince our kids that God isn’t. If, for 12 to 20+ years, we send them off to schools that are devoted to the myth of religious neutrality, where the God of the Bible is either never mentioned or openly attacked, why are we surprised that our children lose their way, lose their faith right when they need it the most? An hour of Sunday School a week isn’t going to counter that massive indoctrination.

4) You can measure your success in life by either wealth or title. It’s human nature to want to be the best that we can be. It’s human nature to want to keep score. The only poblem is that any personal goal really worth aiming for can’t be scored. It’s easy to be confused here and to spend one’s efforts at being either rich or famous, or at least recognized with a namable title -- senator, CEO, valedictorian. Being a wonderful parent, or neighbor, or friend comes last too often. My father used to say, “Money isn’t everything, but it’s way ahead of whatever is in 2nd place.” He neither got rich nor did he build a good relationship with his children -- a tragic waste of a life.

5) You can attain either easily. I call this the Death of a Salesman fallacy.  Willy Loman, the “hero” of the play, the salesman, wanted so badly to be rich and admired. But unlike my workaholic father, Loman thought he could do so easily. This is what drives people (who can ill afford it) to buy lottery tickets. This is the draw of game shows. It is why people sell drugs. We can’t let our kids build that idea into their value systems; it will ruin them. There isn’t an easy way -- our kids need to know that going in. Willy Loman didn’t know that and it caused his pitiful death.

6) People are basically good. That’s such a lovely fallacy. Wouldn’t it be nice? But it’s unsatisfactory. In the first place, it’s not true. The Christian doctrine of original sin is much closer to reality. Watch infants and you can see beyond their beauty to the incredible selfishness of their little souls. No three-week old child cares that his mother desperately needs to sleep through the night -- he just wants to be fed and what he wants is all that matters to him. It takes years to train him to think more broadly -- and some people never get there.

Secondly, it fails to explain the horrors that surround us. If people are basically good, then why crime? Why do we need prisons? Some of our most fairytale cities have been trying to live without police to enforce the law. It’s not going so well. In fact, if people are basically good, why do we even need law? I think we can make a case that most people are basically nice -- if they’ve been raised by decent, loving parents they pretty much seem nice, but nice isn’t the same as good.

If we want our children to be wise and safe then we better tell them the truth about original sin -- “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” -- way short.

7) The worst of all the lies -- There is no such thing as absolute truth. That is also an attractive dictum because we can save ourselves the trouble of really thinking about difficult issues. Just grab some tolerance and let it all slide. If there’s no truth, there’s nothing to stand up for, nothing we’re really responsible for, no thought required, no information necessary. If we raise intellectually lazy children, they won’t be there for us when we need them. They will vote nonchalantly, work lazily, and try to become beings they’re not. You can’t be transgender and be much interested in veracity.

If we want our cars to run well, we have to fill them with the right fuel. We can’t go pumping them full of sugar-water. The same for our kids. If we want traffic to move along in an orderly manner then we need to be in the correct lane, going the right direction. We haven’t been honest with our kids, or with ourselves, and now it shows. We are reaping the whirlwind.

Deana Chadwell is an adjunct professor and department head at Pacific Bible College in southern Oregon. She teaches writing, logic, and literature. She can be contacted at

Image: Thomas Guest

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