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Being Strict With Your Children Can Turn Them Into Liars, Study Finds

Being Strict With Your Children Can Turn Them Into Liars, Study Finds

Lying is a fluid and complex concept, and one that is subject to various gradients and degrees. While many of us may be tempted to spin the truth when trying to hiding harmless mistakes or effectively sell a used car, for example, this is entirely different to the type of sustained and pathological lies that quickly become ingrained in individuals.

How Strict Parenting Can Breed Innate Liars

A recently survey conducted by Victoria Talwar has sought to shed further light on the concept of lying, while its findings suggest that strict parenting tends to result in particularly deceptive and duplicitous offspring. The study was conducted at two West African schools, one with relaxed rules and the other with notoriously harsh disciplinary regimes. As part of the process, the children were asked to guess what object was making a particular noise without looking at it.

The key to the study is that the last object makes an erroneous sound that has no correlation with what it is supposed to represent. So a baseball would make a definitive squawking noise, for example, meaning that it could only possibly be identified by respondents who had taken a sneaky peak at the final object. At the end of the study, the children were asked to identify each object according to the sound and then quizzed as to whether they had peeked.

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The results proved that while students at the more relaxed school showcased an even distribution of liars and truth-tellers (according to the predetermined age group), the children in stricter establishments revealed themselves to be far more prolific and efficient liars.

How Can Parents learn from this to fine-tune their Parenting?

As a general rule, it appears as though parents who are draconian in their approach and rigidly punish their children for any wrongdoing inadvertently force their offspring to become more proficient liars. This enables them to use lying as a way of escaping punishment, while this behaviour gradually becomes ingrained within a stringent and unforgiving environment.

Now, the question that remains is how individuals should fine-tune parenting skills so that their children can avoid becoming pathological liars as they grow older?

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Here are some initial ideas to help you on your way:

1. Recognise the nature of lying and its varying degrees

We have already touched on the fact that there are variable degrees of lying, while it is also important to note that the ability to lie can emerge naturally and remains a genuine sign of formative cognitive development. It is crucial that you recognise this, as parents can sometimes react to harmless, primary lies (which are often unconvincing and designed to hide errant behaviour) with a stricter regime.

This only teaches children to be even more duplicitous, however, so try to understand the innate nature of lying and refrain from adopting a draconian approach that perpetuates a cycle of deceit.

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2. Harness your Child’s Creativity and Non-Linear Thinking

On a similar note, it should be said that children can learn to tell secondary and tertiary lies (which tend to be customised to suit the accuser and far more believable) even in a more relaxed environment. This behaviour is often a sign of strong cognitive abilities and intelligence, however, while it can also highlight a child’s enhanced level of creativity and ability to think in non-linearly.

In this respect, your child’s ability to lie effectively is actually a sign of advanced cognitive development, which in turn should be harnessed and channelled into more beneficial pursuits. Encouraging your child to indulge their creative passions from an early age is a wise move, for example, particularly if you can engage them with detailed art projects or design tasks that encourage them to use all of their burgeoning intellect.

This will not only afford them a stimulating outlet that will improve their behaviour, but it will also negate the need to lie to others.

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3. Createa more Forgiving Home Environment for your Child

Ultimately, a universally strict approach parenting only seems to exacerbate cycles of lying and duplicity, which can become ingrained in your children and cause them issues in later life. So while you should look to maintain an open and informed mind in instances where your child lies, it is also crucial to create a forgiving and understanding environment in which your offspring are allowed to make honest mistakes.

The key to this is treating each misdemeanour on its own merits, fully appraising the circumstances and the action of your child before taking action. In instances where your child has caused you to be angry, this period of reflection will help you to fully understand the circumstances and decide on an appropriate cause of action.

So while there may still be situations where some form of punishment is required, you will at least place an emphasis on the fair treatment of your child and discourage them from resorting to lying as a way of covering up their indiscretions.

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Published on January 30, 2019

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

In roughly 60 percent of two-parent households with children under the age of 18, both parents work full time. But who takes time off work when the kids are sick in your house? And if you are a manager, how do you react when a man says he needs time to take his baby to the pediatrician?

The sad truth is, the default in many companies and families is to value the man’s work over the woman’s—even when there is no significant difference in their professional obligations or compensation. This translates into stereotypes in the workplace that women are the primary caregivers, which can negatively impact women’s success on the job and their upward mobility.

According to a Pew Research Center analysis of long-term time-use data (1965–2011), fathers in dual-income couples devote significantly less time than mothers do to child care.[1] Dads are doing more than twice as much housework as they used to (from an average of about four hours per week to about 10 hours), but there is still a significant imbalance.

This is not just an issue between spouses; it’s a workplace culture issue. In many offices, it is still taboo for dads to openly express that they have family obligations that need their attention. In contrast, the assumption that moms will be on the front lines of any family crisis is one that runs deep.

Consider an example from my company. A few years back, one of our team members joined us for an off-site meeting soon after returning from maternity leave. Not even two hours into her trip, her husband called to say that the baby had been crying nonstop. While there was little our colleague could practically do to help with the situation, this call was clearly unsettling, and the result was that her attention was divided for the rest of an important business dinner.

This was her first night away since the baby’s birth, and I know that her spouse had already been on several business trips before this event. Yet, I doubt she called him during his conferences to ask child-care questions. Like so many moms everywhere, she was expected to figure things out on her own.

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The numbers show that this story is far from the exception. In another Pew survey, 47 percent of dual-income parents agreed that the moms take on more of the work when a child gets sick.[2] In addition, 39 percent of working mothers said they had taken a significant amount of time off from work to care for their child compared to just 24 percent of working fathers. Mothers are also more likely than fathers (27 percent to 10 percent) to say they had quit their job at some point for family reasons.

Before any amazing stay-at-home-dads post an angry rebuttal comment, I want to be very clear that I am not judging how families choose to divide and conquer their personal and professional responsibilities; that’s 100 percent their prerogative. Rather, I am taking aim at the culture of inequity that persists even when spouses have similar or identical professional responsibilities. This is an important issue for all of us because we are leaving untapped business and human potential on the table.

What’s more, I think my fellow men can do a lot about this. For those out there who still privately think that being a good dad just means helping out mom, it’s time to man up. Stop expecting working partners—who have similar professional responsibilities—to bear the majority of the child-care responsibilities as well.

Consider these ways to support your working spouse:

1. Have higher expectations for yourself as a father; you are a parent, not a babysitter.

Know who your pediatrician is and how to reach him or her. Have a back-up plan for transportation and emergency coverage.

Don’t simply expect your partner to manage all these invisible tasks on her own. Parenting takes effort and preparation for the unexpected.

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As in other areas of life, the way to build confidence is to learn by doing. Moms aren’t born knowing how to do this stuff any more than dads are.

2. Treat your partner the way you’d want to be treated.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard a man on a business trip say to his wife on a call something to the effect of, “I am in the middle of a meeting. What do you want me to do about it?”

However, when the tables are turned, men often make that same call at the first sign of trouble.

Distractions like this make it difficult to focus and engage with work, which perpetuates the stereotype that working moms aren’t sufficiently committed.

When you’re in charge of the kids, do what she would do: Figure it out.

3. When you need to take care of your kids, don’t make an excuse that revolves around your partner’s availability.

This implies that the children are her first priority and your second.

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I admit I have been guilty in the past of telling clients, “I have the kids today because my wife had something she could not move.” What I should have said was, “I’m taking care of my kids today.”

Why is it so hard for men to admit they have personal responsibilities? Remember that you are setting an example for your sons and daughters, and do the right thing.

4. As a manager, be supportive of both your male and female colleagues when unexpected situations arise at home.

No one likes or wants disruptions, but life happens, and everyone will face a day when the troubling phone call comes from his sitter, her school nurse, or even elderly parents.

Accommodating personal needs is not a sign of weakness as a leader. Employees will be more likely to do great work if they know that you care about their personal obligations and family—and show them that you care about your own.

5. Don’t keep score or track time.

At home, it’s juvenile to get into debates about who last changed a diaper or did the dishes; everyone needs to contribute, but the big picture is what matters. Is everyone healthy and getting enough sleep? Are you enjoying each other’s company?

In business, too, avoid the trap of punching a clock. The focus should be on outcomes and performance rather than effort and inputs. That’s the way to maintain momentum toward overall goals.

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The Bottom Line

To be clear, I recognize that a great many working dads are doing a terrific job both on the home front and in their professional lives. My concern is that these standouts often aren’t visible to their colleagues; they intentionally or inadvertently let their work as parents fly under the radar. Dads need to be open and honest about family responsibilities to change perceptions in the workplace.

The question “How do you balance it all?” should not be something that’s just asked of women. Frankly, no one can answer that question. Juggling a career and parental responsibilities is tough. At times, really tough.

But it’s something that more parents should be doing together, as a team. This can be a real bonus for the couple relationship as well, because nothing gets in the way of good partnership faster than feelings of inequity.

On the plus side, I can tell you that parenting skills really do get better with practice—and that’s great for people of both sexes. I think our cultural expectations that women are the “nurturers” and men are the “providers” needs to evolve. Expanding these definitions will open the doors to richer contributions from everyone, because women can and should be both—and so should men.

Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

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