Teaching Kids to Lie

[Published in Origin Magazine March 2012]
There’s a First Time for Everything

Once upon a time, a superb New York City mama (let’s call her Sylvia) took her 5 year old daughter (let’s call her Lili) and her daughter’s friend ice-skating in Central Park. It was a beautiful day for ice skating; the sun was shining, the air just the right kind of winter warm. And as a result of the sunshine, the line to get into Wollman Rink was about two hours long.

Sylvia remembered last year, when she had the brilliant idea to jump to the front of the line, claiming that her daughter needed to use the bathroom. In the door and into a pair of rental skates they went.

“Hi there, Sir, my daughter really has to go to the bathroom, is that possible?”

“Why yes of course, please, go right ahead.”

And off went Sylvia, Lili, and friend, “victorious,” to “use the bathroom.” Then Sylvia exclaimed, “Well, since we’re HERE already, let’s just get some skates on!” Wink, wink.

That, dear friends, was Lili’s first lesson in how to lie.


Typically, victory means dominance over someone or something, using pressure, effort, wit, artistry or talent. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche talks about victory as a means of awakening, and redefines the concept for us.

“…victory is a natural sense of existence that provides no need for challenge, so no enemies exist. Since there is no regret and no laziness, you begin to appreciate the sacredness of the world.” 

In this story, when Sylvia came across this intensely long line, she saw it as a challenge to overcome, rather than a context to respect. She could’ve just taught her kid how to creatively have fun while she waited. If this “wink wink / cut the line” were to happen a few more times, Sylvia would wonder why, ten years down the road,  Lili hides her boyfriends, her drug use and bad grades, and might even call her child a “liar” – when it was she who taught her daughter exactly how to deceive.

From a place of decency, trust and respect that we as parents can cultivate in any circumstance, there is no need for dominance over anything – whether it’s a long line, your partner’s bad mood, or some misdeed that’s been done. Our children are absorbing our behaviors – let’s show them how to respect the space they’re in by handling ours with elegance, creativity and vision.

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