One of the things I love about having kids is getting a glimpse into the way their minds work. When my oldest son was about four years old, he created an imaginary friend named Tixer. Tixer, Zackary told me, was a ghost from the olden days that had come to live with us. Tixer was nice, but his arch-nemesis, Omlite (who I assume was another ghost), was not. The stories of their adventures always kept me entertained.
Yet at the same time as Zackary was inventing stories about Tixer, I was teaching and enforcing basic values of honesty and openness to my young son. And then one day as we were getting back from a trip to Regina and not talking about anything in particular, my uncharacteristically quiet boy looked at me and said, “Mom? There’s not really any such person as Tixer. I made him up. I’m sorry I lied.”
I looked into his earnest, slightly worried eyes. Of course, I couldn’t help but be a little amused that he’d felt the need to confess, but I also felt bad for the internal struggle he’d obviously been dealing with. I told him that was okay, and that I forgave him. I also told him that even if Tixer wasn’t real, I didn’t mind if he made up stories about him. Inside, I wondered if my lessons in honesty were squelching my child’s vibrant imagination.
Teaching basic life lessons to young children is no easy task and having some way of illustrating concepts is always helpful. Netflix has some fabulous children’s shows to help and since they feature many of my boys’ favourite characters, it takes a bit of the pressure of teaching those life lessons off me. My oldest was a huge fan of Clifford the Big Red Dog in his early years, so watching the Season One episode The Kibble Crook would have provided me with an enjoyable way to get my point across.
And now that my youngest son is at a similar age and, to my surprise, rather a bold liar at times, turning him to one of his favourite characters, Curious George, for a lesson about lying seems like a good idea. The Season One episode Truth About George Burger has just the message I want to convey.
But no matter what methods I use to instil honesty in my sons, I still think that communication is a crucial part of that teaching process. Watching fun cartoons about the consequences of lying is a great start, but the message doesn’t really hit home unless I take the time to talk about the episode and the lesson with my boys afterwards. As a bonus, that means that putting on a cartoon my boys love can be a great way to spend some family time together as well!
Parenting is nothing if not challenging, so being able to sit down and laugh at a favourite cartoon on Netflix while still knowing my sons are getting a positive and educational message about life is always nice. And there are plenty of fun shows to choose from! Even if it takes a while for the lessons to sink in, I know the phases will pass eventually, and we’ll be spending valuable time together along the way.