I was watching an Indian movie “We are Family” the other day, which is a Desi version of Julia Roberts’ movie “Stepmom”. In the movie, actress Karina Kapoor brings a crown for a little girl and says, “I have stolen this crown for you from a real princess.”
That reminded me that how in our Desi culture lying with love to your kids is not considered a bad thing. No one sees that telling a child that you stole a crown for her is actually telling her that it is okay to steal.
It is done in several different forms. We teach our kids lying from childhood practically while telling them verbally at the same time that lying is a bad thing. For example, if you tell your kids to tell a caller on the phone that you are not home, it is teaching them how to lie.
I learnt that very early. I remember when my daughter was three years old and I took her to her babysitter’s house, my daughter would not let go of me, I said, “I am just going to my car. I would be right back.”
Caucasian babysitter interrupted me and said very firmly, “No, mommy is going to work and she would be back in the evening but we are going to have a lot of fun together without her.”
I was embarrassed but I learnt something that day. I was not only teaching my daughter how to lie, I was also going to lose her trust that day. When I had not come right back, she would not have trusted me the next time. Interestingly it happens in Pakistan all the time but we do not see anything wrong with it.
I remember that my cousin used this trick all the time and when her daughter stopped trusting her, my cousin laughed if off saying that her daughter had become smarter and knew now that mama was lying, and she did not see this as losing her daughter’s trust.
This cycle goes on generations after generations. We have developed a culture of lying and deceiving and we see nothing wrong with it. For example when a merchant tells you the price of a dress, you know and he knows that the price he told is wrong and is open to negotiation. Then the war begins. Him and you go back and forth offering different prices and eventually agree on one and both of you think of yourselves as winners in the end.
No wonder that lying, cheating and dishonesty is a way of life in Pakistan and no one sees anything wrong with it.
Being a mother, I always wonder that what would be the best approach to raise my child with good values. Many believe that guiding your children towards religion is the best approach. When a religiously manic country like Pakistan is one of the most corrupt countries as well, I do not buy the argument that religion is a way to keep them moral. I would like to quote one of my friends, who rightly says, “bigger the beard of a person, bigger fraud that person is”.
The best approach in my opinion is discussing every issue with your children instead if shutting them down. Also letting them speak and ask questions instead of saying, “It is good because Allah said it”. If it is good, give them reasons that why it is good.