Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Book Review: Dangerous Lies We Tell to Children and Ourselves

Since this week I talked about parent interaction I wanted to include a review of a book that involved parents. 

I think my parents did a pretty amazing job, and I can really only remember one big lie they told me. I was a HUGE cry baby when I was younger. Skinned knees: I’d cry. Hurt feelings: I’d really cry. Broken toy: sobbing. Lost toy: mental breakdown. One day I went running to my mom in the backyard over some trivial ailment tears streaming down my face and she said, “Carissa, God only gives you so many tears, and if you waste them all now when I die you won’t be able to cry at my funeral.” It worked. I could almost feel the tears get sucked back into my tear ducts.

Did that lie affect me growing up? Maybe, but I don’t think so. I still cried when I was sad (or very happy). I still cry like a baby during those animal abuse commercials. It didn’t emotionally stunt me. It was just something she said to get me to reevaluate my personal preference towards constantly crying over everything. I don’t think my parents ever told me any dangerous lies, but maybe yours did?

Title: Dangerous Lies We Tell to Children and Ourselves Author: Deborah Dian  
Pages: 77 Price: $.99

Who would buy it? I think this book is directed at parents more than teachers, but as the author was an educator and teachers are often like parents I picked it up. That was a mistake. I don’t see much use for this book for a teacher, unless they have told one of the four lies mentioned below.

What does it do?  
The book covers nine lies that parents tell children, then four lies that teachers tell their students and finally six lies that parents tell themselves. The books rounds off with an epilogue and sources.
Essentially the book starts by stating that while adults are used to exaggeration and white lies children tend to accept everything at face value. This means that when a child is lied to they become hurt, frustrated, and less believing that everything is truthful.
The nine lies from parents are ones that I have difficulty relating to because my parents never said them. An example is, “You’re too young to know what that word means,” and “Don’t worry about money everything is fine.” Each lie goes through examples of when parents tell the lie, why they tell the lie, why the lie is so dangerous and what alternatives there are (e.g. how to tell the truth). 
Next we are given a look at some lies that teachers tell students. These are: “school is a safe place”; “only an idiot would vote for that guy”; “every student should take college prep classes”; and “a degree is the only way to be successful.” I can honestly say I’ve never told those lies, nor have I ever had a teacher tell them to me. I did have a very liberal government teacher in high school who dressed in black when someone was given the death penalty and often told us how amazing Michael Moore was, but she never told us she disliked George Bush.  If you have said something similar to those four lies, then you may like to get this book and check out some of the alternatives.
It ends with the six dangerous lies parents tell themselves. I have a splendid cat, but no children, so I basically skimmed this section. One example is, “”My teens are too young to be given adult information about sex”

Is it any good? 
Mostly I was not a fan of the book. Though, at one point, she pointed out the misguided results of teachers always telling students they can do anything. Yes, bolstering a student’s self-esteem is good, but platitudes such as, “work hard and you can be whatever you want,” are often just that…empty platitudes. Students then become embarrassed or feel inadequate when they are working a minimum wage out of high school. They were told they would have greatness…where is that?

In Fight Club,
Chuck Palahniuk wrote “We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off." I think this was a similar observation on her part.

Otherwise, I think I expected to relate more with this book, and when I couldn’t. I was disappointed. However, if you can remember being lied to as a child, or if any of the lies mentioned above that teachers tell have been things you’ve said then I think you would enjoy this book much more than I did,

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