Reflection: “Lies we tell kids”

After reading the article “Lies we tell kids”, I was shocked to realize that actually lot of things that my parents and elders had told me before were lies to protect and ensure me. My grandmother prevented me from going out at night by saying there’s giant centipede, and my mother told me that my grandfather became a star in the sky when he actually died of cancer. I think a belief that’s solidified during childhood is very strong; even though I know that my grandfather being turned into a star is scientifically impossible, when I see a single star glowing in the sky I still think that it’s my grandfather looking down upon me.

Thinking back again, I think that the culture I grew up in contains lots of lies. Nearly every Korean people have Chinese name which has meaning. My grandmother went to a monk she knew and named me and my brother: My name is Ji Young (지영, 智永) which means ‘long wisdom’, and my brother’s name is Sun Woo(선우, 宣又) meaning ‘continually giving’. My parents used to tell me that since I was named Ji Young, I will become clever and live long life. Now, everyone including me knows that this is just a religious myth. But by lying to me and also to themselves my family wanted to encourage me that I’ll become a great person in the future.

The article also mentioned that the lies of elders were also present in ancient times. In case of ancient Korea it’s quite ironic compared to the present. Koreans purposely called their child with unattractive names such as Gae Ddong (개똥,dog poo….) or Dol Swae (돌쇠, common name of
servant) even if their child were pretty, of high status, or already has a proper name. This is because ancient people believed that if they name their precious children prettily, the evil spirits will envy the children and kidnap them. This didn’t affect the children’s lives: they didn’t consider themselves to be insignificant, but instead realized how much their parents loved them when they found out that unpleasant names that were used to call them were actually false names.

Of course, the lies that parents tell us can mislead us and change our perception of the life. But I think in the bigger sense the lies of the parents are actually what make us unique, define our ethnic identies and allow us to unconsciously bequeath our ancient culture and religion.

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1 comment to Reflection: “Lies we tell kids”

  • Jessica

    I think imagining that your grandmother has become a star is beautiful. My mom told me that even though my Aunt die, she will be watching us from above. This first example and and the centipede can be seem as “lies” parent tell us. I like to interpretate these “lies” as explanations that makes sense to children. And perhaps you would agree with me, these “lies” won’t have much harm on them, because as they grow up they will probably accept the reasons behind it, naturally.

    I have a different interpretations to examples followed down the post. When your parents tell you that you will live long and be clever, I think it is more like a loving wish, which they hope to be true, rather than lying to you. Moreover, the ugly names that ancient people give to their children seems more as if parents are lying to the bad spirits than to the children.

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