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Is it Worth It To Lie to Your Child?
By Moira McMahon, Researcher
In episode 320, Second Choices, Cooper treats Oliver, a kid who likes to eat so much, his parents make him wear a hockey mask. He's not snacking on ice-cream. He's eating pillows, dirt, sand, just about anything that looks tempting—if you have Pica.
Pica is a compulsive desire to eat things that are non-nutritious. Pica can give you an appetite for paper clips, paint or clothing. It has been observed all over the world, in all classes and cultures. If someone eats things that are not harmful, such as ice chips, it's not terribly problematic. But in Oliver's case, he can't stop himself from eating poison from his garage! He ends up in the ER with terrible pain and has to have his stomach pumped.
Oliver is embarrassed about his problem and his parents are very anxious to "fix" him right away. His mother, Kelly, is especially upset. She's been hiding her own tendency to eat paper from her family. Cooper discovers her with toilet paper in her mouth and the truth is out. All this time her son thought he was alone with his Pica, while his mother suffered from it herself.
Oliver feels betrayed by his mother's lie. She, of all people, should have been more understanding.
To help Oliver, Cooper confesses that his own parents lied to him. Cooper was adopted and always thought he was his parents' only child when in fact, they had a son before him, who died. Cooper never forgave them for lying to him. He hopes that Oliver doesn't make the same mistake.
Both Oliver's mom and Cooper's parents hid the truth because they thought it was the better choice. But instead of diverting pain, they ended up hurting their children even more because they felt betrayed.
Children don't have the ability to process all the information that adults can. But does that mean it's okay to lie to them?
What do you think?