Truth vs. Happiness of Children

This is a very serious topic which I’m hoping to cover in a future hangout with my vegan pals like Poffo and Guyus. A situation happened where I was playing Minecraft with one of my mom’s piano students. He was playing on his iPad and I on my computer. While we’re building things in Minecraft he starts talking about his dog. Somewhere in the conversation he made a statement that “everybody loves dogs”. Because I was playing the game and because I speak to him the way I do anyone else, I simply corrected him by telling him: “Not everyone, in China they boil them alive and eat them.”. He freaked out a little bit at the time but I didn’t say any more about it. However, my mom thinks I should not have said it to him because he’s a child and is not ready to be traumatized by the truth of the world.

Now of course I’m going to try not to bring up such things when he comes over to play video games with me, but only because I don’t want bad results to come from it. I don’t want any trouble with my mom or his parents if he mentions something I’ve said to them.

At the same time, there wasn’t anything false about what I said either. Perhaps the timing was bad but at the same time I personally don’t believe that there is anything wrong with pointing out that it simply is not true that everybody loves dogs. Many kill them and/or abuse them in other ways. I have talked with Jamie about this as well and of course he finds it terrible but at the same time I can speak to him as an adult and not worry about what his parents think.

So my mom may have a point in that I can’t just talk to kids the same way as I do adults. But still this makes me deeply uncomfortable because in my mind I see it as a sort of discrimination if I am to carefully calculate what I can and cannot say to someone just because they are a kid and might be traumatized by something.

The issue here is that I’m not the bad guy for telling someone, whoever they are, for telling the truth about what is done to dogs or any other animals. The people causing the problem are those actually doing the harm to those animals.

But I am deeply worried now because of this. I fear that I may need to avoid children as much as possible because I won’t know which things I can say that their parents approve of or not. I can’t read people’s minds like neurotypical people seem to be able to do.

I also learned something else from this experience. I should never be a parent. In the past I’ve often dreamed about someday adopting someone assuming I was retired and wealthy enough to do so. However if I have to spend the rest of my life worrying about what I can say to them or not, then it’s just something I can’t do. Additionally since it’s pretty much guaranteed that I would be a single parent, a child would be better off being adopted by another family than me.

This makes me very sad in a strange way. I’ve often thought about how much good it can do to adopt someone and I’ve often mentioned in podcasts why people should be adopting children rather than producing new ones, but just because it’s something good to do does not mean that I personally am equipped for such a task.

I see now that a person who constantly tells the truth is a threat to the short time of happiness that children can have.

Author: chandlerklebs

I have unusual thoughts on almost every subject. I am as Pro-Life as I can possibly be. I am strongly opposed to violence of any type. That includes rape, war, and (obviously) abortion. Everything I think, speak, and write must be filtered by the effect it could have on the lives of others. If I am in any way promoting violence accidentally, please let me know.

5 thoughts on “Truth vs. Happiness of Children”

  1. Interesting post! First and foremost, what we should and shouldn’t tell children or any other human is and will forever remain a delicate art form. It will never be a perfect science. Even the best parents make mistakes but usually know when to forgive themselves. My own parents still apologize to me for mistakes they may have made when raising me and my siblings. I always tell them that they are completely forgiven, because it wasn’t their fault that they didn’t know all the answers, perfectly. I assured them that they did a very good job under all the circumstances and that I recognize and appreciate the fact that they were always trying to do their best. As the Shaolin monks have warned, just because you accidentally bend a nail while hammering doesn’t mean you should lose faith in all nails. In other words, you may have goofed and spoke too much truth with the piano student, but don’t completely lose faith in your ability to know how to interact with children or others in general. We will all continue to make such mistakes. I’m sure I made a similar mistake, myself, only yesterday and will likely do so again by tomorrow, but I will continue to try to spread truth the best way I know how. It’s like trying to walk a balance beam. How much is too much and how little is too little. We have to try to finesse it, always.

    In terms of this particular incident that you described, it depends on how old this child is and on his level of maturity. Some people mature faster than others. For instance, a twelve year old can be very wise and insightful, whereas a thirty year old can be emotionally and mentally immature and literally have the mind of a child. I only partially agree with the old expression, “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil,” because sometimes we have to learn things we’d rather not, or be exposed to painful truths, consider them to be necessary growing pains. However, it may very well be that this piano student is too young to hear such truth at his tender young age. It may be too much too soon, in which case, I would have to agree with your mother. We all have to be careful not to overwhelm the minds of children or even naïve adults. People should be cautiously taught in the courts of their own personal fitness to learn. I’ve expressed this view to Poffo and others on occasion. I even go so far as to say it is sometimes necessary and beneficial to lie to a child in order to aid in their development. When a father performs a magic trick for his children, it is a form of lying, a level of dishonesty or misdirection, but it is quite harmless and can help educate or exercise their minds and entertain them as well. I even think it’s perfectly fine to ‘temporarily’ tell make-believe stories about fictitious characters like Santa Clause or the Easter Bunny, to a point, but when a child starts to seriously question such holiday mythology, then I believe parents need to drop the act and reward their children’s inquisitive minds with the truth.

    I believe there is such a thing as too much truth or too much honesty. For example, volunteering to tell someone that you think they’re ugly or forcing a child to watch a beheading by religious cults in the Middle East. Not long ago, I voiced concerns to Poffo that the visual presentations displayed during those Cube of Truth demonstrations by Anonymous for the Voiceless could be too graphic for young children and may even turn many adults away, because that level of truth is just too much too soon. It can backfire and cause the opposite effect. It causes them to shut out that truth and leave, having learned nothing. At the same time, we have to be careful not to over shelter and over protect children and/or adults, either. Both extremes are detrimental to their development. Again, it’s a delicate balancing act which we will all spend the rest of our lives trying to finesse and improve upon.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Guyus, it really helps. Perhaps it doesn’t mean I can never talk to children but the situation is hard to balance. I’m not balanced at all because I am completely sided with truth no matter how much happiness might be obtained with temporary lies. If we’re lucky, the kid will forget about what I said.

      That being said, I wish there had been someone to tell me the truth when I was a kid because it would have resulted in me going vegan years sooner. No matter how much personal pain it has caused me to know that I’ve contributed to the murder of animals, it’s much better to know so that I can do things differently.

  2. I forgot to mention one other very important point, Chandler. One can water down the truth so as not to abandon it all together. So I’m glad you made efforts to express some needed truth to this young lad, that not everyone loves dogs. It just may be that you needed to water it down a little bit to make it less ‘potentially’ harmful or running the risk of interfering with your mother’s teacher-student relationship and her business or upsetting his parents. But again, knowing how much is too much is a tricky thing. Just keep trying to exercise that skill and I will do the same.

  3. I agree with Guyus that what we should and should not say to children, like the extent to which our freedom of speech ought to be protected, raises many questions. However, we always need to keep in mind the cost of Not telling children about certain evils in the world, evils which they, as actual or potential moral agents, can do something about; and it seems to me that the risk of upsetting some children (and their parents) is, on the whole, outweighed by the potential gains. Of course, How we inform children about certain evils requires sensitivity, and this is true for older people as well. At that point, it’s a question of How to educate others on important matters, not whether we should or shouldn’t.

    I too think adoption is extremely important, and have from time to time considered the difficulties in raising a human child. There is, however, an important alternative, one which you have likely considered, namely adopting (nonhuman) animals.


    1. Adopting nonhuman animals is definitely easier because I never have to worry about what things I tell them or not because it’s unlikely they will ever need to be concerned with knowing what’s happening in the world. No reason for them to know about the suffering of other animals because there isn’t much they could do about it unlike the humans who are the target audience for all the information. They can do something and so I agree, the risk of not telling them is great.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s