Gavin Foster
Gavin Foster

Enough of this ‘parenting’ nonsense — raise your kids on lies!

If it were up to me, every single book ever written about “parenting” would be burnt and its author shot. I brought my kids up by following three basic maxims: never make a threat you can’t keep, always treat children like ordinary little people, and lie to them as much as you can — that’s easy when they still believe you’re God.

The third rule I found particularly useful because it taught my offspring not to believe everything they heard. My son spent six months of his most formative years cheerfully calling the things that sing from the treetops “fish” until his mother worked out what he was saying and whence he’d got it. Still, there’s been no lasting damage — he’s a 25-year-old chemical engineer now, and when anybody invites him on an angling trip he borrows a fishing rod, not a shotgun. Alan also eventually worked out that you don’t really have to wait until your parking meter expires before you leave your bay — when he was about six we once sneakily decided that as there were no traffic cops lurking outside Pinetown library we’d take a chance and scarper rather than wait 15 minutes. It was really bonding to be so wicked together.

It’s essential that when you lie to children you don’t tell them the truth afterwards — the educational value lies in letting the little sods work it out for themselves. My very upright sister once brought her precious little daughter to Durban on holiday, and I invited the four-year-old, who’d only met me about twice before, to accompany me to the tearoom. As we left my driveway she sternly instructed me to put on my seatbelt. I told her I wouldn’t, so she threatened to tell her mother. “Then I’ll have to kill you,” I fired back. After a short silence she whispered “OK — I won’t tell her then”. Alex is now in her late teens, and I don’t know if the nightmares have stopped, but I reckon her solid understanding of how much men detest unsolicited advice from females will stand her in good stead in adult life.

Apart from making your life simpler and teaching your kids how to think for themselves, you can also save money by deceiving the little swine. When I took my lot out in the car I’d promise to buy them a straw if they behaved. Then we’d stop at the corner shop on the way home and pick up milk, bread, and whatever else we needed, along with two straws from the counter. I’ve no idea what they thought straws cost — R5.00 seems to ring a bell — but to them it was a real treat to vacuum up a glass of Oros through theirs when we got home. That meant as much to them as a trip to Disney World did to some other kids. The trick was in not spoiling them by doing it too often …

Kids are much more robust than the cretins who write all those parenting books realise, and sharper, with far better developed senses of humour than they’re given credit for. Bring them up with love ‘n lies and they’ll work out just fine. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

  • Daddy

    Awesome article!! Very similar to what George Carlin would say, thanks for the laughter!

  • pete ess

    Love it! Waiting for the PC response. Duck!!

  • Judith

    I suppose you also told them that the ice-cream van had run out of ice-cream when it played its tune? My best was tell mine to to scream louder as I couldn’t hear them properly and I still have a strong urge (sometimes realised) to do the same to other people’s screaming children!

  • Christo van Staden

    Great advice, I love this!

  • Carla Bauer

    Love it, love it! As pete ess says, brace yourselves for the PC’s …!

  • mel card

    thank God you left the Spoooooorweg for better pastures. You are an awesome writer!!!

  • Vaughn

    I can vouch for the quirky Foster. He once told my 4 year old girl that ice cream made her grumpy. She’s 19 now,and still gets grumpy when eating the occasinal ice cream.
    Especially when the name’Gavin’ is mentioned.
    Really works. Thanks Gav.

  • Nosimilo

    Totally wicked :-)

  • firefly

    So Gavin, what brings you to comment on parenting books as your children are now adults? Is it possible that your children are investing in some parenting books as they dont want to bring up their children on the same bullshit that they were brought up on?

  • chez

    Ha ha, wonderful article amongst all the gloom and doom. I told my kids that the car wouldn’t go if their seatbelts weren’t on and they believed it for a surprisingly long time. Thanks for the laugh, kids need to know that the world does not revolve around them and too may books place kids at the top of the totem pole. I have often told mine that our home is a dictatorship and not a democracy. Hey they learnt some politics as well!!

  • NCUM

    Very funny,until I was 12yrs old my aunt would send me to get something when she wanted to gossip with my mother,she would tell me that she is going to write every tidbit on the wall,this would take me quickly out of the room in anticipation of all the mgosi that would be waiting for me.It still cracks me up even now to think how I used to believe every excuse she came up with,and time and time again I would expect mgosi on the wall.

  • RandomNumberZero


  • Vrye Denker

    I LOL’ed.

    “I reckon her solid understanding of how much men detest unsolicited advice from females will stand her in good stead in adult life. ”

    Solid Gold.

  • radiodave

    hilarious. nice one!

  • Sipho Hlongwane

    Very entertaining.

    Some of the best memories I have as a kid were adults feeding me a line of fibs. :)

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  • Gavin Foster

    @ Firefly
    God, I hope not. What a failure that would be..
    Good luck with your brood

  • MLH

    Loved it! A man after my own heart…
    Not that I lied or fibbed much, of course, but we both definitely knew who was boss.
    I told him if he learnt to cope with me, he’d easily cope with everyone else; it worked!
    Today, he cracks up when I asked little children who bother me: ‘Did your mother never teach you not to speak to stangers?’

  • little Ru

    ha ha! my mom would always tell me that children melt in town and that was her excuse not taking me shopping with her. and i beleived her for so long! she had some peaceful shopping moments.

  • MrsMac

    @ Judith, ice cream truck? What ice cream truck? My kids believed it was The Music Truck for years and years 😀

    Stunning Gav.