Temptation: As we grow up


Helen Chao

We’ve all reached for the red apple. The serpent slumbers, coiled in the shadowy recesses of consciousness. For every tentative step we take towards the apple, he slithers forward, ravenous and ready to prey on conscience in glaring daylight. The serpent hisses. Conscience falters, temptation strikes and pluck. The apple lies in our hands. The swear word uttered, the lie vocalized and the order disobeyed, as the serpent, satisfied, turns tail.

A good day’s work.

According to psychologist Dr. Sara Hyatt, we utter our first lies at 4 to 5 years old, plucking that first apple from the tree: often with an emotional motivation.

“It’s because there’s a perception [for children] that if they tell the truth, it won’t be okay,” Hyatt said. “They’ll [think] they’ll be punished, they’ll be made to feel bad, they’ll be told they’re wrong or that was stupid of you to do that.”  

Children desire a certain outcome from their lies, often twisting the truth to avoid their parent’s temper or a potential punishment. Come teenage years, however, the apples we pluck are heavier, of blatant disobedience and rebellion against our parents, the figures we previously admired for advice and approval.

“[There] is a time of slowly moving away from our parents,” Hyatt said. “When kids do things that seem like it’s more like intentionally rebellious or just being oppositional, they’re expressing the fact that they want to be different, they are different, but they’re moving towards that.”

However, Hyatt emphasizes that this rebellious nature is a transitional period of growth, with children learning to express themselves and develop a responsibility for their own decisions, be they honorable or dishonorable. Gravitating toward the latter, from lying to spare someone’s feelings or stumbling on an adult website, we have all sinned in some manner and to some degree. But, perhaps, sins aren’t meticulously plotted. They may be a momentary lapse — a cave-in to temptation.


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