The Lies We Tell Our Children

We tell our kids all the time that it’s wrong to lie, but we totally do it, especially to them. Sometimes it’s a matter of survival, sometimes it’s letting them believe in magic, and sometimes it’s just fun to mess with them.

Long nose

Stranger Danger
When my son Zach and his friend would leave the house and go out onto the front stoop, I would warn Zach that it wasn’t safe. He’d ask, “Why?” and I’d tell him that sometimes people do bad things, like they might want to bring him home and have him live with them instead. I chose not to use the word “kidnap” because I didn’t want to scare him, and I certainly didn’t want to tell him how strangers sometimes harm children. Perhaps this is less of a lie than a particular way of phrasing things, but it certainly made sense not to explain this in too much detail.

No Batteries
Some toys ought to be recalled not for safety reasons, but because they’re frickin’ cruel to parents. We got a Pooh ride-on train that as soon as the batteries got even slightly less than fully charged, would blast a train whistle sound. This happened at 2 o’clock in the morning. Naturally, we took the batteries out and told Zach the batteries died, and we just couldn’t replace them.

Sex Ed
Sometimes I just don’t feel like explaining things to my kids, especially when we’re in the car. I get distracted very easily while driving so I agree to whatever they’re saying. One morning there was condensation on the windows. The kids asked about it, and I explained how the cold air made water collect on the windows. Zach started saying, “Condensation, condenz,” then “condoms.” He asked, “Mom, what are condoms?” I said, “They’re a form of protection,” and started talking about something else.

Ice Cream Carts and Trucks
Whenever guys with ice cream carts come through the park, I tell Kaylee that they just walk around playing music for the kids. I tell her the same thing when the ice cream truck drives around and around our neighborhood.

One of my favorite lies was told by my friend. She told her son when he was a preschooler, “If you hit me one more time, Elmo won’t be your friend anymore!” Another friend told her daughter that the GPS on her Android phone works by communicating with “Google elves,” who tell her where to go.

I think most of us have threatened to put our kids on eBay, sell them to the circus, or leave them on the sidewalk with a “FREE” sign, but the kids figure out quickly that we’re bluffing. There’s also the “Oh, we can’t go to that store/playground/amusement park because it’s closed.” If their friend is able to stay longer somewhere fun and Zach asks, “Why do they get to stay longer?” I like to say, “Well, so-and-so’s parents don’t love them as much as I love you.”

I never would have thought that lying would be part of good parenting, but just like you should “pick your battles,” I believe we should “lie through our teeth if it gets the job done.”

What lies do you tell your kids?

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