Is it OK to Lie to My Kids

Happy Friday to all of you.  I’m so pleased you have come back to my blog to read this intriging topic from a person I’ll call Joan.  As I was thinking about the answer to today’s question, I felt like I was going through a minefield.  It seemed at every turn, I would make an argument that would eventually blow up.  Hopefully though, I’ve thought this out well enough. Joan (and all of you) can make your own decisions as to whether I am correct.   

Perhaps the best way to start is to lay out my definition of a lie. Therefore, according to Dictionary.com, a lie is “A false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive.”

Joan had some good points to be considered.  She wants her children to know that lying is not the right thing to do.  I would think most of us would agree with that.  She also thought she was being hypocritical if she lied to her kids but enforced the fact that her kids should not lie.   

I may be making a bold statement but I would bet a vast majority of my readers have or will lie to their children for some reason.  For example, who places money under their child’s pillow when they loose a tooth?  How about who comes sliding down the chimney on December 25th?  Finally, who is the best parenting blog writer on the planet? (all right, I made the last one up) While I realize I have readers all over the world, I hope you get my point even if you don’t participate in these particular falsehoods.

The prior examples are what I call lies of innocence-  We tell “stories” to our children to celebrate a certain time or event on their level.  While I understand that it is still lying by definition, I don’t believe there is any harm.  Therefore, you can bet that the Easter bunny will be making a stop at my house in April. 

I was driving through Hamburg when I seen this...Image via Wikipedia

There are other lies though which aren’t so innocent.  Several months ago, I was told a story by a “friend” which really bothered me.  Basically, this person’s mother lied to my friend about who their father really is. This person didn’t find out the truth until her adult years and has understandably been very bitter since.   

In my opinion, lying and whether it is OK can be found in the circumstances.  (Now we are getting in the deep weeds because everyone has to define their own circumstances). Although I am not big into lying to children, I can certainly recognize situations as to why it is done.  Except for the lies of innocence, I’ve often told children I would rather tell the truth and hurt their feelings rather than lie.  For the most part, I’ve stuck with it over the years and haven’t regretted it yet. 

I will say that for any of us, we are taking a risk when we lie even if it is a lie of innocence.  The risk is that we will eventually be caught. If and when that happens, will the modeling we have perpetrated rub off on our kids? In other words, will they believe it is all right to lie based on what we have modeled?  Also, will our overall credibility with our kids be less?  If so, how can we teach future lessons they will listen to and follow?  Finally, as in my prior example concerning the lie about my friends dad, will the lie(s) cause severe harm to the relationship with our children?   

I’d like to believe I select my lies carefully.  While I am the guy singing the accolades about the tooth fairy, I wouldn’t tell my kids on a hot summer day, “when the ice cream man passes and his bell is ringing; that means he is all out.”  Some people may not believe there is a difference because lying is lying.  In the end, it really is a personal decision.

To sum it up for Joan, is it ok to lie to your kids?  Probably not.  But, I don’t think when my children learn the truths behind some of the little lies, it will affect them or their ability to tell the truth due to the nature of the lie. Only time will tell if I am right and that’s no lie.

On Monday, I will be throwing an education blog your way.  Over the weekend, I would like you to think of your favorite magicians/illusionists. Their “escapes” from situations are pretty amazing, aren’t they?  I’m going to compare these performers with teachers in some of your kids classrooms.

Have some fun with your family this weekend and I’ll see you Monday!

17 comments

  1. Mrs. E says:

    We have to lie to them sometimes or we would ruin all their fun and they are too young to understand the reality of the real world. Such as, drugs sex, prostitution and so on. So, you make up a little lie to preserve their innocence. When they are older they will have enough time to live in the reality of the real world. You can set an example to them about lying by not telling them small lies. :) Nice topic.

  2. Leslie says:

    Always an interesting topic — Have a great weekend!

  3. Jodie (www.allgoodin says:

    I believe there is lying to your kids, and then there is letting them enjoy the innocence of childhood. There is such magic in being a child, and I get pretty razzled about how they are forced to grow up so fast these days! I will forever sing Tooth Fairy, Santa and Easter Bunny Praises. Great topic! New Follower, thanks for stopping by my blog as well!

  4. lovebeingmummy says:

    Hello and thank you for your nice comment on my blog. Thats a lovely photo of your wife and kids.Kerry

  5. Gina Parker says:

    I am [according to my husband too] honest with my girls. While I form my answers around their understanding levels I don't misrepresent or make up words or stories to explain things. It seems like to much work to tell them one thing NOW and then have to go retell them things somewhere down the line. Much easier to build a base to grow with. However, if I do not want them to hear a truth – I will redirect them AWAY from their questions/observation. If it works, that means they were too young to hear the answer anyways. :) That said, we DO celebrate the usual childhood magic here.

  6. Felicia says:

    Ah! Haha, we must have been uploading our blog links at the same time, you just beat me 😉 Hi! I am Felicia Sheridan, I am following you from the Blog hop! I would love it if you came over and had a look at my blog! We are having SO much fun with A Blogtastic Extravaganza! There are over 13,000. Dollars in prizes! Awesome right? See you there!

  7. XLMIC says:

    LOL at your ice cream man lie! I like this post for a lot of reasons :) I am a firm believer in what I'll call disclosure. Yes, there are some topics where a small tale can help preserve some innocence…and that's a good thing. But there are others that can obscure the truth dangerously… I will answer any and all questions my kids ask about sex, drugs, prostitution, abuse, estrangement and other weighty topics in the hopes that disclosure will promote safety and good health (physical, mental, emotional).

  8. Praises from a Wife says:

    Thanks for stopping by my blog! :) GO PACK GO!!

  9. Happily Ever After A says:

    I am a new follower, but for some reason my pic is coming up as anonymous…Well, anyway :) Thanks for the comment.I don't usually lie to our kids. I feel too guilty about it, just answering questions about Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny is hard enough for me…but I did recently lie about something. :( I found my daughter's hamster dead in its cage before she woke up and I hid it. I told her that her hamster must have gotten out of the cage (like it sometimes did). I have talked about death with our girls and they have had several pets die, but for some reason I couldn't bring myself to tell her about her hamster. She loved that little guy.A few weeks later Santa brought her a new hamster.

  10. Amy says:

    Thanks for linking up to Sensational Sunday Follow. I am following you as well. And my personal opinion, I feel that "little" lies or fibs or okay – as long as they are not harmful or produce a bad outcome…the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, etc., things in that nature are harm-free and it brings them joy…so no harm done, right? lol..I really enjoy your blog.

  11. Colleen (Shibley Smi says:

    A great post indeed. We too have the Easter bunny and Santa visit if now only for my little girl. I tend to agree with the lieing theory here and choose not to. I can't think of a lie I have told my children and I often explain to them why they can and can't do things. Why it is important and the reality of it. I have not yet come to something that I have needed to stretch the truth. Or at least I don't believe I have.

  12. jamiebartley says:

    I totally understand your point of view on this. I don't lie to my kids but we do believe in Santa, the Easter bunny, and the tooth fairy.

  13. Ruth says:

    Interesting and through provoking topic… thank you for stopping by my place and following. Here to follow back.Have a great week ahead!!

  14. Kenna says:

    Thanks for following! Following back:)

  15. Puanani503 says:

    There are some things I have to tell a white lie to my children. But everything is all honesty or don't ask until you get to the right age and we'll talk about it..Great post:) I'm now following you from the MBC! Have a great week!

  16. Sue says:

    I try to be honest with my kids, but we brought them up believing in Santa, etc. And I think it's good for kids to have that growing up.Thanks for following me – following you now too.

  17. laughwithusblog says:

    I suppose you would call me a legalist. No, I don't lie about the tooth fairy or Santa. Now I'm not phobic about them either, but we "play" with the wink that tells them mom and dad are joking about this one but it's sure fun. While it may not affect many kids, I would never want my kids to question, "If mom lied about Santa, maybe she's lying about God." That's my conviction.