Is it ever okay to lie to your children?

We all want to teach our children to be honest and trustworthy, but sometimes there are occasions when it seems like lying to them - to protect them or shield them, or else just to avoid an awkward conversation - seems best. Is it ever okay to lie to your children? If so, when?

29  Answers

65 0

My daughter is 16 and I can honestly say I've never told her a lie. I told her that I was her own personal Santa and that we can help out other Santas by giving to the toys for tots drives and what not. I told her that shots would hurt but that they were important and I told her why they were important. I told her that someone else's mommy got mad at her mommy and said they couldn't play together anymore. I even told her that I made a mistake and that her daddy and I would be getting a divorce.

Weirdly (to some), she has turned out great. And, she TRUSTS me to tell her the truth. She knows if I don't know, I will say I don't know. And, if I do know, I will tell her like it is. Of course when she was younger, I didn't tell her the whole story on everything, it's important to give your kids age appropriate information. And, it's important to teach your kids not to break the hearts of their friends by exposing the lies their parents have told them. But, I think my daughter is much better off with me telling her the truth than she would be if I lied to her whenever I thought it was more convenient to do so. YES, it makes for hard conversations sometimes but it is worth it because getting through those hard moments is what makes us closer and our bond stronger.

5
0 14

I agree with Sarah! My daughters are now 27 and 25. To this day my younger one reminds me how DEVASTATED she was when she found out that I had lied to her about Santa-the easter bunny and the tooth fairy. Some children/adults view the world in black and white. In her mind if I lied about THOSE things then I could have lied about EVERYTHING! She now has a 4yo son and she doesn't tell him about Sants but about the spirit behind the season. He knows that he has lots of people to ask for gifts if he wants something. AND he knows that he won't be disappointed when he doesn't get EVERYTHING he asks for because we are not made of money!

4 0

Leaving aside Santa and the Tooth Fairy, which are all in good fun, I try to be honest with my son. I don't think he needs to know ALL the details when he asks an awkward question, but I try to answer as clearly and with as much detail as possible given his attention span and level of understanding. If it's something I'm truly not prepared to answer, I tell him that I don't know and will have to find out (if this is indeed the case), or that it's something that's too heavy for him right now, and that we will discuss it more when he is a little older. He totally gets this.

I am also trying to teach him that you don't need to tell everyone EVERYTHING. If you hate the sweater you got for Christmas, you don't need to comment on it. You smile, say "thank you" nicely, and move on. If you think the saag paneer (a curried spinach-and-cheese dish which I really love, but no one else will eat) looks like gopher puke, you don't need to share this information. You just smile, say "no, thank you" nicely, and move on. It is much harder to get a 3-year-old to refrain from giving too much information than it is to get them to accept a partial answer.

4
5 22

Could you imagine a world without lying? Too much honesty is brutal. We even teach our children to politely lie to others when they don't like something they've seen or received. There are always boundaries with lying though. Ethics are intertwined in that and each person internalizes them at their own pace during childhood.
I have been very honest about where babies come from but still allow the Santa lie at age 6. There has to be a balance of nature and mystery/magic. They eventually begin to question those kind of beliefs that we fed into. They mature and decide they are ready to move on. My son never got mad at us for telling him there never really was a Santa or tooth fairy. He didn't even associate it as a lie.
Now some lies- the longer they remain, can destroy in the end so the parent must decide early enough how and when to confront it.
Sometimes a short lie is constructed in order to keep a child focused and calm until it is absolutely necessary to come clean. Why deal with a temper longer than you have to. For instance, if a playdate has been cancelled.
My answer is yes it is ok and it's complex. I don't know anyone who doesn't lie to some degree. watch the movie The Invention of Lying- it was a cold place before.

3
0 0

sometimes we all have to twist the truth a little with our children... my sons father and i arent together(which i for the better) but when he askes me mommy do you love my daddy and is he your bestfriend as much as i want to tell him no i really cant stand your father and things he does to hurt your feelings and the broken promises i just tell him yes hunny i like daddy and him and mommy are friends! it is better sometime to protect your child i some sense then to hurt them.

2
107 20

I have read all the responses so far and they all sound like good advice. Example situation
1. My 3 yr old saw that her 6 mo brother has something different and asked what it was. I told her that he is a boy and that is how he pees. She just smiled and ran off. On this topic it will be over the next (many) yrs that details will come out. Not lying just not all the info
2. My DH and I are having an issue with the family next door. They have 3 boys that our girls played with all summer and we have been friends with, going to bday parties, pool parties etc... Now after they have made it clear they have issues with the whole block and don't want to have any part with anyone the kids can't play together. To me this is an adult issue that the kids wouldn't understand anyway and I think would hurt them to tell them that the boys Grandma says no to them playing together. At 1st there was questions and can they play together.... I just told them the boys were busy or that we had plans etc... and made plans for us. After a wk they haven't asked about he boys.
Anyway I think part info for the age group or lying (stretching the truth) to protect them is needed. I can't actually think of a situation where we would lie to them like we did when we were teens and telling our parents we were at our girl friends house when we were at our boy friends.

2
54 15

of course there are. Suppose you are asked about things you did in your past that you do not want them to know. What about Grown up issues they are not ready for. Even Santa Clause.. Kids do not need to know everything, nor should they. There are many times in their lives when it is actually best to not tell the truth or avoid the issue. It is up to you, your morals and values. it isn't always about honesty alone. And you can still teach them that, with out spilling everything they don't need to know or are just too young for.

2
0 0

I never thought that I was lying when I allowed my kids to believe in Santa,the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. All 3 of my kids are now in their 30's and are amazingly empathetic,intelligent,giving adults.
I am going to have to ask them if they were upset with me for perpetrating the myth........I think the best time of my life was when I was innocent enough to believe that reindeer could fly.

1
0 0

Yes it is. As long as it doesn't hurt anyone, don't forget, there is a thing called lying by omission. So thinking that your not lying by holding back on details, isn't being entirely honest either. Still a lie.

I have a very sick child, and there are times when the truth is essential and holding back on the truth is crucial. For treatment, recovery, and morale.

Santa, Easter bunny and the tooth fairy were a wonderful part of my childhood growing up, and I shared the same lie with my children and they are wonderful, well behaved loving human beings.

When is lying not okay when it is to get out of trouble, to hide something wrong or to be vicious.

1
0 15

we try to teach our children to tell the truth all the time but if we notice that we dont want to hang out or go to work we come up with lies so are we really trying to tell our children that it ok for us to do it but not them what kind of standard are we setting for them so be truthful in know that they always going to be watching you for guideness

1
9 0

From personal experience, I can't say telling lies to a child is appropriate. My granddaughter (at age 3) asked me why her daddy wasn't at home with her. In my conscience, I couldn't lie to her, so I told her the truth, as painful for her as it was. Her daddy didn't leave because he didn't love her, he left because he loved doing drugs. This is what I told her and my sister was beside herself because I didn't make up some BS story "age appropriate" to tell her. I didn't mention to her that her daddy was an idiot that loved drugs, having a girlfriend, and doing everything in his useless life that made my daughter miserable. Well, my granddaughter cried for about 10 minutes, crawled on my lap, and asked if it were true that her daddy did love her, but just loved taking drugs more. When I said yes, she said ok, and went on to have a great time playing. That was the end of it until her daddy called my house when she was 5. She answered and said (ok this was shocking even for me), "You can't be my daddy. My daddy died to me when I was a year old, because he loved drugs more than me." 11 years later, he still doesn't know what a joy that child is and I don't regret not lying to her.

1
0 10

well, we lie about Santa Claus, the tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny......so i guess in those instances its okay? lol

1
3 20

Santa Claus... Easter Bunny.... Toothfairy.... they are all lies and most of us tell our children they are true... it will eventually come back ...

1
2 7

Honestly, I think it is ok depending on what it is. Of course there is Santa, the Toothfairy. I have three children and have told them things that I felt is the right way to explain things. I have never told them a lie that could somehow hurt them or anyone else. I personally think there are times for white lies and there are times for the truth. I understand both sides of this question though, this is my opinion.

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1,867 0

There are certainly times when it makes sense to lie. Parents need to be careful though. A lot of parents lie not for the benefit of the children, but for their own benefit. Parents tell themselves that they're shielding their child, but they're really trying avoid something they're not comfortable with. Similarly, a lot of people abuse the truth. They tell the truth to clear their own conscience, but only burden others in the process.

0
10 0

Aside from Santa and the Tooth Fairy, I tried very hard not to lie to my kids. Only when it was absolutely necessary did I completely make something up in order to keep them from knowing the truth, otherwise I just kept some information out. For example, a close family friend of ours ended up getting in trouble and going to jail, when they asked where he was I just told them that he had to go away for a while as a punishment for something he did. I just didn't include all the bad details.

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1

If it's to protect them I think it's fine my kids dad got accessed of raping and beating a girl so he couldn't see the kids when the kids asked were he we're I told them he were a jockey and worked away it did effect there behaviour but the fine after a day or two ( kids dad don't live with them)

Amandah

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216 0

I do think it's okay to tell little white lies. I mean Santa, tooth fairy and Easter Bunny are all lies but they don't hurt anyone and it's done for their entertainment and fun.
I also think sometimes it's okay to lie to them if the truth will really hurt them.

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8 0

I don't think it is ever OK to lie to children. I think it is better to give just enough information. I think children are better off learning morals and decision-making from adults who are honest and are respectful of children.

If a family wants to include Santa or the Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy, this can be done in such a way that these are presented as traditions and beliefs that some people hold. It can be presented as myth/literature/fantasy, just as one might speculate with a child about gnomes or fairies, but isn't (hopefully) presenting it as absolute fact that fairies are entering the house and making things happen. Our family doesn't do any of these traditions (we're Jewish...) but we approach religion in the same way, in that we teach that these are nice stories, they've been important to many people around the world, they can be comforting and the basis of many meaningful traditions, but we don't present them as literally true.

I want my children to be critical thinkers and know the difference between fact and fiction, while also appreciating that mythology and fantasy have their place.

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1 0

It's not ok to lie to anyone about anything..

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37 0

It should be when its something they don't need to know or maybe they need to know when they get older. Its not bad lying to them. Ya its not good and you will maybe hurt. But don't do it a lot of times, only the times that they don't need to know or know yet. Sometimes you have to lie its going to hurt but sometimes its the best.

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3 0

I know everyone lies to some extent. I do know this world is full of liers, not one can tell the honest truth about anything. haven three kids and now in the future have two stepchildren and a grandchild on the way. the only thing you can really do is tell them your thought about anything they ask, be honest to best you know how. show them if you have to what you know about what they ask and tell them what will happen if they choice to not to the right thing. all you can do is be there for them when they fall to pick them up and dust them off. don't be afraid to tell tell the truth about thing. you wouldn't want them to start telling you lie about what they have done or not done? so think about what you say or how to tell them before you answer you give them an answer.

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3 0

It is never okay to lie to your children. If you lie, they will lie. That is not good. If telling them the truth about something that would hurt them, be careful how you tell them. Make sure they are old enough to understand what you are telling them. Sometimes it seems easier if you lie to them but what happens when they discover the truth, they will no longer tell you the truth and you lose there trust.

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0 36

I dont lie to my children. If they ask i tell them honestly. I had to many lies told me as a child and i was so confused to what was right and wrong. They might not like the answer but its always best to tell the truth. Liers get fount out. xxx

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7 20

It is never right ot lie and it only teaches them that lying is okay if you justify it. lying teaches them not to trust you. This is how I taught my children not to lie - I explained that once you have lied - everything you say from then on is subject to the fact you once lied so how does one know you are telling the truth now - so how can anyone ever believe anything you say agian. I have always been truthful with my daughter. When she had to have surgery as a child I prepped her with the truth, about what was going to happen and why. She was probably the only 4 year who sat quietly thru having her blood draw out of her arm with only one tear, no tantrum, no need to bolted down. Its much easier to couch the truth in simple terms they can understand. You don't shield them from anything - if they can't believe what you say. The awkward conversation you wish to avoid is only awkward for you - they want to know or they wouldn't have ask. Be happy your child trusts you enough to ask you and not the kid down the street. Never - ever lie. Be kind, but be truthful. Remember when your friend ask you about her dress and you think its hideous - you are the one who thinks its hideous - she obviously liked it so simply say - well, its not my style. What do you really like about it? and go from there. Apply the same logic to your childs questions.

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79 37

I think I've always been honest with my children who are now 9 & 6; they even know there's no father Christmas, tooth fairy etc. I feel that if you lie to your children too much or keep a lie going, your children might not respect you if and when they find out the truth. I'm not saying that all lies are wrong because there are some lies you might need to tell to protect your child but I believe honesty is the best policy as best as you can.

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0 0

I don't lie to my children either. If they ask m a question, I answer honestly. I will do that for anyone. Honesty IS the BEST policy, even if the truth hurts sometimes. And no, we don't do SC, EB or TF either. I will say that we did it for the first few years of my oldest sons life but then I was greatly convicted at the elaborate lie that I was telling so I stopped. It felt like rocks in the pit of my stomach, not like some fun childhood tradition. I want my kids to always trust that what I say to them is the truth as I know it. Period.

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0 3

I don't think it is ever okay to lie to your kids. Whenever, you tell your kids a lie even to "protect" them you are doing the opposite because you are teaching them that you are a liar and its okay to lie. You are also teaching them that you are a hypocrite and untrustworthy.

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6 3

No it is not okay to lie to our children. I never told our children there was a Santa, Easter Bunny, etc. If they heard it and thought there was it was there own thinking and when they realized there was none very soon they were fine with it. I don't think we always have to go into details or tell them things they don't understand but if they ask I don't think we should ever lie. You could even say you will tell them when they are older, or tell them part of it that they can understand, but I don't think we should ever lie....unless of course we want children who lie and then I guess it's okay and they shouldn't be punished, right?

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1 0

Yes it is definitely okay to lie to children from time to time. I liken it to parents who may snoop through their kids' room or check the history on their computers or even creating dummy facebook profiles to know what's going on with them. It's almost a necessary evil especially where protection or trying to get to the bottom of a situation is concerned.

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