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My son is only 2, so I haven't dealt with this much. Though I JUST finished reading the chapter "Why Kids Lie" from the book Nurtureshock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. It's pretty interesting what their research showed about kid's lying. Basically all of our kids are little liars because we're teaching them to lie by example and we praise them for telling us what we want to hear rather than telling us the truth. They also discuss at length that children can't tell the difference between white lies and big lies. So you're risking their trust even with the little ones.

Ask Moxie is doing a weekly discussion about the book, you can see the discussion about lying here:


Whatever though, my son likes chicken so any meat on his plate is "chicken". When he figures out I'm lying he can suck it. Baby can not live on blueberries alone.

White lies are okay, as far as I'm concerned. Especially when it's for a kid's good, or when the truth would be more upsetting than a lie. However, since you know you're bad at telling lies, I would keep it to a minimum. My mom is so transparent when she lies, and my brother and I figured out very early when she wasn't telling the truth. My brother is very perceptive and I have a good memory, so he would be able to read her, and I would remember when the shop actually closed. That said - I don't have any children yet, so... there you go.

Ja, it's okay ... I think they get to an age when they're mature enough to be told "Mom forgot, I made a mistake" and they can accept that. But when they're still fairly young, sometimes a little white lie is better all round!! And you're honest with the big stuff. You know?

I do both (tell little white lies and tell the truth) depending on how I think he will react or if he needs to accept it. Most of the time I do tell the truth or omit information. When I tell the truth, such as there are no more treats, I just say no and that is that. As for omitting info, I do not say there is a real Santa or Tooth Fairy. We read books, watch the shows and allow him to come to his own conclusions. When he asks I turn the question around and ask him what he believes and then I agree by saying that some people do believe that. As for the white lie there are a couple of times I have felt exactly like you and pray when he looks into my eyes he cannot tell.

I do have a consistent white lie I tell often. Our little one makes me a super sandwich of pickle relish between a piece of slice cheese folded in half. ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLE!!! It is the squeeze bottle relish and tastes horrid, my hubby buys the nasty stuff. I have to make yummy sounds and really fake the faces. I started offering the little one a bite just so I did not have to eat it all. Then I pretend how full I am so he does not make me another one. Poor thing, I can see the pride he feels when I eat it. I have to lie.

I think it's okay, it's for a limited time anyway. wait one year, and your 6 year old will find out when the shop is open. Just pay attention, 6 year olds sometimes know more than you realize *sigh*. ;-)

I would probably not lie but mostly because I'm an atrocious liar also. Some things are probably good to stick to the truth, you know, to breed "character" also known as cultivating an earthshaking tantrum (e.g. the cookie thing - just tell them no more cookies for you, suck it up! Laugh, let's talk when I get there). But to pack up a whole bunch of kids and go to an exhausting shop expedition when you're at your end - that is just a good place to rather promise for the next day (but then keep the promise, as when it doesn't happen, I swear, they will remember until the day you die, I know I still do). I guess best is not to ever commit to ANYTHING - just use the words "if there is time", "let's see", "maybe" in total abundance all the time??? So the times there is a promise, it can be kept?

My honest opinion? White lies are an absolute must to live in society, sometimes even other type of lies are necessary too... even if it is hard to admit... We parents preach the need for sincerity, and that is okay, and we should try to be a good example of that to our kids, when telling the truth involves being brave, admiting fault so you can improve or take responsability, defending others, standing by your values, rights... that sort of thing... in any other case I don´t see it as so important... and I also think that giving kids negative feedback for liying to us is okay, so they learn to lie better next time, a critical survival tool for human beings ;-)

Not, really, sorry for my English, I hope the irony and semi humor of what I intended to say it is clear... basically, what i think is that like most things in life it is complicated... and there are a lot of grey areas.

PS: Go Furia Roja!!! We will win the worldcup! :-)

No... I don't think it's a good idea. It's their reaction that you are trying to avoid. Their disappointment in you for forgetting. Teach them by example that sometimes it's OK to fail, it happens, and then you have to face the music! Of course I don't have any children and who am I to sit on my high horse. But that's my idealistic, sitting on the sidelines approach for now (might change if I ever get pregnant).

Lies are sometimes needed to keep mothers sane and children behaving. So is bribery and corruption!

I have taken to bribing my two year old with smarties. As in, please stop playing with all the light switches/levers/buttons in mommy's car and get out now sweetheart...smarties!!! (rattles box - and gloats as 2yr old obliges and gets out of car). This has become the way things are done. Yes I knew that this would come back to bite me in the backside but at this stage I'm beyond caring.

So this morning to get him into the car (he baulked because daddy wasn't taking him this morning, and he didn't want to go in my car) and I said, "Smarties!" and then forgot to put them in my pocket. So once he's securely strapped in and we're on our way, he begins his mantra of "maaaarteeeesss mommy, maaaaarteeeees mommy!" and I was trying to make every excuse in the book. Then he fell silent, and I was like, OMG THE GUILT! I LIED TO MY CHILD!!! THE GUILT! THE GUILT! and I swear I could hear the penny dropping in his brain, that *sometimes mommy says one thing and does another...* and I'm sure he was filing this away for later use as a teenager...

Ha! Ashlee, thanks for the link because now I don't have to do it myself.

Yeah, we've been working through the NurtureShock book a chapter every Friday, and the lying one was interesting. They made a few points simultaneously: all kids lie to look better or make you proud of them, parents can very rarely tell when their own kids are actually lying (that stings me to hear), lies are necessary for society to function.

But the one I thought was most interesting was that for kids, they can't tell the difference between a lie (you say something that isn't true) and a situation that doesn't work out (you say something and then through no fault of your own it ends up not happening). The example I gave on my summary of the chapter was that you tell your kid you'll see her friend at the playground, and then the friend gets sick and doesn't come--to your kid, you lied, even though you had no control over what happened.

Which means, basically, that in the colouring-in book (US translation: coloring book) situation, if you said you'd get one and then you don't, no matter what you say to them, they receive it as if you lied to them. So saying "the store is closed" or "I'd like to finish reading this article in Vanity Fair magazine* so we're not going today" IS EXACTLY THE SAME TO THEIR LITTLE HEADS because they were told they'd get the colouring-in book but then they didn't.

So, Tertia wins. And so does Marko. Goal!

My favorite lie of all time: A friend wanted her daughter to start drinking soy milk but the daughter refused, so my friend told her it was elephant milk.

* I do not actually read Vanity Fair magazine.

I think it's better to tell the truth even in these small things because then you are not doing the thing you will be punishing them for when they do it. And I think the kids have to learn to deal with disappointment and plans changing. I understand, my kids are also 5.5 years old, but I just tell them what happened...for example, "oh no! We didn't go to the store today. Mommy forgot all about it. Can you remind me tomorrow so we can go then?" That engages them in the process and gives them an important job to do towards getting what they want the next day.

If they then start whining and want to go NOW, I just say, "we can't go now, sorry. It's too late today, but we can go tomorrow." It's not too early to learn coping skills. One of my kids handles disappointment pretty well but the other one melts down. We just cope with it and if he is really acting out, he gets to take a time out or go to his room. It happens 10 times per day anyway. I feel like I might as well not add lying to my list of sins with him...he has so many other grievances.

Why do you even have to lie in this situation? Why don't you just say "We will go tomorrow to get it."? If a 5-year-old can throw a fit about wanting it NOW, the REASON for why they can't have it doesn't really matter, does it? They are going to be irrational about it anyway (as they are prone to be at that age). So skip the lying and just tell them what's what. Problem solved.

I'm not anti the white lie, except when it comes to my kids. Socially the white lie can smooth uncomfortable or potentially uncomfortable situations. With my kids though, I need them to know no matter what no matter when they will always get the truth from me. It's not easy and often painful (mostly for me, sometimes them) but I hope it pays off when they're teenagers and I need them to be honest in return. My two favorite examples of honesty being rather painful for me:

We had always told our children that Santa was just a wonderful part of celebrating Christmas, and not necessarily a real person. Around Christmastime during my son's first year of school he came home called us liars and told us that Santa was real and we had no idea what we were talking about.

The second (also with my oldest, now 10) was recently when he was watching the first Transformers movie and he saw the scene where they talked about masturbation.

I would have said, "I didn't realize it had gotten so late, we'll get it tomorrow." But, I would really try my hardest to do that.

What is a colouring in book as opposed to a coloring book? LOL

I can't tell you what to do. But what I did was suck it up say I'm sorry and that we would fix it the next day. My son is now 18-1/2 and we are all very close and are truthful with each other. And no I'm not sticking my head in the sand. He rather hang out with he old fart parents then with his buddie a majority of the time.

I don't think I'd lie (I don't lie now) but then again my kids are 1 (yesterday!!!). And I did lots of things this year I said I would never do - rushed to them to prevent lots of crying so they wouldn't wake sister/ brother; let them sleep with us, etc, etc.

Ok, I know it's easy for me to say because I don't have kids and don't have to deal with the actual consequences, but my opinion is that the kind of lies you are talking about really aren't ok. I wouldn't say never ok, but very very very rarely ok.

The trust I have with my parents is the rock of our relationship. Doesn't matter if it's a big thing or a little thing, I KNOW they will tell me the truth. And they know that I will tell them the truth. Doesn't matter how much it hurts, the truth always hurts less than knowing or finding out you've been lied to by someone you trust. And doesn't everyone always say that kids are more perceptive than you'd ever imagine? They figure stuff out. And you don't want to have that conversation with them when they're 13 and you're trying to explain why your little lies in the past were different than them lying to you now.....

My children would react the same to "The store is closed" as they would to "I'm sorry but I had forgotten and it's too late" Because they know both answers are firm.

It may feel easier to be a softy but it isn't. It's actually so much KINDER to be firm. My children know that I mean what I say. They don't have to waste energy throwing fits, whining and pleading. I think it would cause constant hard feelings, theirs and mine, if that happened often. And I truly believe that "caving in" creates spoilt, selfish adults. We need to learn that the world doesn't revolve around our wants, desires and emotions. The sooner the better.

Let your no MEAN no. Initially you'll have a battle on your hands but eventually parenting will be much easier. Less crying, less whining, less drama. There WILL be times in your child's life when obeying you will mean the difference between life or death. Do them a favor and discipline them properly. Don't let your issues become theirs.

I've been in your shoes with my older boys. I've come a loooong way. I have four children and over the last two years we've had an additional 9 foster children.

I meant to add that if you teach your children to be obedient, there isn't a need to lie. I'm not saying that my loves don't have fits but they are far and few.

you're not dealing w/adults or older/mature kids that can be 'rational'... I think white lies are just fine sometimes!!

I'm glad you checked in and gave your summary Moxie! You did it so much better than I did.

my oldest kid (now 27) is STILL very pissed off with/hurt me about lies i told to try and protect her, but also to try and protect MYSELF from her reaction - lies i told FOURTEEN years ago. i wish i had told the truth and just sucked up her response. she agrees. it did our relationship terrible hurtful damage. and SHE went on to lie about things, also to protect herself from other people's responses. dealing with that was worse than dealing with the actual consequences.

because of this hindsight, with my now 2 3/4 year old, i DO 'evade' some straight talking - again, to make it easier for me, but I am NOW really careful - because i don't want to teach her that it is ok to lie just to stay outa trouble. i say, just tell the truth (if you have to actually speak), and handle their responses. sometimes you can deflect them from the topic (yeah, good luck with that!). she has to learn that you make mistakes, and also that sometimes you, and other people, are going to disappoint her. that's life.

mind you: i saw a really good definition of diplomacy today that might help you decide HOW to tell the truth. 'diplomacy is telling someone to go to hell in such a way that they REALLY LOOK FORWARD TO THE TRIP' . . .


Yes, I have been known to use small lies like the one about the shop being closed to keep children from freaking out. I think it's necessary to keep the peace sometimes.

I lie all the time. 'Daddy is just tickling Mommy.....no, YOU don't need to be naked if you want your back tickled'. Some lies are a necessity!

We don't deliberately lie to the kids - white lies or otherwise.
Having said that, in the heat of the moment, I am sure I have lied to them.
I seem to bribe a lot as well.

I am guilty of the same thing. My four year old watches me like a hawk and if I forget small things like getting her a book, she'd be really upset. I have learned that as she grew older, these lies don't quite work anymore. Aside from feeling guilty after, my daughter has made a habit out of repeatedly asking questions after I declare a white lie. So I think she has taught me a lesson of not telling a lie otherwise she'd doubt me all my life! lol! It's really difficult, but I am working on it. lol!

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