15 Reasons To Lie To The Kids

Lying. It’s terrible, reprehensible, and morally wrong - right parents? What parent would even think about lying to their child? Surprisingly many have and do. Are they bad parents, or setting a terrible example? No, of course not! They are just, well trying to muddle through like most of us in a complex world where honesty is not always the best policy in every single case. How can that be right one may ask? Well, for one thing, there are some lies used to save face, to make life less complicated, and to delay a topic which the child may be too young to delve into. How does a parent know this? They need to gauge where their child is and go from there.

How about white lies or tall tales as they used to call them? These kinds of things make explaining some of the challenges in life easier, such as topics of life and death, and baby making. Then there are lies used to buy time until Mom or Dad figure out what to say to the kids. In the end, the parents are the best judges as to what their kids are ready or not to handle. Yes, parents sometimes also make mistakes and lie. All adults do. It can be a learning experience for them and their kids to talk about. Lies are not all the bad things that people say they are. So here without further ado, are 15 Reasons to Lie to the Kids:

15 Teaches Them That The World Is Not Always Fair

The world is not always a fair place that much is true. It’s not a pretty or nice statement, but it is what it is. When kids eventually find out that their parents told them some lies for whatever reason, yes, they may become upset, but they would also slowly begin to be able to tell the difference between what is real and what isn’t. As they get older, they will see why their parents are telling them certain things and why not others. There will be big protests at first, and kids may lose some of their faith. But eventually, after talking with parents and understanding their viewpoint, they will most likely begin to see why parents did and said what they did. They may even respect their parents for trusting them to discover this on their own, or rather in their own time. Life can be tough. We all have to come by our lessons the hard way sometimes.

14 Buys Parents Some Peace And Quiet

Ok, if a kid is bugging their Mom or Dad every five seconds and asking them questions continuously, it's OK for Mom and Dad to tell a white lie or fib that they need to go get some work done in their office and instead go and put on an episode of their latest favorite Netflix show with low volume. What the heck! Being a parent is a 24/7 job, and adults need their break time too. But how well would it go over if, as a parent, we told our kids, “sorry, we’d rather watch TV right now than answer questions by the love of our lives." Not so good, huh. Plus, as a parent we would feel so guilty and selfish. So see, a white lie will save face for the parent, not hurt the child’s feelings, and then when the parent would be ready, they would be able to answer the questions.

13 Helps Parents Through Some Tough Topics Until They're Older

What does a parent do when their five or six year old comes to ask them about how babies are made? What about a question about death? Yeah, most parents will not get down and start explaining these difficult and stressful topics in detail with all the truths there. Heck, unless we were dealing with an older child, most parents would be so worried about traumatizing their child by telling them too much or not the appropriate amount. This is where Mom or Dad would keep it simple. This would involve leaving some details out, and eliminating some others which is not completely truthful. This is something that would serve all parties until the child was old enough to understand, and the parent had more time to figure out how to word things appropriately. With the subject of sex, there is so much to say. Do they just want to know where babies come form? How they got there? With death, is't a question of where we go when we die, what happens to the body, etc. It's not a simple answer, so it's sometimes best to postpone it altogether.

12 Prolongs Childhood A Little Longer

Then there are the childhood lies like Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy. These harmless, in a way, lies are fun and enjoyable for us and our kids and help us all preserve our innocence a little longer. Without them, some of the magic of the world is gone, and the world used to live a lot on magic in the old days when people sat around campfires telling stories and talking about ancestors and traditions from long ago. Storytelling is a beautiful tradition to pass down, and even though these characters are not physically real, they are real enough in our mind’s eye that we can share the joy of the storytelling tradition with our children. If it means backtracking a little further up the road, so be it. We will all get to enjoy a little more of the magic in life a little longer. If kids get upset once they learn the truth, one could make it that the magic is now being passed on to them to be Santa, Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy to younger children and share that joy.

11 Helps Spare People’s Feelings

Picture the little one eager to help Mom and Dad in the kitchen. Mom has gone through so much trouble to make a delicious meal for the family, but she can't say no to those big, adorable eyes. Everything seems to go fine. Then, everyone takes the first bite of food. It is the most awful food anyone has ever tasted. However, how can you tell your child that all of his or her effort has only ended up ruining what could have been amazing and delicious. So you lie. It would only hurt their feelings otherwise if we told them that is was the worst food we had ever had in our lives. This is called a lie to spare people’s feeling and not to hurt anyone. It may be untruthful, but is telling the truth the better way here - really now? All it would serve would be to embarrass and hurt the child who was so excited and happy to finally be able to help Mom and Dad with adult tasks! Also, it would make them feel unappreciated for their efforts. This is one of those times that telling a lie is the best way.

10 Teaches Them The Difference Between White Lies And Dishonesty

Yes, there are little lies, and big lies. The little or white lies are the ones we have just talked about - believing in fairy tales, and not hurting people’s feelings - and the bigger lies would be something a parent would have to learn to steer clear of; things like stealing, drug or alcohol abuse, criminal offences, and lying about it. These would not be acceptable of course, and would be considered big lies and things to take very seriously. Once parents have learned to distinguish these in their own eyes and life, then it will become easier to teach them to their children so that they can learn the difference. It is not always black and white. There are obviously a lot of grey areas involved here, and parents have to slowly teach their children how to navigate these areas and ask thoughtful questions. Learning to ask these questions will help them now and later in their lives.

9 Protects Them From More Mature Topics

Ever been the parent that told stories about the stork delivering babies or that we only die when we are really really old? Of course those are lies, but what are the other choices one has? Are we as parents really up for telling our kids all about sex and the ins and outs, as well as how death and suffering do unfortunately happen to people of all ages, including sometimes children? It is a scary thought and really difficult to explain, and for small children a parent can be stuck to find the right words to put it together. So we generalize and brush it off as something simple and easy to explain when it's not. This is technically a lie and is not helpful long term if continued, but short term we must do it in order to make it easier for our kids and us. As they get older, we could gradually come up with the truth, as they are ready to handle it and we are ready to tell it, but that still doesn't make it easy.

8 Helps Maintain Parental Authority

The only way to maintain authority is to be strict, right? Sure, in some respects. Parents can't be pushovers of course, or kids will take super advantage at all ages. But being overly strict tends to backfire, even with adults. Still, parents will tell white lies like “Mommy and Daddy need to go to bed early, we’re tired,” when they want a little bit of couple time, or else, “if you make those faces your face will stay that way,” which is false but effective for getting the kid to stop making rude facial expressions. Again, these are white lies that are effective for stamping out rude behavior, but which some parents may be opposed to. Still, the vast majority of us have proudly used these in order to get kids to cooperate and to simplify life. Things are complicated enough, and there is so much we don’t have control over that controlling what we can with whatever authority we have, will sometimes make all the difference in having some peace.

7 Helps Pass Down One’s Religious Traditions

Though many parents teach their children that there are many religions and ways to believe out there, a lot of others, to make things less complicated, will say that their religion or way of worship is the true path to God, spirituality, etc. Even the people who raise their children more liberally will say, “this is how our family does things,” “we believe in one God,” etc. There is nothing wrong with whatever way parents decide to go, but think about it. If a parent has been teaching their child about Jesus being the son of God, then another friend of that child is Jewish or Hindu or Pantheist or an atheist, it will cause some confusion, tension, and lots of questions. As a child, many of us brought up in religious households had to eventually contend with others in the world who had different beliefs. We may have felt lied to. It's hard the other way too if parents say there are many beliefs, as then the question is, “why do we believe only this then?”

6 To Protect Adult Privacy

Moms and Dads sometimes just need a break. Maybe that’s hard to explain to little ones who’ll miss their parents if they are going out socially, especially when they are little at the beginning. So what does the sitter say? Mom and Dad will be right back. But of course they don’t come right back. They go out for dinner and a movie. Usually the babies are asleep by the time they get back so no harm done. And not really, right? Still, in order to protect the privacy of parents, they will alter what they tell the child to avoid issues like tantrums or causing the child unwarranted stress. Another example would be: "Mommy has to go out and do groceries and really she goes out for coffee and shopping as she needs to recharge." The groceries is her excuse for an afternoon out. As children get older, parents can tell them the truth, but sometimes for babies and toddlers, it easier to lie in order to make exits and entrances smoother.

5 To Not Discuss Family Problems

Are there addictions, depression, or violence in the family? This is scary, serious and troubling stuff, but it is right for parents to leave little kids out of these discussions. These are adult issues that need to be handled by the adults involved, and if super serious, parents need their own time in a facility where they pose no danger to their children and where the other parent or caretaker can explain in a gentle way where the person can't stress out or harm the child. This is challenging and has its pros and cons, but if a child is in a stressful environment it's never good. Therefore, parents who fib where the other parent or family member is, are doing these kids a favor. When they are older, the truth can be revealed and explained. At this point, the child would have the maturity to understand it.

4 To Avoid Discussing Harsh Realities Of Life

The child sees the news and images of violence fill the screen. Maybe the child asks a question about 9/11? How does a parent respond? They are young. We don’t want to frighten them and make them afraid to sleep and live in the world. A parent may say the news is a movie, or a show that is not real. Other parents may downplay the events. It's not good long term, but again, until the child is ready and mature enough to understand war, violence, and other crimes - which when we think about it, is really hard for a lot of adults to grasp - this is when we are sometimes better off closing the TV and downplaying what kids see. It's a difficult call, and though some parents do attempt to explain it, others avoid this by lying about what the kids are seeing. It's something parents will have to face discussing at some point and being truthful about.

3 Helps Preserve Childhood Innocence

Does the child still believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, or The Easter Bunny? Guess what folks, if a parent continues to perpetuate these individuals, that's lying. Why? Well, they don’t exist! So a parent is in fact lying to their children if they tell them to be good so one of the three individuals above will bring them stuff. Still, what parent wants to be the killjoy and ruin the child’s fun and innocence? Now, if the child has entered the double digits, one can think about breaking the news, but when they're little and so excited, who has the heart to say these are fiction? Then of course all their friends will be talking about it? Do they really want to single out their kids as party-poopers? Once again, the pressure to lie and go with what others are doing is strong and this is why a lot of parents briefly lie to their kids as well. When the kids are older, parents usually find gentle ways to break the news to them. And there are many helpful parenting resources out there telling us how to do it.

2 So They're Not Shocked When Friends Do It

Other parents argue that everybody lies at some point. Again, there is the example of the bad food that we compliment to not to hurt feelings. From the person who smells that we do not point out is having some BO issues, to the child that we do not want at the party that we simply do not invite but don't say why, these are all things that other kids and their parents do in order to keep the peace. It works better to be polite and not hurt feelings, so we want to teach our kids to not get in people’s faces and tell them something they don't necessarily need to hear even if it's the truth. Some adults have a hard time with it, too. For example, there are some women who ask, “Do I look fat in this?” They want to hear no even if they do, and if their friends says yes, it causes problems. We avoid a lot of this by teaching kids to white lie then.

1 So They Learn The Difference Between Lies and Truth

Some parents use lies as teaching moments - for example, :"if you keep making that face that it will get stuck that way," then doing it themselves - by illustrating what they just lied about so kids know not to do it. These kinds of parents also illustrate what truth is and the positives of telling the truth to their children. It's so important that kids learn the difference. Most of them do learn from this method of teaching, though there are detractors that say teach only what you want them to learn not what you want them to avoid. This method is controversial with some parents.

So there they are: 15 Reasons to Lie to The Kids. They may not all be ones parents are comfortable with, but many of us have used these in order to make life less complicated and easier for everyone around us. Whichever way one goes as a parent, we have to learn to trust our gut in how we teach kids about the world around them.

Sources: Parenting, PaulGrahamWebMD

More in Baby Buzz