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Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire: Why Fibbing is Part of Parenting

Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire: Why Fibbing is Part of Parenting

We tell our kids not to lie to us, but how often do we lie to them?

That playground rant, “Liar, liar, pants on fire hanging from the telephone wire” could rightly be directed at us instead of other children.

Some of us are self-righteously saying, “No, I don’t lie to my kids.” But face it: That was a quick rush to judgment supported by protective mechanism. We didn’t think about that answer long enough. Take a moment. Be honest ladies. Yes we do. We lie to our kids.

Sometimes trying to protect them from the ugly truth is more trouble than it's worth.

How many of us have told our kiddos that their favorite pet “went to sleep” or “up to pet heaven” when the reality is that darn critter simply died?


Here’s a lie that seems all so safe when the kids are in high school and balking at your authority.

“For now, you have to obey me. But you can do whatever you want when you turn 18.”

That one comes back to haunt you when said child still lives at home, decides to take you up on that promise and comes home at 2 a.m. on a week night totally disrupting every one else’s sleep because they haven’t yet perfected the art of sneaking back in to the house.

It isn’t the only “lie” we tell the kids trying to buy ourselves some wiggle room for our own comfort.

Members of the Circle of Moms are debating the right and wrong of lying to our kids in the Debating Moms community, and the variety of confessions is fun to examine.

Seems we moms bring that little white lie out of our parenting tool box on a regular basis.

“My son thought that mineral water was lemonade until he was about four because that’s what I told him,” admits Jodi A. “So he had mineral water with his dinner each evening. He never had a real lemonade until then.”

“I've told my son that his water is ‘juice’ to get him to drink it,” writes Joy B.

 “We tell the kids we are drinking mommy juice (wine) and daddy juice (beer),” states Anna K.

“My son (Nicholas) became scared of ‘Boo’ (a ghost on TV) last year. I tried to tell him Boo was not real, but he would not believe me. So I used poor old Boo to my advantage,” shares Konda P. “When Nicholas would not get in the bed at night, or come inside from playing, I’d just tell him it was fine but I assured him Boo would be coming to ‘see’ those little boys that aren’t listening to parents. (It was) amazing how fast he’d go to bed.”

Yep! I’m a liar,” confesses Sarah M. “I tell the kids that those silly ride machines they have in shopping centers are broken when they’re not. I’ve told them that the alarms in supermarkets will go off if they’re naughty. And I’ve told them that when the ice cream van is playing music, it means they’ve run out of ice cream.”

She’s a bold woman who must not have any neighbors. My kid can hear that jingle miles away, and he alerts all the other kids before racing back in the house asking for cash. I wouldn’t dare tell him the truck is empty because a revolt would most likely ensue. Plus, I need that ice cream truck to support another one of my vices: bribery. It’s amazing the yard work you can get out of a kid for the cost of an ice cream.

Yet none of these confessions even come close to the all-time classic: The Dead Batteries.

“I have to admit that when my kids have gotten loud annoying toys that won’t shut up, I’ll take out the batteries and tell them they broke,” says Lindsay H.

Yep, tried that one at our house too. Trouble is if said owner of irritating toy has older siblings, you have to enlist them in the lie as well. This will cost you a few bucks or a movie ticket unless you don’t want them to have something they can hold over your head. It just depends on how much value you put on some peace and quiet.

And the dead battery scenario only works until your child watches you change batteries out of a television remote. Then they figure out that new batteries can go into that aggravating toy that your parents gave them.

While much of the above is somewhat humorous, it does beg the question: “Is it okay to lie to your kids about these things? And if you do, are you teaching them to lie?”

From a puritanical standpoint, the answer is no, you shouldn’t lie, and yes, you are by example teaching your kids that some lies are socially acceptable.

It sucks because often times the truth takes a lot more energy to explain, and it's anybody's guess whether your child will comprehend and accept it.

I guess that’s why prominent child psychologist Dr. James Dobson said “parenting isn’t for cowards.”

In examining my own parenting, I’ve realized that most of the white lies I’ve told were really for my own comfort, and not for the kids. I just didn’t want to or felt I didn’t have the time, space or ability to go the extra mile for the truth.

For instance, being honest about the dead battery issue would mean said child would then ask for new batteries. If I had them in the house, I’d have to install. If I didn’t have them, I could try to stall but said child would then pester me until I admit I don’t want to go to the store right now and I don’t want to listen to that noise. And that would then digress into a discussion of when we could go to the store and me explaining why the racket made by said toy drives me crazy.

Either way the result is the same. I’ve got a headache.

Fortunately, we are past the annoying toy scene in my house. Now it’s Rock Band blasting at top volume. Sounds like someone is being stabbed by a pitchfork.

At least I'm telling the truth when I yell, “Ian, turn it down.”

Image Source: mollypop via Flickr/Creative Commons

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

Join The Conversation
EstherMcCartney EstherMcCartney 5 years
Good on those not feeling pressurized by society to lie to their children about fictional characters. Totally agree that it breeds massive mistrust, and going that extra mile to explain something difficult to your child is an act of pure love. It's too easy to lie! Go all out for your kids, and love them in every word! (Plus you get out what you put in, they'll give you 'white lies' back one day .. "I was staying at Sarah's house mum!" ... Yea right :P )
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