PARENTS

Is It Ever OK To Lie To Your Children?

13/05/2009 10:58 | Updated 22 May 2015

Is lying to your children ever acceptable? Or should you always tell them the truth, no matter what?

Over at MomLogic, psychologist Dr. Cara Gardenswartz tells us about some of the lies that parents tell their kids.

She suggests that these lies are not needed, and that the truth is a better path. It won't necessarily set you free. But it is better.

Some of Dr. Gardenswartz's examples are pretty straightforward. I would never say "The car doesn't work until your seat belts are buckled." I go with "Put your seatbelt on."

One of my daughter's friends told me that her parents don't make her use a car booster seat. I calmly informed her that she wasn't with her parents at the moment, and in our car the children use booster seats. After staring at me for a second with a look of shock on her face, she jumped up on the seat.

So in general, I agree. But I think there are times when it is acceptable to lie to children. Here are some examples.

Child: "I want another biscuit"*

Parent: "They're all finished."

Whilst I have no problem telling children no, you can't have any more biscuits, sometimes it's just easier to say there aren't any more. For me, I do this when I'm just too tired to be in the studio audience for an BAFTA Award-worthy meltdown. Cop-out? Absolutely.

*(although, if it was the more polite "Please may I have another biscuit?" I might be a bit more amenable)

Situation: Child wonders why Mummy and Daddy's door was locked at 10 o'clock at night. And what those funny noises were.

Depending on how old the child is, it's not the worst thing to tell them "Nothing. Go back to bed." Could you tell "the truth," and give a song and dance about how Mummy and Daddy love each other, and they were showing how much they love each other, and blah blah blah? Or come up with an elaborate and bizarre lie, like mommy and daddy were singing one of their favourite Yoko Ono songs? ("Ahhhh! Ohhhh! Ooooaaaaeeee!!!") Not worth it. Not everything requires an explanation.

I do disagree slightly with the good doctor when it comes to the death of a pet. I don't think the lie "Fluffy (the cat) went to live with Mummy and Daddy Cat" is a good idea. But "Fluffy died" (wait to see their response) seems a bit harsh. A dollop of sympathy, even "I'm sorry Fluffy died," seems more compassionate to me.

Source

What do you think? Are there times when lying to children is OK? When? Or should we always tell them the truth, no matter what?

More:

Development
Suggest a correction