The little white lies we tell kids

From a very young age, our parents have taught us that lying is bad but at the same time I find that most parents tell lots of white lies to their kids.

Simple lies like “There’s no more candy in the house” or “The police arrest children who swear are very common.

I was just wondering if we do it because we are protecting our children, sparing their feelings or the just that we can’t resist telling little white lies.

While growing up, I was looked after by my grandmother when my parents were at work. She had to look after 3 small kids, poor grand ma. But I remember a few white lies that she used to keep us in line.

  • You had better be careful; if you pick your nose you might put a hole in your brain.
  • Don’t cry or a big cat will come and take you.
  • Spit out the seeds or a tree will grow in your stomach.

I know sometimes it is hard to answer the questions that kids ask. Like if they asked

  • Is Santa Claus real?
  • What is sex?
  • Why tooth fairy comes only when I sleep?

No matter how hard we try, sometimes it is easier to tell them white lies than to tell them the truth. Most of them we may have heard from our own parents when we were young. But is that fair to the kids? Do we do it because we don’t know the answer or we want to be nice to them?

The other white lies I hear around me are

  • The car won’t start unless everyone has their belt on.
  • If you pull a face like that again, the wind might change and you’ll stay like that forever.
  • If you tell me the truth you won’t get into trouble.
  • You are the prettiest girl/most handsome boy in the world
  • That good people eventually succeed, and that bad people will ultimately be held accountable.
  • When people /pets die, they go to heaven.
  • Chocolate will give you acne.

According to the study, many parents spare their kids heartbreak by telling them these white lies but I don’t have kids so I really don’t know the actual reason. Still I find it amazing what lie parents tell their kids just to make them stop crying or listen to them.

Do share what white lies you were told as a kid by your parents? Do you ever lie to your kids?

Till next post, take care.

M from nepaliaustralia


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27 responses to “The little white lies we tell kids

  1. I am a parent and parent educator in the Positive Discipline type parenting. I believe it is disrespectful to children to lie to them and it teaches that lying is okay and that their parents are not trustworthy. I hope to have a trusting relationship with my kids through their teen years and adulthood. I am laying the foundation now by being honest with them. Look up Positive Discipline for tips on ways to practice honesty in parenting!

  2. I was laughing even before I read this post of yours, M. I don’t think (?) I’ve told many of those little white lies to the girls, but I have given them very sarcastic/smartass answers to their questions sometimes. They’ve always seen right through it though, and responded with the keen insight of not believing a word I said. 🙂

    • Kids these days are really smart and it is hard to deceive them 🙂 and with internet it is so easy for the to find the answer online. You must be proud that your gals are so smart 🙂

  3. We try not to lie through the teeth to our kids. E.g When kids ask where do babies come from we don’t say stork dropped you here, we say Mom & Day were feeling lonely and wanted someone to play with who can stay with us and so we got you. Not a complete lie & a reasonable explanation that it’s a collaborative effort of Mom & Dad.

  4. I’m torn about this one. I wasn’t brought up with all the stories on Santa or the tooth fairy but I had an active imagination nonetheless even without these two very popular entities, so I don’t feel like my daughter will be missing out on anything if she does not get taught about Santa or the tooth fairy.That said, I am from India and my husband is American, so my husband was brought up with these stories. I’ve left it up to him- if he would like for our daughter to know about Santa then he has full carte blanche.

    On the other hand, I am very unsure about religion and about telling my daughter that the “bad” get their comeuppance and the “good” win in the end, because we know that is not how the world works. It is a pessimistic view, but also a realistic one I think, but I also wonder, do I want my daughter growing up thinking that everything is a lost cause? Get back to me on that one in five years :-).

  5. This one I found is so practical post dear. It’s because we’ve hearing since childhood. And its sometimes necessary to get little help of these not so bad and hurting white lies. When we grow up, we automatically know what the reality was !!! So I don’t think it will create some unwanted situations for us to get help if these lies. In my case, I had planned I won’t do this and that when I will get to raise my kids. But hey, as many other moms in this world, I got lost in mundane regular activities of my baby like feeding ( almost 1 hr!!!), getting her sleep etc. the list goes on and on. I became victim of those lies too. 🙂 but I know I have been wise telling her those things which won’t impact her growing and curious mind in coming days. We should be aware for what kind if lie we are going to tell beforehand and rest is part if upbringing . It should be a good memory for our kids to remember not a frightening one . Thanks for a thoughtful post.

  6. Wow you should check out my last post 🙂 it was exactly on this topic. Read it if you get a chance. I think many parents are unaware that their children can handle reality and truth. Some others try where it makes sense for them. And many others stick to a lot of truth an reason. But no matter what – children are erratic and don’t always understand and abide by reason. Sometimes when you spend what seems like an endless day with a child you break and say random things when u do get tired! There’s always discussion on parents forums on the things you swore you’d never do as a parent but do now – this, what u’ve written is generally on top of that list 🙂

    • I went and read your post :), really great . I am sure when I have kids one day, I will tell some white lies when necessary as well. It is really nice to know parents views in this issue 🙂

  7. I have always wondered about this – how I will handle some questions from my kids. My parents always told me to spit out the seeds else a tree will grow..Or when I cried or misbehaved my mom told me a scary guy will come take me. that shut me right away..its obviously not a right thing to lie but I am sure for a parent, doing a housework, cooking, and deal with crying baby is probably very frustrating and resorting to white lies to made things little easier – don’t know if its right or wrong thing.

    • I think when we become parents one day, I hope we learn how much of a white lies is OK and what we should never do. I hope to get lots of help and suggestion from everyone then 🙂

  8. One white lie my brother tells my niece is that she might have to go to childcare if she misbehaves :P. Now I don’t know if saying that is good or bad. Right now what I think is I will not tell my kids any lies unless I have to but again parenting is something that we cannot just comment on unless we have kids of our own.

  9. I’ve always been truthful with my kids. I was told I shouldn’t tell them this or that. But if I don’t tell them then how are they to know? Of course they loved the Santa and Easter bunny fantasy. They know they are not real, but it was all in fun and the mystical magic things like that bring are stories they remember to this day. They are adults now and are extremely well rounded. They are funny and smart and are making their way in this world. I couldn’t be more proud. And they know no matter what happens in life, they can count on me being straightforward with them.

  10. Goodness, all the white lies are the same all over the world.
    I’m fine with telling these white lies, except telling my children they are the most beautiful/handsome in the world. Cute maybe, because all kids are cute.

    I know of one girl whose parents named her Beauty. ( I’m not kidding ) Growing up , she was teased mercilessly by her peers, especially boys, because frankly, she’s really really ugly, and kids are cruel and frank. Her parents should have been advised not to name her Beauty because if she turns out not physically beautiful, she’s bound to see smirks and rolling of eyes by adults.

    • OMG how unthoughtful. Poor kid. That’s why I really think it is so important to think a lot before naming your child.And kids can be very cruel and judgmental. I know few kids bullied because of their name.And celebrities are not helping the world name thing their babies Apple, North, Blue, Rainbow. Poor kids.

  11. It’s a fine line… those with accepted cultural value are not so much lies as a rite of passage, from believing in Santa into the uncovered world. Kids learn the harsh truth of human existence over time, and that’s okay.

    Where I have a harder time is with things that they need to know in order to be safe, to learn to respect boundaries and protect theirs, to know the capabilities of body and mind. And I don’t believe in corporal punishment… we need to take time to explain and help them understand.

    • I know what you mean nelle. I support your views and I think parents do need to teach their kids from right from wrong and help them to understand their body and help then take responsibilities for their action.

  12. I think that some white lies are leading to truths and love later in life. To help parents through tough moments, sometimes the truth while young could really hurt or damage their psyche. I never made up some of those silly things but did say, “Be careful or you will poke your eyeball out with that stick…” (or other child’s eyes nearby.)

    • That is what I exactly mean. I can’t believe I know a mother who told everyone not to say NO to her child in any circumstance. Imagine how spoiled that child is and how he will deal with the real world when he grows up.

  13. Whoooaaaaa!!!! Stop right there: are you telling me that not only am I not the most handsome boy in the world and I’m not going to heaven, but I could have eaten more chocolate without fear of acne? That’s just great! That’s my whole belief system destroyed, I’m going back to bed.

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