Lying is an integral part of parenthood. Growing up it’s all “tell the truth blah blah blah,” but if you haven’t learned the art of lying in general adulthood, parenthood will put you on the fast track. Here are five essential and hilarious styles of lies every parent tells their kids at some point. If you haven’t told one of these parenting lies yet, first of all, what are you waiting for?! Second…. Just give it time!
Parents tell lies to avoid the real answers to a question
“Where do babies come from?”
Okay, I get it, we have to tell our kids the truth eventually. But is eventually now? Because if it isn’t, I’m reaching for a lie and I’m reaching for it quickly.
Babies come from Mommy’s tummy. Babies come from the hospital. If I’m feeling desperate enough, I might even invoke the stork lie (and then show them the Stork movie if I need back-up to support my untruth).
A well-timed lie from a parent can really get kids moving
“If you don’t put your shoes on right now, the grocery store will run out of ice cream before we get there.”
Well, would you look at that, looks like someone lit a fire under her behind!
“I think Daddy’s home!”
This one doesn’t get our kids moving far, but it does get them moving, quickly, out from underfoot. When I’m cooking dinner and three of them are fighting and fussing next to me at the stove, I frequently trot out this little white lie. It sends them all sprinting to the door to at least check for Dad’s car. Sometimes I can stretch that even further by saying, “Are you sure? I could have sworn I saw his car… You should check again.”
Sometimes parents lie to their kids because they just can’t deal.
Sometimes I have the energy to go ten rounds with a toddler who insists we go to Chick-fil-A right now. Other times, I lack the patience to calmly explain that no, we won’t be visiting his favorite fast food restaurant today simply because we won’t (health, money, don’t feel like it–pick a reason!).
When it comes to those other times, I may reach for this handy little white lie, “Chick-fil-A is closed.” Heck, it is closed on Sundays. For all my toddler knows, today is Sunday. Where’s the lie?
This particular parenting lie also works for Chuck E. Cheese, Disney World, anywhere you just really don’t want to go at the time.
Another just-can’t-deal lie parents tell their kids is “It’s broken.” (No, not your spirit–that’s another conversation for another day.)
When the batteries in the world’s most obnoxious toy finally run out? It’s broken! (Amen and Hallelujah). In this case, I think mom or dad actually deserves a medal for waiting until the toy actually ran out of batteries rather than physically breaking it themselves. I’m looking at you, Color Fun Fish Bowl! Sure, colors and literacy sounds great until you have to hear “That fish is… ORANGE!” 40,000 times in one hour.
The toy or game that has 1000 pieces that end up all over the floor, lying in wait for you to step on them barefoot, daily, for at least a month? Broken.
The toy that causes a fight or an injury (or both!) every single time it’s brought out? It’s broken too.
Lies parents tell their kids because they don’t want to share
Parents, especially moms, share everything with their kids. Their time, their sanity, heck, between pregnancy and nursing, a mom has shared her actual body with another person for yearS, plural. You know what we don’t want to share? Our food.
Enter a classic parenting lie: It’s spicy.
Early on, the spicy lie works for just about any food, because your kids are too young to realize that chocolate and sweets are delicious and definitely NOT spicy.
As your kids age, well, that’s no longer the case and you have to reserve the spicy lie for foods your kids aren’t so familiar with. Sometimes I also use “It’s hot” because at least two of my kids are big wimps when it comes to food temperature.
A parent’s got to do what a parent’s got to do!
Not all lies parents tell their kids are harmful. Some are just plain hilarious and helpful.
Now look, I’m not suggesting you dodge every hard question your child sends your way, nor do I think lying should be a way of life. Still, you have to admit, sometimes a well-placed lie from parent to child is just what the doctor ordered.
Lately, I’ve been telling this one a lot: “Mom’s just know. They get special powers when they become moms that just help them to know.”
My kids are constantly wondering how I know when they’ve done something wrong or told a lie. I’ve been using the moms-just-know explanation because first of all, it is at least a little bit true. Motherly instincts are legit.
But more than anything, I just don’t want to explain to my child that I know he’s lying because he’s a terrible liar. When you mumble, stumble, stare at your feet, and change your story 42 times in four long, run-on sentences, the jig is up. Similarly, when they say they brushed their teeth, but the bathroom isn’t completely covered in water and toothpaste, once again, I know that’s a lie.
Of course, there are other helpful lies parents use to get through the day. Those include…
That looks great!
No. It doesn’t look great. Your child has gone through 400 sheets of paper today and drawn an unrecognizable stick figure on each of them. Of course, you’re praising their efforts like a supportive parent should, but that also requires some lying.
I’d love to hear more about that!
No. You definitely wouldn’t. You love your child dearly, but having to listen to them explain the elaborate world they’ve created in Minecraft feels like it could actually murder you with boredom. This is the type of lie parents have to tell their kids multiple times per day for many years. Then, your kids grow to be teenagers who no longer want to talk much with you and suddenly, you really DO want to hear more about that (oh my, how the tables turn…)
Playing Star Wars/Pokémon/Hatchimals/Whatever God-foresaken toy is popular right now is so much fun!
You get the idea.
And don’t worry — it’s not just lies that parents tell their kids. There’s also the lies parents tell themselves. Here’s just a few from that smorgasboard:
He’ll sleep better tonight.
I’ll go to the gym tomorrow.
I’m going to move that laundry from the washing machine to the dryer before it gets all musty and gross.
The fact is, lying is an essential element of parenthood. It’s basically required to survive the circus show you’re living in daily, so don’t feel bad about it — laugh about it!