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Is it okay to lie to your kids?

Updated on December 26, 2008

Is okay to lie to your kids?

As a parent, I've thought about this question a lot but I would prefer to restate it:

Is it okay to tell white lies?

When I was a child, I was not always careful to tell the whole truth. I learned the lesson quickly. Telling the truth is essential to our credibility and more importantly to building trust with others. So, I made a decision early on that I do not lie in areas that matter. My criteria here is simple. Will the person be upset if they find out later that I was lying. If they find out later and they laugh or they find out later and don't mind, then the lying is probably ok.

So, what do I do when my child asks me if I did any drugs in high school, if I ever cheated on a test, or if I ever stole anything from a store? On these questions, my answer will be: "Stealing is wrong. Cheating is wrong. Drugs are illegal, etc." I won't go into details about my past. If I call out what I didn't do, then I am making it clear what I probably did do. If I avoid these issues until my child is an adult, then the child will not be influenced by any actions that I made in the past and I am not lying. I think that it is our right as parents to choose when we talk about certain details. We have a great influence on our children so it is important that we don't talk about certain topics before a child is ready.

Now, when my eldest child turned 3 years old and he asked if Santa Claus really exists. For me, this was very easy to answer: "Yes, Santa Claus exists and if you are very good, he will bring you presents on Christmas eve."



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      Wesley 9 years ago

      I agree with Ananta. If you don't want to tell your son something, just be honest and say that you'd rather not tell him. By lying to your son you are going against the very ethics that you are trying to instill in him, and in time he will come to view you as a liar, a hypocrite, and someone who can't be trusted; the worst part, likely, will be that he will be right.

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      Ananta65 9 years ago

      I think you touched an important point there: credibility. And I think that even the smalles, most innocent lie will affect your credibility. So I agree that we, parents, have the right to decide what to disclose and what not. But then let's just be honest about the fact that we don't want to talk about it.

    • MM Del Rosario profile image

      MM Del Rosario 9 years ago from NSW, Australia

      Thank you for answering my request......yes i have used the Santa Claus answer to my daughter for a long time.....

    • Paul Edmondson profile image

      Paul Edmondson 9 years ago from Burlingame, CA

      I love the answer to Santa Clause in the context of this hub.