Is it OK to lie to your kids?

Filed under: Big Kids, Tweens

Because of an argument I recently had with my mom, an article titled "House of lies: Is fibbing to your kids ever OK?" grabbed my attention.

A few months ago, my 8 and 6 year old spent spring break in Arizona visiting their grandparents. My kids are very close with my parents and while there, the subject of peer pressure came up in a conversation they were having about school with their grandmother. My mother explained that both children and adults are susceptible to peer pressure. As an example, she said it was like "when Uncle Pat goes out to smoke on the patio and convinces your Daddy to smoke with him.".

The problem is that our kids have no idea that their Dad has ever smoked cigarettes. My mom, apparently, didn't know that.

It's true that my husband, Sean, shared a cigarette with my brother a couple years ago. However, it is the rare social occasion where Sean smokes and it is always out of the sight of the kids.

When the kids returned home, one of the first things they told us was that Grandma told them "Daddy smoked with Uncle Pat." Clearly they were shocked and wanted to sort out the story. Totally surprised by the revelation, my husband told them that grandma must have been mistaken and left it at that. The kids believed him and that was the end of the story ... sort of.

When my mom found out, she was upset because she felt that Sean's explanation undermined her credibility with the kids. She also thinks that this could have been a teachable moment: children and adults must overcome temptations to give in to peer pressure -- even Daddy. More importantly, she insists that we should not lie to the children, lest they catch Sean smoking one day.

My husband and I do not believe that we need to tell our kids everything. While it would be best if Sean never smoked at all (and he hasn't in a long time), I agree with his decision to "lie" in this instance given how rarely he smokes. In this case, I do not think it is something we need to discuss or explain to the kids. Sometimes, withholding some information, especially when they are young, is for their own good.

So, is it OK to lie to your kids? Weigh in. Both my mom and I are curious about your answers.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.