PD*Poll: Lying to your children

Filed under: Preschoolers, Big Kids

My son Jared's beloved stuffed Mickey Mouse went to the Mickey Doctor and by the time Jared came home from school, Mickey was waiting there for him, as good as new. Of course, there's no such thing as a Mickey Doctor -- Mickey looked as good as new because he was new, bought off eBay and switched for the original was Jared was in school. That's just one of the many lies I've told my kids over the years.

But is lying to your kids a good idea? The answer, of course, is that it depends. Victoria Talwar, a psychologist at McGill University in Montreal says that the occasional white lie won't hurt. "If you buy into Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, what's another here and there?" What you have to watch out for, however, is that it doesn't become habitual and that you're not teaching your kids to lie.

According to Talwar, kids as young as three know if you're lying to them. "They're definitely influenced by their parents," she says. "If the parents' lie, the kids will pick that up more as a strategy. They learn it as a way to manipulate and get what they want or conceal things they want to get out of."

Parenting is tough; perhaps the occasional white lie is a good thing. On the other hand, perhaps honesty really is the best policy.

Do you think it's okay for parents to lie to a child?
Parents should never, ever lie to a child, just as they would never lie to an adult.51 (19.5%)
The occasional white lie won't hurt, just don't make a habit of it.152 (58.2%)
Lying is a very useful tool for parents who want to maintain their sanity.29 (11.1%)
They're kids; lying to them is half the fun of being a parent.29 (11.1%)

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