Should Moms Lie to Their Kids?

Ah! Moms are at it again — lying here, lying there, lying everywhere! I know some moms don’t intentionally mean to lie, but they still do. I have done it myself and thought, “Whoops! That’s not really true!” In fact, its all-so-common that naturally the thought arises, “Should moms lie to their kids?” Is it really that bad?

moms who lie to their kids

As moms, one of our main priorities in motherhood should be forming admirable character traits in each of our children. Don’t we all want honest kids? The majority of adults will say that honesty is super-important on the character list. However, I don’t want to teach my kids a character attribute that I don’t already exhibit in my own life — it’s hypocritical, ya know?

I honestly think many moms don’t consider their untruths are lies. I mean the word “lie” has so many negative, evil connotations. For instance, God hates a lying tongue. Surely He can’t hate my tongue when I continually tell harmless lies, right? I think that is where the problem really originates; we don’t view the untruths we speak as lies — they’re just twists and tweaks on reality.

Let me ask you a question. Has your spouse ever lied to you — even a small, tiny, lie? Has your mom ever lied to you? How did you feel? Cheated or betrayed? When we tell a lie, it doesn’t seem all that bad, but when someone lies to us — watch out! They’re in for it!

should moms lie to kids

Lying is serious, and we should always strive to be honest in our family affairs, business affairs and even with our kids. Think about these all-so-common lies that I hear constantly!

You better be good or I am going to call 1-800-North Pole and tell Santa you need to be put on the bad list!
Take the medicine, it tastes like candy!
The shot won’t hurt sweetie, just close your eyes and hold my hand.
Tell Uncle Ben I’m not here. I don’t feel like talking.
If you cross your eyes, they will get stuck.
If you don’t come here now, i will leave you by yourself.
Babies come from large birds that fly around and drop them down to their special homes.

Obviously, with owning a website, I spend a good bit of time online researching parenting articles and websites. The articles on parents lying to kids are really revolting. Most writers want to convince you it’s ok. Why? Because they don’t want to cause a stir. They don’t want to make parents “feel bad” — or maybe I could call it responsible. Yes, we should “feel bad” when we have looked into our child’s eyes and knowingly, purposely told them a lie. They deserve to know and hear the truth as much as parents.

Do you know what happens when someone stands up and says, “You shouldn’t lie to your kids”? People begin accusing those parents of wrong-doing. Really! One recent article went as far as calling parents that say they don’t lie to their kids — guess what? They called them liars. Imagine! They said, “All parents lie to their kids.” I beg to differ.

Imagine how your child will feel when he realizes you have been lying to him about Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, shots, medicine and countless other things. Does he know you lie about your weight on your driver’s license? What about the time you told him to tell his teacher he was late to school because there was a lot of traffic that morning? When will it stop and when will he learn to trust your words as truth?

Almost all moms want their kids to be honest and truthful — even if it means claiming a misdeed. But, moms cannot begin to teach their children honesty until they live honestly in their own lives.

Yes, I know kids will ask embarrassing or extremely personal questions — but use you can answer those questions with truthful wisdom. Give them enough facts without lying. You don’t have to explain reproduction to a four-year-old when he asks how his baby sister got in your belly. Answer it truthfully and simple like, “God made a special way for babies to get in my tummy.” Leave it at that and finish the lesson when he is much older. Kids will enjoy having a close relationship with you because you have always proven to be an honest parent.

Why is it such a big deal for moms to be honest?

Let’s consider the reason behind a mom lying. Is it to have personal gain, to cover up mistakes, or to appear as someone they are not? Those are all self-serving reasons — and not one of them a good one for lying.

You know what? There are times when a person’s word is the only thing people can put their faith in. Sometimes there is no evidence to back up a false claim as well as no evidence to prove we are innocent. When that times comes in your life, you have no regrest for being honest at all times.

Dear mom, you need to stop the lying now. No matter how big or small, your lying effects you, your relationships and your children. How can we teach our kids to be honest if we lie? We can’t. Trust me when I say the truth will set you free!

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26 thoughts on “Should Moms Lie to Their Kids?”

  1. I found your blog on pinterest and read a couple of posts, I will definitely be back! I was drawn to this post because I despise lying and I have struggled with the whole santa, easter rabbit, faries and other typical lies since I had my son the years ago. I don’t like lying, BUT how can you take away that joy and magic from a child? My children will alwaysv know that Christmas is about celebrating Jesus, but there is nothing like seeing their eyes light up at the thought that Santa is coming! How magical that you put a tooth under your pillow and get a suprise in the morning. As much as I don’t agree with lying to your children, I just think there is a lot of horrible things in this world that we need to deal with as adults. Cancer, loss, heartache, responsibilites. I read this saying somewhere and it resonated with me “let them be little” Don’t you agree?

    1. HI Jamie!
      SO glad you stopped by and yes, I completely understand how you feel. I LOVE seeing my kids get all excited about things, however we can still give them a special childhood filled with lots of amazing, heart-warming memories without telling them untruths.

      Right now, my kids are super excited about putting up a Christmas tree. We just decorated for fall and they were excited and immediately thought about Christmas decorations:)

      We still have a special time at Christmas—without Santa Claus. We just tell our kids, if there are gifts, the Lord provided the money to buy them or this family member wanted to send them a gift, etc. This way they are also taught to thank the giver instead of believing a lie. I want my kids to be thankful as well as trust me to always tell them the truth.

      We give our kid’s money for their teeth and there is no less sparkle than if we told them about the tooth fairy. We tell them to turn the tooth into daddy for some money and they are thrilled for the extra money to save or buy a special treat or toy.

      I do not feel like my kids feel neglected growing up without a childhood filed with Santa and the tooth fairy. In fact, they are glad that while they meet other kids that believe in those things, that I have been honest with them. Sometimes they have told me they were glad I never told them an untrue story. Again, I do not want to be guilty of telling my kids a lie, I only desire them to know the truth. Even if lying is a tradition, I dare not honor a tradition that goes against the teachings of God’s word.

      Please believe me when I say one of the most amazing feelings in the world is seeing my kids happy. But also believe me that my kids are very happy—without a Santa and a tooth fairy. They have much better!

      Thanks again for stopping by! Glad you found me on Pinterest!

      1. My mother did Santa when my brother and I were children. I was a *bit* disappointed to learn he wasn’t real (mom let us draw our own conclusion on that; I decided he wasn’t real when I was 11 or so) but I got over it. With my own children, we have never done Santa or the Tooth Fairy, or the easter bunny (we don’t do easter anyway), and I don’t think they’ve missed out. You want your children to trust what you say, and how can they do that if you brought them up believing a lie?

  2. I enjoyed reading your post. I too have struggled with what is an acceptable lie and what is not (knowing that there isn’t such a thing in God’s eyes). We used to tell our children that we were putting a bug in a tissue and putting him outside to be with his family when in fact we were killing it! We use the fact that we want to shelter our children as our “excuse”. It’s a gray area that I think we all need to work on. As far as the Santa thing, did you believe as a child? My mom didn’t promote Santa (I think it was a lack of effort thing, not an honesty thing)and I always felt that I missed out on it all. So when my children were born I was determined to do the Santa thing. But I have recently questioned whether I do it for them or more for me.

    1. Hi Missy!
      I am so glad we have gotten to connect on this blog, your comments have been very encouraging.
      Yes, I did grow up believing in Santa and was not a happy camper when I found out the truth. However, I think my mom was like most parents when they don’t consider it lying, simply because it has been tradition. Most people don’t question tradition.
      My kids do not feel left out. In fact, I tell them that people tell their kids that Santa can see them when they are sleeping and when they are awake and knows if they have been good or not. My kids automatic response is, “No on can do that except God!”
      My kids LOVE Christmas, but it is the family get-to-gethers, the decorations, the snow, the Christmas music and other festivities that create their memories. They have a happy wonderful, fulfilling life—without Santa Claus.
      The main reason I wrote this post was to get moms to think about things we tell kids—untruths that we claim as truth. I think many parents go through the motions of telling lies without considering that it IS a lie.
      Thanks again for taking time to comment. I love to interact with the readers and find out what you’re thinking!

  3. Hi Alison,

    Just thought I’d drop in and say ‘hi.’ Glad you all seem to be doing well. It is funny how Aaron and Amanda, you and Adam, and Chris and me are all at 6 children. And all of us have 4 and 2 on the gender side. My youngest is 6 months.
    Fall weather is approaching here and we started school last week. All four of my boys are doing school now. We’re doing Abeka. Things have been challenging to me lately because I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and I’m usually in a considerable amount of pain but I’m on medication now and it is starting to get better. The hormone drop post partum really causes it to flare up.
    How are you doing? Is you ear feeling better?
    Amanda Beard

    1. Hi Amanda!
      Yep, six kiddos is a busy life! Can you imagine our get-togethers now? Six adults and 18 kids?!
      Sorry about your arthritis, I will be praying for you in that area!
      Home-schooling four kids is tough..whew! But, the reward is great.
      My ear is feeling better, thanks. I lost my hearing for awhile in that ear, but now it is back, thank the Lord! A doctor here “fixed” it and then I could not hear for 2 weeks. It was annoying and painful. We hope to go to Thailand next year for check-ups on many health issues.
      Keep in touch!

  4. I found your post through Pinterest as having just spent the holidays with my 3 children, there have been incidents when they have lied about what happened. It caught my eye because a neighbour’s child lied to me when he came round to play and claimed it wasn’t him who dropped a box of nails down our slide. He accused my eldest son but I’d watched the incident from my bedroom window. I also know that our neighbour’s child knew he would get in trouble for something so stupid so pointed the finger at my child. I am bringing my children up not to lie and that they will be in more trouble for lying than for anything broken. My five year old is a very honest child in both telling me what actually happened and also about his feelings – he is very clear to other children if what they have said has upset him. I’ve been cheated on before I met their father and my ex was always lying which ultimately ended in me not trusting others for a while. I don’t want my children to ever turn out like that and I want them to understand the difference between hurtful lies and white lies.
    However, like many other people it is a very difficult parenting issue as to whether you perpetuate the biggest lie of Father Christmas. I’ve found myself slightly uncomfortable at times knowing I’m lying to my children about an elf that visits them for the month of December and reports back to Father Christmas. It’s hard work keeping it up too. But realistically, I want my children to have magical childhoods that are full of gorgeous memories. It is part of life that lies exist, that not all people can be trusted and there is a big difference between perpetuating the myth of a man who wants to give people presents for being good for the early part of their childhoods and pretending it doesn’t exist at all.
    Unlike other posters, I struggle with the concept of God. My son attends a CofE school where he is being taught about God yet his father and I don’t believe. I have to answer his questions about something I stopped believing in when I was around 10. Tina’s comments were valid. Excluding whole genres of books because they are not acceptable to the parents limits a child’s ability to make sense of their worlds and those that they link into.
    Whatever happens parenting is a hard job whether you are Christian or not and you have to bring your children up with your own moral code. I’m happy with the job I’m doing as I have three lovely boys who regularly make me smile with their often extreme honesty. My next job is teaching tact so the comments about people’s weight or wrinkles aren’t rude…

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Lucy.
      Yes, I agree it is part of life that lies exist, however I do not want to be guilty of lying, nor do I desire for my children to follow that path.
      I am sorry you stopped believing in God when you were 10 and I would love to have an opportunity to discuss the existence of God further with you privately, if you would like. My email is alison.pintsizedtreasures at gmail.com . Replace the “at” with the @ symbol.
      Parenting is tough, but so rewarding. Yes, boy do I have stories of trying to stop my kids from saying things that ran across their mind! One example was my son saw a man at the grocery store and said,”Mom! He looks like a monkey!” Such a humbling experience:)
      Keep in touch!

  5. Hi Alison,
    I love your heart for parenting. It’s obvious that you care deeply about how you raise your children and you’re viewpoint shows that you’re not just thinking about the “now”, but also about the “later”, which in some cases will be years down the road. As a mother of four young adults, I can attest that it’s not always an easy job, but God is always faithful to walk us through the process.

    That being said, we thoroughly embraced Santa with our kiddos, as did my parents before me. We left cookies out, visited his house downtown and wrote him letters, confident that they would find their way to the North Pole. One memory our kids especially treasure is the year we made footprints from the ash in our fireplace that led all the way to the tree. They still talk about it to this day and I’m sure they’ll repeat it with their own little lovelies.

    As all children do, they came to the eventually realization that the “person” of Santa Claus was not real, but never once did they accuse us of lying. By the time they were old enough to process the truth, they were also old enough to appreciate the fable and they were left with precious memories.

    Our faith was and always has been a constant in our lives. They’ve seen God work in miraculous ways throughout every season of our lives. His authenticity has never been in doubt because He’s never been the “visitor” Santa was, but always a true companion. In their eyes, there was never any comparison.

    As a children’s librarian, a lot of parents cross my threshold, most of them deeply dedicated to raising the best equipped children they can. Sometimes that includes refusing to allow their child to read fables, fairy tales or anything that in any way has a touch of whimsey or fantasy about it. I always honor those parental requests, but my heart also grieves because we learn a lot from the make-believe adventures of our youth. The morals of the story are often just that, morals. We learn what good and evil look like, and why one should always be chosen over the other. We also learn to be critical thinkers, to identify what is incorrect in a story and why we believe that to be so. Parents are the perfect guide for these adventures, but sadly, many don’t elect to take that trip under the notion that kids are best served by complete and total honesty and fictional or fantastical characters have no place in that arena. Were that to have been the case in our home, our kiddos would have never made the connection between the gentleness of Aslan and the fiercely redemptive nature of their Savior. Could they have one without the other? Absolutely, and they know the difference between them, but they are richer for knowing both.

    1. Hi Tina!
      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I understand about the memories you made with your kids. I LOVE making memories.

      THe main gist of this post was to encourage parents to be completely honest with their kids so that their kids will grow up to mirror that honesty in their own lives.

      However, I have gotten many comments about the Santa and Tooth Fairy comments in the post, though that was not the main idea. I want to live a life of honesty–even if that means going against a tradition of lying.

      There are many adults that I know, including myself, that choose not to teach their kids about Santa and the Tooth Fairy. We were taught to believe those things, but have decided to tell our kids the truth. As far as your kids never calling you a liar, I think it would take a lot of disrespect to call someone’s parent a liar–even if they did lie. I cannot bring myself to say that. But, if you tell your children that a man in a red suit will come down the chimney and bring them presents on Christmas Eve–that is an untruth.

      I think the comparison of Santa and the Tooth Fairy to mystical creatures you read in books is not fair. We do not try to feed the characters in the books, write them letters, or tell our kids those people are real and can see them when they are sleeping and when they are awake. Instead, we grin and smirk and say, “It’s just pretend!”

      My kids love to pretend and I am not against them using their imagination. But, pretending someone is real, and encouraging our children to interact with him, is not being honest.

      Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts!

  6. You have sited out a very good point. I want my child to grow up with the fear of lying. I do not want her to think that lying(in any form) is okay. But like some readers here who have given their comments, I do not want to take away that magic from childhood. Now, I am torn between two choices. As a child I marveled at the thought of Santa Claus and fairies and all sorts of magical creatures and I think it made my childhood fun and magical. At the same time, I do not want to lie to my child about all these magical creatures’ existence. Help me!

  7. Awww…Janet, I know what you are saying!

    It was hard for me as well to think about my kids not participating in what most people consider the most fun and magical part of Christmas. However, there are so many more special memories that can be made!

    I get comments all the time about how happy my kids seem, and they are! Not only that, they are thankful. One thing we seem to forget in teaching our kids about Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy is our kids never get to give a thanks where thanks is due. My kids have learned to have gratitude towards the giver of a gift instead of a mystical person named Santa that never dies and is omniscient.

    I don’t want my kids thinking those attributes that only belong to God are held by another being. I want my kids to give thanks to the One who gives every perfect gift—Jesus Christ!

    I want my kids to see honesty in my life and then desire to mirror that in their own.

    If complete honesty is what you want in your own life, ask God to help you break away from traditions that encourage parents to lie. You may find much comfort in knowing you don’t have to continually make up stories to keep the lies from being found out–the truth will set you free! There is much relief and stress-free living in not keeping things from your kids.

    Buy your kids gifts, hang stockings, bake cookies and then sit back and thank God for providing the money to have a happy holiday–not s person that does not exist. Give thanks where it is due:)

    Thanks for commenting!

  8. Loved your post. One minor quibble – please don’t tell your kids that babies grow in tummies! That’s not true. Tummies grow when people eat – thanks where food goes. Babies grow in their momma’s womb. A womb is a special “room” or place where a baby grows.

    We do have a young friend who, upon discovering that Santa wasn’t real, decided that Jesus wasn’t real either. I mean, they were both in cute stories in December? What’s the difference?

    Anyway, thanks for your post!

    1. Tummy can mean stomach but it is also another term for abdomen (e.g., tummy-tuck, tickle your tummy, tummy time) and it’s perfectly acceptable to use when talking to a young child who is not ready for an anatomy lesson.

  9. Let’s say you or your husband happens to ask, “do these pants make me look fat?” What would your response be? What would his be? What would you want your children’s response to be to their future spouse? Your daughter writes a play and preforms a play, which is long and pretty boring… What do you say when she asks if you enjoyed it? All “lies” are not created equal. In fact, many would argue, that Santa Claus (the fantasy based on a reality) is no more a lie than the Jesus you believe in. Being honest with children, within their social and emotional capacity, is appropriate. Being bluntly honest with children so you feel better about yourself and “not being guilty of lying,” is not.

    1. We should all seek to be honest in all situations. There are many ways to not hurt someone’s feelings when asked personal questions without lying. We should seek to promote truth in all situations. History and true science has proven the prophecies and Biblical claims concerning Jesus Christ to be factual. His death and Resurrection are two MAJOR events that have been proven time and time again. Proving that a fat man in a red sleigh with 12 flying reindeer is a little bit harder—because it is simply fictional. Anytime we teach fiction as truth to our children–it is indeed being dishonest. My children deserve better than that—they deserve the truth! It’s not about feeling better about myself, it’s about having a trusting relationship with my kids as well as pleasing my Creator.

  10. As always Allison, right on point. This is such a great reminder for us in teaching our kids integrity. Thanks for encouraging us to make the right choice rather than the easy or fun choice. Sharing this on my Facebook page! Blessings, Jenny x

  11. I am so thankful to have grown up with parents who always told me the truth. As you mentioned, it was shared in the appropriate way – as with the “where do babies come from?” scenario. I wasn’t able to get away with lying – and my parents held themselves to the same standard!

  12. When we had our first child 4 years ago we decided to not do the Santa thing either. The main reason was because we didn’t feel comfortable lying to our kids. We were faced with family disappointment and right out criticism for our choice. It was hard, but we feel so much better about our choice.

    I wanted to ask you, because this is the first year I have a hold in school, what do you tell your child about Santa? How do you tell them to approach the subject with their peers?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Kelly!

      That is a tough one! I try to encourage my kids not to get into a “Santa” issue with their peers/friends. I try to encourage them to remember that decisions is between them and their parents. Though our family is firm on some things, we also realize there are certain things that aren’t worth debating, so we encourage our kids to only give their opinions on those issues when asked, but in a polite manner instead of yelling, “WHAT?! Santa’s not real!” :) Hope that helps!

      1. The way I handled this was to tell my kids that because I value honesty and telling them the truth, I do not tell them Santa is real. However some parents want their kids to believe in Santa and it is not our job to change their minds. If someone asks you if you believe in Santa it’s okay to say no, but we should not go around telling kids that Santa’s not real.

  13. This is a great post! it’s so important to think about these things and what’s important to you. If you don’t want your kids to lie then you can’t lie to them. Just like parents who swear in front of/to their kids shouldn’t be shocked when their child starts swearing, how could you get mad at your kids when lying is what you taught them?

    I want my children to always know that they can count on me when I tell them something is true. I want them to know that I both expect and give honesty.

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