Why do parents lie to their growing child?

“First….Complete school and you will be relieved. Second…..Complete college and you are a free bird. Third….Complete master and you are settled. Actually, nothing ends it just goes on and on…Responsibilities go on coming….. I have grown up by holding this sweet lie of my parents!”


Evergreen sweet lies of our Parents………

  • “Sleep early son unless the monster will come and take you away to a black world.
  • Stop crying my little daughter, if you stopped crying a fairy will come and give you a chocolate.
  • Don’t wake kids on Christmas morning at 3 am because if you will get out of bed before the Sunrise, you will turn into reindeer.
  • If you don’t dry yourself properly after showering, your body hair is going to grow out making you look like a furry bear, like the way you water plants and they grow, similarly, you water your body and if you don’t dry, your hair grows. 
  • Show your excellence in your mark card then all will be treated with you like a king/ queen.
  • Become an IITian and then do MBA from IIMs. Replaceable with Top degrees from other streams then you are destined for success. If you don’t do that, you have wasted all our efforts for so many years.”

When I was a kid and browsing through my parent marriage album I started crying as I was not able to see myself in any of the images then my Mom told me that “I was the one taking the photo’s and that’s the reason for my absence in all those photographs.” I’ve grown up now and I laugh at these things when my parents tell me!

Above these are all those sweet lies which our parents often used to tell us since our childhood to adolescence period.

Why do parents tell lie?…………..

Those Brainstorming ideas, our parents implement for us during our upbringing to simplify the complex which is difficult to explain the entire situation during that minor age, sometimes to preserve a child’s innocence or to surprise a child with gifts, Santa.

  • We lie to our kids to make things easier for us sometimes. But the main reason we lie to them is that we want to protect them from things they aren’t old/mature enough to handle. Like we don’t want to see them sick, from eating a whole package of Chocolate. We don’t want them to be upset we were injured, when they couldn’t have prevented it, even if they were there.
  • Sometimes maybe the answer is unknown to the parents itself but their ego doesn’t allow them to confess their ignorance in front of their kids and to use lie become the only easiest option, to keep their own respect in the eyes of their kids.
  • Many times parents do it in an attempt to protect their children from the ugly truths of life or feel too uncomfortable to answer.
  • No child should have to worry about grown-up things so in an effort to shield them, lies come into play.
  • Lying can also save us from admitting to being wrong and the need to offer the apology.
  • Admitting to being wrong or to doing wrong is not an easy thing to do, it definitely isn’t the path of least resistance and again, adults somehow think they can get away with it when dealing with children. It arouses the issue of power loss, which makes it even more difficult for a parent to offer an apology to a kid. As a result, few parents can’t even imagine that they could offer apologies to their children. 
  • So basically, lying in many instances equals the path of least resistance and parents generally love the paths of least resistance moreover when they feel they can outsmart others then why not try it especially when dealing with children.
  • It’s easier and convenient for parents in many life situations. It’s relatively “safe” parents like to think so.

Don’t force them………..

Parents should never decide their children’s career. But what they can do is influence their children so that they can take such life-changing decisions themselves. It’s a strong belief where the recipe for success is only one. Get a degree from the top university or you are doomed.

I have many friends who have taken up engineering just because their parents forced them to do so. I know this one particular guy who takes excellent photos and wanted to join a visual communication course. His parents were completely against the courses. He hasn’t completed his first year due to many back papers so, the result may be this guy as miserable as the next aspiring engineering student.

Why do parents deceive their children?………..

  • To hide shortcomings of authority figures. Protect a child’s view of their heroes like hiding father’s smoking habit, uncle’s late-night homecoming, etc.
  • Parents also need sometimes privacy when they don’t want to answer the question, “What are you watching or reading, dad?”
  • Outing with friends and eating a treat without sharing with children and will sneak it makes us sometimes selfish.
  • Deceiving should be the last resort employed by the parent. It’s harmful and creates a sense of betrayal in the child in the long run even though the intention was harmless. Moreover, as a consequence, they lose trust in the parents, and any attempts to discipline them in the future e.g. lying is bad etc. when you will be blamed and held accountable for setting such an example in the first place.

Also, it will come back to bite you as they will surely start deceiving you because you taught them well. How would you feel if your child deceives you? It sets a bad example and the kid learns that being deceptive is fine and continues the trend in his whole life irrespective of the relation.

Why not use the objective truth?…………

Children only learn by imitating their parents and the personality of a Kid majorly depends on the environment in which he/she is being bought up. Lies in themselves aren’t necessarily bad. We lie to ourselves all the time about our control over events, about our impending death, we create illusions as a means to cope with the circumstances.

More vital, children don’t process with the subtlety, complexity, and knowledge base that we do. Children hear in a different language of more literal, simplistic, magical, etc. than what we speak. Speaking a truth in adult language to a child does not mean the child will hear the truth that we intend.

Don’t use imaginary people to raise your kids like Santa will come in wee hours for fulfilling their all wishes.This lie makes the child look forward, to meeting with Santa anxiously and when they found that’s not happened, its just an absurd illusion created by the parents, then its become a deceive for the children.

For instance, when you tell a 5-year-old girl the truth that a significant % of women will be sexually abused during their lifetimes, the girl thought that “I am not safe! I will be hurt when I grow up!”. Is that the truth? Is your statistical “truth” processed as you intended it?

We are lying in reality, actually there is the possibility of the reality but still, it’s not entirely the truth. We don’t tell kids the objective truth that “Is a woman really very weak physically, that she couldn’t protect herself and what is the preventive measure, which keeps a girl safe from the hand of brutality or animalism of physical desire”….. because they cannot process it correctly. We lie in order to we translate our meaning into what the child can understand, we convey the intent, not the truth.

So the goal of communicating with children is ‘clear communication’, not objective truth.

When we soften the truth?………..

Sometimes we soften the truth about things that are beyond comprehension for the young.

If your 5-year-old asks where babies come from, what comprehension could they possibly have if you tried to tell them? If you did, and they tried to repeat it the next day at nursery school, based on their comprehension and experience, it would probably turn into a phone call to you, wondering what’s up?

Children have the tendency whenever hears any new piece of information they want to tell people because they love passing on new knowledge. So when they share the things which they learned by their teachers with us, it’s much more fun for them and us if we feign ignorance that ‘we really don’t know that’ and let them give us a small logical lecture on that. It grows up their self-confidence about that gained knowledge.

Keep it simple for teenagers………..

I can think of a few situations when parents shouldn’t tell kids the entire truth. I think, especially for young children. That doesn’t mean you dump things on them just because they are true. You can explain things at an age-appropriate level, say……

Why we are getting divorced…

This is one of the significant issues for most of the parents nowadays. Neither we share our adult problem nor its good to burden our children with such court issue. When they will be grown up then only we can explain.

Things do not age appropriate……

Again, too much detail isn’t necessary. For instance when your 5 years old kid ask you that “how the baby got into mummy’s tummy.” Then either you skip form that query or trick fully replied that “mom and dad gave each other a special hug” and they rely on your said wordings because a 5 years old really doesn’t need to know about ovulation, sperm, egg or copulation.

My sister told her 8 years old daughter that tampons are especially band-aids for mom because she doesn’t want to explain menstruation to someone with a limited vocabulary and capacity to understand. Also, she doesn’t want her to think that mom is bleeding out or dying as she wouldn’t know bleeding is sometimes ok.

To make them aware about the cruel world……..

I’m not saying you shouldn’t talk to your children about kidnapping, abuse, prostitution, rape or porn, but the world is scary enough without scaring kids more.

Your children didn’t know about rape until they asked, not because you hid it from them, but because you didn’t want them to associate sex with violence at a young age. But when they asked what the word meant, because they read it, you should tell them.

They also didn’t know women sometimes sold their bodies for money and danced naked or had sex in a movie. They will get exposed to it and you’ll want them to ask you about it.

We know what and when you need the truth………

Stop Lying to your little one, just for the sake of avoiding conversation or making him happy. Instead, say the truth and stay calm in every situation. Children believing in magic and having a sense of wonder, excitement, and amazement is a special thing. Things which make kids believe and experience joy are never a bad thing.

We don’t necessarily lie, but perhaps preserve innocence, maybe manipulate with imaginary incentives to behave, like Santa, but, preserving imagination and working with innocent people who have no experience to face your truth, is not a bad thing. Truth comes soon enough, let the innocence and imagination thrive until your children tell you they are ready and ask the right questions to show they can comprehend.

This is why keeping communication open with your kids is so important. Not telling them more than they can or should handle and allow them to preserve their innocence are great reasons to not tell them the complete truth. There is plenty of time for reality, most of our lives.

Parenting is very tough but interesting job. We have to be really careful in every step we take before our kids. Cause they are watching us and learning from us every moment.

Never lie to a child. The truth is always less harmful than a lie. The truth will always be revealed before long and you will end up as a lier, an untrustworthy person. Don’t worry, they will forgive you and probably do the same with their children.

However, not telling the whole truth, leaving something out due to the age and capacity to understand the child, is good parenting surely. So, lie a little, if it keeps them young. They have decades to learn what the real world is like.  


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