Motherhood, Toddler

Lying to Our Children

There is something that has been bugging me and I battled with the idea of writing this post to share, but now I’m certain that I need to get it off my chest.  And the best way I know how is to write.

Let me set the scene for you, since this one has taken place too many times to count. I’m in a public setting, could be my community center or a relative’s home for dinner. And my child is offered a soda, and I politely decline explaining that we haven’t introduced/allowed her to have soda yet (she’s 2.5 years old) and the person who offered it quickly retrieves the drink and proceeds to tell my daughter that “The soda is too spicy for you!” Or “The drink is medicine, it’s not for you”.

Should we be making a habit of using white lies to get our child to avoid/comply with a rule?

My daughter has seen us drink soda occasionally in our home, several times. We never tell her it is spicy nor medicine. Now that this person has said those words, does my daughter think we have been lying to her or that the person is making it up? Is it not confusing to a child? And is it fair to lie to her like that? Even if she is little, even if the white lie is small, or easy or convenient. Should we be making a habit of using white lies to get our child to avoid/comply with a rule?

My parents are from India, and I consider myself both Indian and American, and in our culture it is often acceptable to use this kind of lie to deter a child from doing something that we don’t approve of. Soda is medicine. Chocolate is spicy. The police will come to kidnap you if you don’t sit in your car seat or buckle your seat belt. If you don’t stop misbehaving, the doctor will give you a painful injection. And the trend goes on and on. Is it odd that I see potential danger in this kind of mentality? And at what point do we stop with these lies and actually begin to practice honesty with our children?

I apologize for the rant, and if it sounds like I am mad, because I am truly not. My mother says those kinds of things all the time to my daughters, and I grew up hearing them also. Because it is that much of a norm in our homes. But my husband and I felt that we don’t need to lie to our daughters, at least not when she is able to somewhat understand if we say no to something. Instead of lying, we just tell her that the soda is “Baba juice” or “Mummy juice”, and she can have it when she is older. Period. And the more we have said it to her, the more it became enforced and now that it is established, she doesn’t even bother asking for it anymore.

I think that’s what bothers me. My daughter doesn’t ask for it, cry for it or really care for it at all. Other people offer soda to her, and then feel the need to cover it up with a lie, and then I have to counter that and explain to her that No it isn’t spicy nor medicine. I have to do damage control over the whole thing, and it doesn’t have to be that way if she weren’t lied to in the first place. I think that lying to her is belittling and unfair, wheres we should treat her like a person. Not a person who is old enough to make their own choices, but at least a person who we can be honest with about what they can and cannot have.

Whenever I’m in a situation like that now, I go one step further and explain my reasoning to the adult, and once I’ve made my point, they often do agree.

I’m curious to know how other parents feel about this, and if you’ve ever come across a situation like this with your child. Am I crazy or overreacting? Please do share in the comments!

Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 2.58.45 PM
My innocent looking nephews, hard to lie to their faces.
Mission Mindfulness


17 thoughts on “Lying to Our Children”

  1. I think it depends what is being said really – I think all parents use little white lies every now and then but maybe when it comes to things like soda I would avoid saying it’s medecine as that is confusing. Sarah #FabFridayPost

  2. I really like this post Sumra, I think its important to stop and question things that are just ‘accepted’ or something that people often do and seem harmless. I definitely think that giving children more of the facts is more effective than we sometimes worry it will be, even when they’re very young. #thesatsesh

    1. Thank you for this comment! As an adult I find myself questioning many things that are accepted, I think it’s part of me growing up. And there’s a desire to change things from the way I’m used to.

  3. Honesty is so important, and yes, we have had a white lie or two. Stop that screaming or the police may come! If you talk like a baby they may put you back in nursery… I need not to do those things as well. Great post, and thank you! #fabfridaypost xoxo

  4. No, I don’t think you are over reacting at all. I also tells my kids that’s your juice and this is “mama juice” and they can have this when they are older. My boy is 6yo – he did tried soda once or twice when he is in care of his aunty and uncle. At first he doesn’t like it, but as he gets older – he likes it more. We still don’t give him soda drink at home. And when we go out if he want soda – then he is only allow sparkling water, and it doesn’t happen often as he usually order fruit juice anyway. Just like when a shop keeper is being so kind and gives them lollies for free! It’s very kind and rude at the same time. It so frustrating for me too when people does that. I feel you sister! xx

    Thank you very much for linking up with us on #FabFridayPost

    1. Interesting points you made. I feel kids are so smart, they know their boundaries, especially if we have enforced it. And of course, we all use some sort of white lies for safety for example. But i think in situations like this, it’s best to establish a rule instead of using a lie as a convenience. Thanks for commenting!

  5. You’re neither crazy nor overreacting. I have similar with our kids. My niece drinks coca cola sometimes at family get togethers. I don’t let my 7 year old son near it. He asks why she’s allowed it, I just say parents have different rules but it’s got loads of sugar in it and I don’t want him to have it. I don’t do it loudly to make a scene or anything but I won’t lie about it. He is very accepting of the answer. #thesatsesh xx

    1. Thanks for sharing this, as I am getting closer to this stage because my almost 3 year old is starting to pick up on the fact that our rules may differ from other children. Thank you for the tip.

  6. I agree with you, it’s important not to lie to our children. Well done for standing up for what you believe and explaining your reasoning to the adults. I think as children grow up they have to quickly understand that each family has different rules and that thats ok. Thanks for sharing and linking up with us #FabFridayPost

  7. #thesatsesh totes valid…. my son knows (from the word go) that the father Christmas’s you see around aren’t the real ones. They work on behalf of ‘the magic of christmas’… I’m not going to stop his imagination but at the same time, I’m not going to lie either…in time he will work it all out and be happy with it. At 4yrs old he knows how ‘he thinks’ babies are made – and I’m happy with his version, I’m not going to correct him or tell him he is right (feed the lie). Its a balancing act but an important one. P.s at 34 yrs i still don’t like fizzy drinks 🙂

    1. I completely agree with this. I don’t think we have to be extreme about anything. And I think that’s why I get annoyed because hearing Coke is medicine or spicy is a bit too extreme in my eyes. But letting a kid imagine is completely fine and should be encouraged up till a certain age. I guess it’s a fine line? 🤷‍♀️

  8. I really like this post and I think I’m probably guilty of maybe telling white lies to the kids when they were younger almost automatically but you’re right that must be so confusing for them!!! #thesatsesh

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