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When is it okay to lie to children?

By Alice Bradley

“The Easter Bunny’s not real, right?” Henry asked me one night. We had just finished reading a bedtime story, and had moved on to the bedtime deep philosophical discussion.

Without thinking, I replied, “Nah.”

He didn’t say anything.

Crap, I thought. Had I made a grave error? I didn’t think much was at stake, when it came to the Easter Bunny. Easter doesn’t really hold any of the magic and wonder of Christmas—at least, not in this house. I didn’t see why we had to maintain a convoluted story regarding a giant bunny just for some Jelly Bellies in a basket and perhaps a Transformer. (So Easter-appropriate! Just as the Lord transformed, so doth the Autobot!)

“Well, what do you think?” I asked him, and he said, “I don’t know.” Then he changed the subject. But I could hear his little mind-cogs turning.

Henry brought up the Easter Bunny again a few days later, to my mom. She strenuously insisted that the Easter Bunny was real. REAL REAL REAL, don’t listen to your mother. Henry looked at me. My own mother had just called me a liar, in front of my kid! Back to therapy for me!

“I guess some people just believe in him,” I said.

“You don’t,” said Henry. “But I do.” And that was that.

I talked about Santa Claus back in December, and how we had chosen the myth over the reality. I’m more comfortable with that decision now that I’ve seen him make the same choice regarding the Easter Bunny, but still, I don’t feel entirely great about it. If he asked me directly about Santa, I don’t know what I’d say.

I started thinking about lies again when I read the post “Lies I’ve Told My 3-Year-Old”, in the blog “Heading East.” The lies Raul shares involve such fantastic claims as “trees talk to each other at night” and “we are all held together by invisible threads.” I don’t think these are lies, exactly, just fable-like tidbits. I’m not sure I would go so far as to insist these were true, but if they were conveyed in a playful way, if my kid wanted to play along and create his own wild ideas, I think they’re lovely. (Although I wouldn’t ever suggest to any child ever that any human has the ability to fly. I’m paranoid that way.) The response to his post (magnified by a link from Metafilter) was huge, with reactions ranging from admiration to abject horror. Divorced from context, these “lies” could be seen as either affectionate and harmless or permanently scarring. Doesn’t it all depend on what your child is getting out of it?

I tried to think about what other lies I’ve told my son. A few months back Henry’s friend approached me during a playdate with two stubborn Lego pieces that wouldn’t come apart. I did as he asked, and for no apparent reason other than my love of warping children, I stated, “I did that so easily because I have powers.” “Yeah, right,” said Henry’s friend, and then joined Henry in the playroom and whispered, “Does your mother really have powers?” “I don’t think so,” said Henry, and then they were both quiet for a minute. I could hear them thinking, does she? Now, of course, if they had pressed the issue, I would have confessed that my powers are limited to pulling apart tiny Lego pieces. But it didn’t come up again, so I left it. Then a few days later Henry told me that he has powers. One of them, he said, is that he can see any event that happened in the past. “I just shut my eyes, and I can see it right there,” he told me. I don’t know if I can take credit for this idea of his, but I love that he can entertain these thoughts, that he feels like he has special abilities above and beyond the average mortal. If my ridiculous claim nudged him in that direction, I have no problem with it.

There are lies I wouldn’t tell him. If I were crying I wouldn’t pretend I wasn’t. (P.S. this scenario has occurred more times than I wish to count.) If he overheard some grim statistic on the radio, I wouldn’t tell him it was all a funny joke. (“3,000 dead, get it? Ha! Haaaa?”)

I wouldn’t lie just out of laziness, to make my life easier. Part of my job is to help him learn that he can weather disappointments, and if that means telling a more difficult truth (“No, we can’t buy that toy right now”) instead of sidestepping the issue with a lie (“Oops, the store’s closed!”), I’ll choose the truth.

Still, though, in telling these truths, I’m almost certainly lying by omission. I wouldn’t tell him specifically why I was upset, if the truth was too much for him. I wouldn’t provide him with specifics on the war. I would provide him with the information he can handle and no more than that. Those are lies I can live with.

So, your turn. Do you lie to your children? Tell the truth, now.

Published April 18, 2008. Last updated April 30, 2017.
Alice Bradley
About the Author

Alice Bradley

Alice Bradley was a regular contributor to Alpha Mom, writing about current events as they related to parenting. You can read about her daily life at her personal blog, Finslippy.


Alice Bradley was a regular contributor to Alpha Mom, writing about current events as they related to parenting. You can read about her daily life at her personal blog, Finslippy.

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  • SuburbanCorrespondent

    April 18, 2008 at 11:26 am

    All the time. As much as possible. As in just a minute ago, when I told my 5-year-old girl that I was “working.” But, nope, I was reading your blog. So, shoot me.
    And knowing when to tell them the truth about things like the Easter Bunny, etc., really depends on the individual child. I knew my 5-year-old had no qualms about hearing that she was right, the Easter Bunny wasn’t real. So that’s okay. And I had no qualms telling her to lie to her little sister until she figured that fact out for herself. Life is complicated.
    But my friend’s little girl – who came to her and said, “Santa isn’t real, is he?” When her mother said, “You’re right, honey,” the poor kid burst into tears.
    Ain’t parenthood fun?

  • Fabs

    April 18, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    I struggle with this every holiday; St. Patrick’s Day practically killed me because the kids came home from school talking about Leprechaun traps. WTF? Now we are making up stories about Leprechauns sneaking into our house???? Then the kids have so many questions about these made up things (Easter Bunny, Santa, etc.), that we make up more lies. Honestly, I am looking forward to when they are older and are smart enough to figure out these things aren’t real.

  • Fawn

    April 18, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    Y’know Alice, I wouldn’t call the situations you bring up in the last paragraph lying by omission. Are we lying every time we don’t tell people the full story? I don’t think so; it’s only “lying by omission” if the unrevealed facts would change a person’s decisions, opinions, or actions in a material way. I’m sure it’s enough for Henry to know you’re sad for him to be able to empathize with you; he doesn’t need to know more than that to be able to give you a hug.
    As for the other kinds of lies, my girl is only 2, so we haven’t even really had to worry too much yet on the question of telling stories about Santa and the Easter Bunny.
    But I did once tell her that her Play-Doh was “sleeping” because I just didn’t feel like getting it out when it was 5 minutes to bed-time. I was quite shocked that she remembered this the next day; she pointed to it and said, “Pay-Doh, seeping! Pay-Doh seeping!” D’oh! indeed.

  • katie

    April 18, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    My Dad asked me if I ever saw a baby pigeon and when I said no, he told me that is because baby pigeons are rats and they go through a process very similar to butterflies when they become pigeons. I believed this and educated my friends about it until I was twelve.

  • The Other Liberal Professor

    April 18, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    I lie to my kids regularly, in a sarcastic way, and they both completely get it (and if they don’t, I explain it to them). My 3-year-old son found a box of SweetTarts in my purse. He pulled them out and shook them, and then he asked me what they were. I told him:
    “A box of little rocks.”
    Within ten seconds he replied, smiling, “No, they are candy. See the little candies on the edge of the box?”
    My husband does this even more than I do, and my kids occasionally come to me to find out if Daddy is telling the truth. That conversation always goes like this:
    “Mom, is ___ true?”
    “Did Daddy tell you that?”
    “And what do we know about Daddy?”
    “Daddy is a goomba head.”
    “So, what do you think about ___?”
    “Guess not.”
    “Good job.”
    “Daddy is a goomba head!” was one of my youngest kid’s first sentences.
    As for Santa, well, we hang on to him. My 7-year-old came home from school with questions, and I asked him what he thought. He said he thought Santa was real. I said I did, too. I asked him why, and he replied, “Well, there’s no way my parents have time to shop and buy all those presents and get everything we want! You guys are way too busy!” I’m still not quite sure how to take that one. . .

  • edj

    April 18, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    Your last paragraph isn’t talking about lying, but about giving our children the amount of information that they can handle.
    As for lying, well, let’s not call it that. Let’s call it creative parenting. Doesn’t that sound better?

  • islaygirl

    April 18, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    I agree with edj. With difficult topics, I try to be honest, but only give her the barest bones of information. If she asks for more after that, I’ll go to the next step. A friend of ours, another mommy, was killed in a car accident over Thanksgiving, so we had a lot of opportunity to practice that.
    But random lying, no. I ~do~ feel funny about Santa, but we perpetuate the myth. (Though it was really tempting to be truthful when she was terrified of this guy coming down the chimney in the middle of the night …)

  • marymuses

    April 18, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    As a nanny, I tell the truth about serious things that the kids can handle (yes, people do die in wars, yes, some children don’t have food to eat every day), and when I can’t provide a full explanation (due to the subject matter being too mature for them or it just being something they don’t need to be privy to), I will tell them that it’s something that’s kind of hard for kids to understand. Surprisingly, they have not yet asked me WHY MARY WHY MARY WHY is it hard for kids to understand? I’m treasuring the days that I can still get away with it. They are seven and eight now, so I know those days are numbered.
    I do, however, lie to a certain extent when it comes to things like the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. I remember when I figured out that those things were not real, and it was pretty natural for me. It made me feel smart that I figured it out at the same time that my brother, who was two years older, figured it out as well. I never considered it lying on my parents’ part, just that they gave me something a little bit magical until I was too old to believe it anymore.

  • steph

    April 19, 2008 at 12:15 am

    I have a friend who told her kids McDonalds was only open on the weekends. “No, honey, we can’t go to McDonalds today. It’s Thursday. It’s closed.” Ingenious! Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, right?

  • Mauigirl

    April 19, 2008 at 1:03 am

    I am all for “lying” if it keeps a child from worrying about something or protects him or her from a truth that is too scary at their age. I remember being terrified when I heard on the news that the Chinese had the hydrogen bomb when I was 9 or 10 years old. My mother told me not to worry because they didn’t have the ability to get the bomb to us, something about not having the right planes. It was probably totally made up (and certainly untrue within a short time, if not) but it comforted me and I was able to go to sleep that night! Some things are worth lying about.

  • Marcy

    April 19, 2008 at 5:03 am

    This has been on my mind a lot lately (my son is barely 2.5 months). I am a firm believer in the Montessori philosophy, though one of the things they advocate is that children can’t handle anything fantasy-related till they’re 4-5 yrs old and can distinguish reality from fiction. So, no fairy tales, no Santa Claus, etc. I’m debating whether I want to stick to this strictly, or if reading some Dr Seuss from time to time would really do much harm. I don’t think hubby and I will do the traditional Santa Claus deal with our son, though then we just open him up to “ruining it” for other kids if he doesn’t buy into the fantasy. So, yeah, I don’t know.

  • Fayomeara

    April 19, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Well, let me tell you that this issue will get a lot more complicated in the years to come. I have two sons, 13 and 16. How honest should one be when it comes to information about stuff that may be appropriate or at least tolerable for adults but not necessarily for teens. Or about stuff we may have done when we were their age….. I’d like to hear the parents of teenagers weigh in on this.

  • Fairly Odd Mother

    April 19, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    Well, along with Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny (which, also, fell this year to reason—why is the bunny so much less believable than the Tooth Fairy???), I’ve also told this one: when we are shopping, and the kids fall in love with a stuffed animal or doll, I tell them that the toy ‘lives’ at the store with the others and we can’t take it home. My 7 year old is catching on though.
    And, just for the record, I don’t think of Santa as ‘lying’ per se. I think it helps kids believe the unbelievable. I STILL remember waiting for Santa with a certain awe and excitement, yet finding out he was my parents was not a crushing blow to my psyche. This type of ‘faith’ helped me and my kids get through the awful death of my father—-saying he is in ‘heaven’ in the sky was a helluva lot easier and comforting than to say that he may just be dead and gone.
    I may have to fib a bit when my kids ask me about my, ahem, wilder days. You know, I REALLY was a 30 year old virgin when I got married!

  • Schnozz

    April 20, 2008 at 3:35 am

    I think it depends on the kid you have. I was a pretty smart little kid with a sharp memory, but I was still a little kid–in other words, I was bright enough to get all concerned about Santa breaking into our house, but not bright enough to realize, HEY IDIOT, YOUR PARENTS ARE LYING TO YOU. I really took that stuff to heart, and I’m very glad my parents had a general anti-lying policy (they would never threaten me and say that some awful thing was going to happen just because I didn’t eat my dinner or something). They told me the truth whenever they could.
    Of course, their pro-truth stance completely screwed me over, because it helped me trust them … just in time for them to lie to me about Santa and the Easter Bunny and all that. I have zero idea why these lies are not considered lies just because everyone tells them. I really don’t think my parents saw those lies as similar to all the lies they criticized other parents for (“What kind of idiot lies to their kids and says that they’ll have to get a shot if they don’t behave at the doctor’s office? How are their kids ever going to know what to believe?”).
    Anyway, I thus believed my parents about the whole Santa/Tooth Fairy thing, who had never been known to lie to me about anything else, ever. Thus, Christmas was an incredibly anxious time. Had I been good? I would gauge my behavior and decide that no, I had definitely not been, especially when my parents weren’t looking. So I would nearly give myself ulcers worrying over how ashamed my parents would be of me when they saw the coal in my stocking and knew the truth.
    Yes, I really was that neurotic at five. I took the whole thing very literally, because again, my parents WERE USUALLY HONEST WITH ME.
    When I got a few years older, especially after a humiliating incident in which I defended the existence of the tooth fairy to my peers because my PARENTS SAID SO, only to discover that I had stuck up for them without cause, I resented the entire thing. It gave me Inexplicable and Inexpressible Angry Little Kid Feelings to know that adults had made a chump of me just because they could. I also felt ripped off because even at that age, I thought my parents were hypocrites for lying to me when they had promised they wouldn’t.
    Of course, now that I’m an adult myself, I know they were just trying to make life fun for me. All the same, NOT APPRECIATED at the time and it completely backfired later when I decided I didn’t believe in Jesus, either, because he just started to seem a whole lot like the Santa that everyone keeps on believing in.
    I think there’s a difference between lying to your kids and only telling them what they can handle. My parents, while they are wonderful people whom I tease about this now, really could have spared me a lot of grief by just showing me what’s great about real life, instead of making up some creepy guy in a red velvet suit.
    I used to think I was some neurotic blowhard who was in the minority–that most other people really enjoyed the magic of their childhoods. But I’ve run into a lot of other people who say the same thing–that the lies generally confused or scared them, even as they played along.
    Of course, I still may be a neurotic blowhard, but your kid could be too. So lie with extreme caution, and spare them all the little-kid fretting. Because seriously, what’s sadder than little-kid fretting?
    On the other hand, if you don’t want to lie (and telling your children things that aren’t true is a lie, regardless of what our culture says), I think it’s great to present the whole Santa thing to them as a fun fairytale. I was a really imaginative kid and never had any problem processing things like that, as long as they were presented as a fun story and not the actual truth.
    Wow, this is a whole post in itself, but I’m going to leave it here, where it’s relevant. Sorry for the humongo comment!

  • MystikMamma

    April 20, 2008 at 10:54 am

    Of course I do. I believe there are topics and situations that are not meant for children. I believe there is a time and place for certain ideas to be discovered. I also believe that in time all things will avail themselves as they need to be. If choosing to hold back the truth is better at that moment, then this is my choice.
    I am a child survivor of sexual abuse. I have seen and experienced things that children should not have to go through. As a parent of two young boys, I struggle with what is appropriate and what is not. I don’t want them being confused, acting out, hurting others etc, like I did. So when it comes to full disclosure, I choose when and where case by case.
    As for myths and fantasy, who is to say we are not held together by an invisible thread? Maybe these ideas are more real than what we identify as truth. Maybe there really are little fairies that help guide our way and place little pieces of life in front of us. I would rather believe in this reality than believe in our current global state of affairs.
    In the end, it is all a matter of relevance. Time and place dictate much as to my parenting myths, legends, truths and disclosures.

  • Lauxa

    April 20, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    What? You’re lying to your son and telling him that humans can’t fly?
    Probably a good choice for now…

  • Sheryl

    April 20, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    As new parents (a phrase almost always followed by an illustration of a monumental boo-boo) we decided right from the get-go we would tell our child the Truth about Santa. There would be no LIES about Santa and his flying reindeer!
    So we told her the truth. No Emily, there is no Santa Claus! We were brave, and strong. We should have been on Oprah. And then, a few months later she mentioned something about Santa, because she had completely forgotten the truth. So we dutifully corrected her! Again! And then, a few more times! To speak forth the truth, in power!
    And finally she kept talking about him, and we threw in the towel, and pretty soon we we’re leaving cookies on the hearth, and constructing elaborate stories about how he could travel the whole earth in one night. The end.

  • Frankie

    April 20, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    I never lie to my kid. About anything. Ever.
    OMG! I am SO lying!!!! I lie to my kid about almost EVERYTHING!!! See, I just lied to you! I am incapable of telling the truth! Help!
    Ok, I like “creative parenting”. I will hold on to Santa long after he catches on. Tooth fairy, too. And probably the Easter Bunny, although that big goofy rabbit kind of creeps me out.
    But he has heard nothing but the truth on issues like “where did I come from?” and ” what happened to that little girl?” and “what will happen if I stop brushing my teeth forever?”.
    You get the gist.

  • Rose

    April 21, 2008 at 5:31 am

    Again, I have no children. But then again, I was a child somewhere in the not too distant past and what my parents usually did was let me figure out the truth on my own. That and they did a lot of “I don’t know, what do you think?” or made me look it up in the dictionary, encyclopedia, etc. I think this was a great service to me and made me realize that if you want the facts, ma’am, and only the facts, that you have to figure it out for yourself and shouldn’t rely on people to tell you the truth. Because people lie. Except for my parents. Hmmm…brainwashing?
    P.S. Obviously this does not work with smaller children. I recommend saying, “I don’t know honey, what do you think?” a lot. 🙂

  • Jennifer

    April 21, 2008 at 6:32 am

    We do Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, and we’ll probably do the Tooth Fairy. I don’t consider that lying. I never thought my parents had lied to me. Actually, I loved that they had given me years of Santa and the Tooth Fairy. My childhood was more magical because I had those fantastic characters to think about.
    I don’t lie to my son about other things. Obviously I do not discuss war, torture and the deathtoll in Iraq with him. He’s only three. Sheesh.
    As for the crying, I normally don’t cry in front of him, but he has seen me cry once and asked me if I was sad. Of course I said yes. If I’d said no, that would be lying, but even worse, that would be incredibly confusing to him at a time when he is learning to understand and express his feelings.
    Also, Schnozz’s comment above? Definitely neurotic.

  • Tamar Smith

    April 21, 2008 at 11:04 am

    I don’t have any issues about the little lies parents tell their kids. Can you have chocolate? No, you can’t, there isn’t any more. Why did I lie? Because I want to eat it later while I’m watching Lost. Now, that has nothing to do with helping my child accept real life – when she’s had some cookies and I don’t want her to have anymore, I just tell her, no honey, you’ve had two already, no more tonight. I never lie about how I feel, I don’t lie about MOST things – but there are little things I fib about, and yeah, it makes life easier sometimes. I don’t consider Santa a lie. Of course its not technically true, but its magic – and its fun. And soon enough she’ll realize its not true, as I did, and she’ll move on easily – and she’ll have the fun of telling the tale a little while longer so that her little sister will continue to believe. Speaking of lies – my dad was a notorious tall tale teller. He told us that the statue on top of the Municipal Building in Manhattan was him in his bathrobe! I believed it for years…

  • Sonja

    April 21, 2008 at 11:16 am

    I haven’t really lied yet, but I kind of want to start. I have omitted some truth, mostly about death. Occasionally there’s a dead animal on the road or something, and my 2 year old daughter says, “What’s that?” and I said, “It’s a goose!” and keep on walking, not mentioning the fact that the goose is dead. I guess that’s kind of like lying. I just know that if I introduce the death concept to her, I’ll be talking about nothing else for the foreseeable future, and I’m not really up for that right now.

  • dgm

    April 21, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    We don’t “do” the Santa myth, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, etc. My husband calls this “preaching Santaism.” And yet our kids still find a way to have a rip-roaring time on every holiday. We never sat them down and had a talk with them, but if they asked point-blank “is Santa real?” we didn’t lie. The funny thing is that my daughter has never been a believer (she is the analytical one) and she went through a phase where she got pissed every time people (esp. adults) spoke of Santa to her because she knew he wasn’t real. My son, however, knows he’s not real but still insists on believing, and that’s fine too. We won’t go out of our way to dispel him of the notion because we’ve already told him when he asked.
    Marcy’s comment intrigued me b/c my son is also at a Montessori and he told the class at circle time that Santa wasn’t real (even though we tell the kids they are not to discuss it with their classmates or friends), and the teacher got mad at ME. She said he was “too young to know,” which, in turn, pissed me off.

  • Kimmers

    April 21, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    I think the lies that you tell to enhance your children’s childhood are ok. I will definitely keep Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy going for as long as my kids will buy it. I don’t remember ever feeling resentful toward my parents for giving me those fantasies, and I have a lot of great Christmas morning memories that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
    If my (as yet hypothetical) kids ever asked me about something that I felt wasn’t age appropriate, I’d probably try to simplify it down to a level I thought they would accept without being traumatized by. I don’t think I’d ever put them off altogether. I had the kind of mom who NEVER refused to answer a question I asked her, and I always really valued that. I still have friends who call my mom for advice! I want to be the kind of mom that my kids feel they can ask the tough questions and get a straight answer.
    But sheesh, I’m not gonna kill Santa! Every kid needs a little fantasy. 🙂

  • joe

    April 21, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    oh, i have to side completely with MystikMamma.
    When children ask about Buddha, people easily say “that’s what some people believe.” It is possible to do this with myths and fables and ALL other ideas we may not share.
    and, after all, we cannot prove a negative. does St. Nicholas/Santa Claus not exist because we’ve never met him? do atoms not exist because I cannot see them? The universe may or may not be literally held together by threads. I don’t believe we’ve yet had the final answer on that one (most of us are familiar with one of the most recent theories called, interestingly enough, SuperString). Obviously I am simplifying, but you get my point, I think.
    My parents presented Santa et al as not literally a man in a red coat, but as the embodiment–or the inspiration behind–the magical and mysterious and the possibility of joyful surprise. I was the only one in my 6th grade class who raised my hand when the teacher asked who still believed. Of course I was mocked, but it didn’t change my mind. I am glad I believed that my parents plus the universe conspired to get me a sled. And isn’t that pretty much how it truly works?
    I am smart, well-educated and logical, and would not come across as the kind of person who believes in faeries. But yet I do. I believe in the magic of the things we know and don’t know. As Mystik said, many of these ideas make a certain amount of sense, and when presented as ideas, as possibilities, cannot at all be called lying. I know so little, really. It would be arrogant of me to say for certain that so many beautiful things definitively do not exist.
    So…don’t forget to teach your children not to make fun of *my* children’s beliefs 😉 and i will do the same.

  • DQ

    April 21, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    What about the Brothers Grimm fairy tales? They are “lies,” but we introduce them into our children’s lives as equal literature to picture books (“dog, tree, etc.”). Fantasy and folklore and legends are things that seem to have gone by the wayside as we proceed with fervor into the digital age of data and more data. Facts! Data! Truths! These are our new deities. I think an active imagination and folklore are wonderful aspects of childhood, and I lament their disappearance. How can we re-introduce them without feeling like lying?

  • sozzled

    April 21, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    I’m all about the lying if it makes my job easier (for years my girls believed that on summer evenings the “free music truck” would drive through the neighborhood. I saved a ton of money and lots of tears if they had known he was really the Ice Cream Man. Now that they know the truth they are old enough to decide if they want to spend their OWN hard earned money on ice cream.
    On topics that matter I do try to be honest without necessarily giving them all the information they are asking for. When my 11 year old asked how many times I had had sex with her dad (my DH of 18 years) I said, hmm, well…..I don’t know exactly. and when she pressed for an answer I said “a lot, we’ve been married a LOONG time” (avoiding the whole before we were married discussion) and then I told her that some things are private, and while I was happy to answer most questions she had that some things were between me and dad, and she accepted that. And then I went and had a few stiff drinks….parenting the preteen…..gahhhh.

  • The Captain

    April 21, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    ‘Dad has eyes on the back of his head’ says Dad while driving, sneaking a cheeky smile at Mum.
    ‘NO you DON’T!’ wails Master 5
    Follows a lengthy pause where the possibility is pondered, decided that he just MAY HAVE eyes in the back of his head and desists offensive behaviour.
    Why oh why would we give up this fun??
    Creative parenting at its best.

  • ozma

    April 22, 2008 at 12:07 am

    I do lie a bit but I often exploit her ignorance. So, she’s getting her birthday party a couple months late this year. She thinks birthdays come and go at random intervals and I’m going of going with this since I did not have time to give her a real party with other kids, only a family party.
    I’ll have time in May a month and a half after her birthday. Now I’m trying to figure out what to tell the other guests. Lie to them? The people at her preschool already think we are serious weirdos. See, once you start lying when does it stop?

  • Rosie

    April 22, 2008 at 12:25 am

    Yes, I lie to them. No, I do not feel guilty.

  • Danielle

    April 22, 2008 at 11:18 am

    My twins boys are now 12. We three have had a ball with the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Santa etc.
    I even remember when the boys were toddlers we would get the big Crane Flys in our home. To me they look like Daddy Long Legs with wings. The boys were terrified even though they’re harmless.
    I told them they were fairies. We didn’t go into details and thank goodness they never found a dead one but even at 12 we smile at that.
    Not only did we do the Santa thing, they would write letters to Santa (I still have them) and then Santa would write back sometimes with the help of Rudolph (boy, he had horrid handwriting).
    The Easter Bunny would write a short note about how many eggs he had hidden.
    The Tooth Fairy would also write letters when picking up the teeth and they’ve turned into these huge stories with each letter it’s own little chapter that some day I may try to publish if even just as a family keepsake. By the way, she uses teeth to make her magic fairy dust. The cleaner the teeth, the better the dust and that’s why you should make special care to brush!
    The stories entail many of her friends and the many many goofs she routinely makes. Completely false obviously but to me, gloriously fun and memory making.
    Even at 12 and totally knowledgeable that this is all fiction, the Tooth Fairy writes her letters, the Easter Bunny will leave a few goodies and Santa still comes after the boys are asleep.
    When they started to ask me about the truth I’d give them open-ended answer/questions. I’d instead ask what they thought. When they came home saying their friend caught his dad doling out the Santa gifts I wondered aloud if parents have to do the job once kids stop believing.
    Slowly, with maturity, they’ve stopped believing but we also talk about that magic being within everyone (I know, cheesy) and we still play the game… but they know now it’s a game.
    I don’t feel like I lied to them about it since all those characters are real in my heart and they understand the magic of childhood.
    And I agree with telling your kids the truth about real world issues as long as it’s info they can handle. One rule I’ve held fast to is answer only what they’re asking; no more and no less, if possible.
    That came in handy with the whole where do babies come from? As they’ve matured they’ve come to me with bigger questions and asking for more detail. Again, I answer only what they ask. They’re welcome to ask more questions and we can have a discussion but often they’re satisfied with the answer given and they move on.
    As to those hard teenage questions… those are tough as I had a wild youth. They know my stance on drugs, smoking and drinking. They asked me if I had ever tried cigarettes and I was honest with them that yes I tried it, I thought it would make me cool, how dumb that was and I’m very very lucky I didn’t become addicted.
    We’ve also talked about some of my friends back then that weren’t so lucky.
    We’ve hit on the friends I’ve known that have died from drug use or DWIs now that they’re in Junior High.
    They haven’t asked me point blank if I’ve ever tried drugs. Right now I think they just assume I would never. However, when (and I think they will) they ask, I will be honest.
    Same with sex before marriage, sneaking out of the house etc etc.
    Thankfully, those questions haven’t come up yet though I know they will and fast.

  • LiteralDan

    April 22, 2008 at 11:25 am

    If anything, I’m usually TOO honest with my 4-year-old, and I fear I may be sucking the imagination and wonder from his childhood.
    However, if I could only get paid for the blogs I read and such, then I wouldn’t feel so bad letting my son believe that I really am “working” whenever I’m on the computer (like SuburbanCorrespondent said above).

  • Inzaburbs

    April 22, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    I’m with Rose on this one. I just let *them* tell *me* what the “truth” is as often as possible.
    A conversation from five minutes ago, while helping build a school for a toy turtle:
    “Now I need to make some chairs. Mommy, do turtles sit on chairs?”
    “Hmmm, what do you think? Do turtles sit on chairs?”
    “(thinks)…they do at turtle school!”
    Santa Claus? The Easter Bunny? Same conversation!

  • Lisa C

    April 22, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    Fantasy and myth are so IMPORTANT to a child’s cognitive development. You might as well decide that you’ll never read your child a fiction novel. I totally agree with your choice to tell the truth rather than be lazy. I want to do that, too. I want them to know they can’t have everything..even if I COULD get it for them. And I tell my kids I have powers, too. Unfortunately, they already know not to believe me, but Daddy…well, Daddy really DOES have powers. What can you do?