Five Lies Parents Tell Their Kids


Yes, I know lying is wrong. We have a strict no-lying policy in our house. For kids, that is. However, as the parent, lying is not only necessary, but a matter of survival…

1. Lies to protect our own sanity. These are the lies we tell because no one prepared you for the most heinous invention ever: battery operated talking toys with no “off” button. And because as a former Riot Grrl, you simply cannot read Barbie’s Princess Charm School without banging your head against a wall. And because the Pinkalicious game has no fucking point. So yes, we smuggle these items out of our kids’ bedrooms in the middle of the night like a Columbian drug lord and then tell them we don’t have a clue where there objects went.  We have to keep what sanity we have left.

2. Lies to keep the magic of childhood alive. These cover everything from those treats left by the Easter Bunny to the good old “the cat was too old to walk up the steps of our house anymore, so we sent him to a farm where he will be much happier.” Seriously, do you want to explain to your three year old what’s in that teeny mahogany box engraved with “Our Beloved Hobbes” on it? Let them be a kid a little while longer. They have many years to ponder the existence of an afterlife.

3. Lies to manage behavior. These bad boys are the lies you use to scare your children into acting like civilized human beings. Like when you tell the kids they are only allowed to browse in the toy aisle for 5 minutes, or else the Target police will come ticket them for loitering. Or “I’m on the phone with your dentist right now- he says if you don’t brush your teeth he has to take them all out”.  Or “Hannah Montana always listens to her mom and dad”. (This example is pretty much worthless now).

4. Lies to raise their self esteem. This is why we have a whole nation of kids who expect a trophy for just putting on cleats. Let’s not kid ourselves, it does matter whether you win or lose. But we keep telling kids they’re doing a great job, even when they’re not. Like praising my son for his talents in recorder-playing. Even if played properly, that instrument sounds like dying cattle. So I tell my son he’s doing a great job. Mostly because if I don’t, he’ll keep practicing.

5. Lies to avoiding admitting you don’t know the answer. Sometimes your kids’ questions catch you off guard, and they demand an answer before you have a chance to Google. This is tricky, especially when your kid starts to catch onto the lie, as demonstrated by my discussion with my son about evolution when he was five years old:

“Mom, what was here before people?”


“Where did the people come from?”

“We just evolved”

“What’s evolved?”

“Uh…” (I don’t know, it’s like explaining ‘savory’- there’s no way to do it. But I have to give it my best shot)

“Well, basically after a lot of monkeys started getting good at things like standing up, they became people” (Somewhere Darwin is rolling over in his grave).


“After many millions of years of monkeys, the newest monkeys were just born standing up, and we call them people”

“Weren’t they just standing monkeys?” (Shit, he’s onto me)

“No, they were people.”

“But you said they were monkeys”

“Yes, monkey people”


“yes, there were monkeys, then monkey people, then just people”

“there were monkey people?” (Oh crap, I hope he doesn’t tell his teacher about this….so I just stare at him)

He repeats: ” monkey people and standing monkeys?”

“Exactly!! evolution! Do you want a cookie?”

Eventually, you stop lying to your kids. Partly because lying is inherently wrong. But ultimately you realize you no longer need lies to get through this crazy ride called parenthood. Instead, you reach into your parenting arsenal for two new weapons: truth and trust. You wake up one day and see your kid is growing into an actual person, one with tough questions and even harder decisions. Honesty and trust become the foundation of the bond you and your child need to have so you can help them navigate through this crazy world.

Oh, who am I kidding. You stop lying because you get old and you can barely remember what you ate for dinner last night, let alone which lie you told which kid.

About the writer

Brooke is a wife, mom and attorney. Her hobbies include over-caffeinating herself, cursing and decorating her pretend beach house on Pinterest. When she can remember, she tweets at @brookekravitz.


Shauntrice 2 years ago

lol. I suppose the lies start once they start asking questions. I am still in the awesome babbling stage (6 months old) where I am not held accountable for what I say as long as I say it with a smile!

Jocasta Bryan 2 years ago

While simplified, your explanation isn't a lie. The things at the store do belong to someone else until we pay for them.

Frankie Laursen 2 years ago

#2 also includes helping your child keep the magic alive for themselves. I’m pretty sure my six-year-old son knows that Santa isn’t real (he just found out the truth about the Tooth Fairy from reading the Ramona books), but he still likes the idea so much he doesn’t want to give it up.

Jennifer 2 years ago

Best lie my mom ever told us “Oh those are TV toys, Santa doesn’t make those kinds of toys in his workshop” saved my mom from all the barbie and gi joe plastic crap… we always got blocks and books, etc until we were old enough to know better :)

Chelley Martinka 2 years ago

Best. Ever.

Grace | Yummy Baby Gifts™ 2 years ago

Too funny!
I always tell my kids “it’s spicy” if I want just eat it myself! lol

    Bren 2 years ago

    Ha! We always tell our girls something is too spicy when we don’t want to share!

Jessica 2 years ago

Brooke, incredible post. Your kids have already shown that they are going to grow up to be intelligent, caring, free-thinkers who do great things. I still smile and chuckle every time I think about the note from the toothfairy.

No one should ever feel sorry for your kids because you teach them they are loved. Nothing – NOTHING- is more important than that.
Cheers! #22

    Wulf 2 years ago

    My stepson actually tried to catch the tooth fairy so he could sell her pickled corpse online. He figured if he put his little tooth in a jar on the nightstand and sleep with the lid in his hand, he’d make a fortune for getting the first real PROOF that the tooth fairy was REAL…
    Ya gotta be careful with the ‘parent’ lies, sometimes they have unintended consequences…*l*

Virginia Llorca 2 years ago

We explained about mother nature when the coyote killed my grand daughter's cat and we had a nice funeral. We didn't tell her about the skeleton in the snow when the coyote dug kitty up.

Virginia Llorca 2 years ago

We mustn't take things off the shelves in stores cuz they belong to "the store man" unless we give him money. If we take them he will get mad at us. — She took her hand off the magazine so fast I was afraid I scared her and I added, "We don't want him to be mad at us cuz he's nice." Such a look I got from the lady behind. . .

Nichole 2 years ago

Hilarious! I love your conversation on evolution. The whole post is great!
I, too, lie to my kids (3 and almost 2) on occasion. For instance, my son (the 3yr old) loves the show Caillou. The kid has a whiny voice and he can be a brat sometimes and my son was picking up some of that. So…several months ago I blocked the show and told my son it doesn’t come on our tv anymore. Ha! On the other hand, I tend to be brutally honest with them, as well. Probably more than their little minds can grasp but I feel like some things are too real to lie about.

Nichole Wehri Erickson 2 years ago

Hilarious! I love the conversation on evolution. Haha!!!

Kristen Mae at Abandoning Pretense 2 years ago

“I’m on the phone with your dentist right now- he says if you don’t brush your teeth he has to take them all out”. – STEALING IT.

Also – my 7yo has a tablet, now. With tons of parental controls on it, but HEY he can use it for research! Whenever he asks me a question to which I don’t know the answer, I say – look it up on your tablet! =)

Kristine Harrington Vosecky 2 years ago

Monkey People! Haha!!! Thank you for the laugh! :)

Practical Mama 2 years ago

It’s easier to get by with lies when the kids are younger. As they get older, not only it’s hard to make them believe, but with the higher risk of them realizing you are using lies, you are teaching them how and when to lie. As much as, I feel like lying to get away or refrain from a worse situation, I think 3 times before I try.

Robyn-Sue 2 years ago

You forgot the ever popular “We’re out of batteries” LOL!

Jenn Burns 2 years ago

Biggest lies I tell~ Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Toothfairy. As in “If you don’t do what I tell you to do, so and so isn’t coming to our house this year…” lol

HD 2 years ago

My latest whopper was, “The zoo is closing at 2:00, we need to get to our car!” Enough already.

Debbie 2 years ago

This post had me laughing out loud!!! So true, so true. I think you are right about the real reason for “lying” to our kids, keeping the magic of childhood alive.

Valerya Rose Baker 2 years ago

We don't lie about death. One of ours cats went missing, likely eaten by an owl or hawk, and it was actually easier to explain death to the kids than to make up a lie that wouldn't hurt their feelings.

    Nichole 2 years ago

    I agree. I don’t either. I think my kids would be more upset if I told them someone else had our dog versus the truth.

Amy 2 years ago

My go-to lie, works every time. “It’s closed!” For example, we live on the face of the sun in Texas, and my daughter only wants to go to the park when it’s 110 degrees. “Sorry sweetie, the park is closed today. It’s too hot.” Stopping at QT for a slurped that she will drink 2 sips of. “Sorry sweetie, they are closed this afternoon.” (She hasn’t equated cars in the parking lot with being open, yet.) She’s beginning to apply this herself now. If she asks to go somewhere, and I tell her no, not today, she will reply with “Oh, are they closed?” Yes, yes they are!

    Sara 2 years ago

    I thought I was the only one who did the ‘They’re closed’ thing! Bahahahaha! I learned it from my gramma, who had all of us convinced that McDonald’s was closed every Monday. Oh boy.

Stevi 2 years ago

Ha! My 5 year old daughter asked me where people came from and we had a similar conversation. trying to let her make her own mind up, I also told her some people believe god made people. When I was done I asked her what she thought. Her response was “I think I came from a horse” …..I guess she has a new version of evolution…to each their own I guess?

Stephanie 2 years ago

Haahahaha I have totally had a similar “monkey” conversation.
I also like to
Lie about why I’m really in the bathroom! No, I’m not eating a delicious treat or crying quietly or (gasp) actually just peeing alone!!!!

Liz 2 years ago

OMG, I could not stop laughing at your evolution story!!!! It is as if you were in the car with me and my 11 year old son last week. Practically word for word!!!!!! He and I have a date to the library to get a book to help us both!!

    momofeveryone 2 years ago

    we have a great natural history museum and i was able to take my ds to see the evolution section. it helped a lot! and he’s 5 now and wants to be a paleontologist because we have spent so much time there :)

Debbie 2 years ago

Yes, we do lie to our kids. My kids always had a cupboard i let them play in when they were little. After they got older they still wanted to play in it, so one day I told them I found a spider in it. They didn’t play in the cupboard anymore.
As for your last one, that people came from monkeys. Each to his own, but my heart goes out to your kids. The best thing we can teach our kids is about God and our Savior. All you have to tell them is God makes people, but if you don’t believe that I am so sorry.
Thanks for the smiles, but that last lie just messed up the whole post.

    Lindsey 2 years ago

    Debbie, not everyone believes in God. Just because you do doesn’t make us wrong. It also doesn’t make our lives sad, and it does not damage our kids. My daughter knows that I don’t believe in god but when she asks about religion I answer her questions as honestly as possible, then when asked I tell her what i believe. But i also tell her that she can decide for herself what she wants to believe. God is not a necessity to a happy life. So don’t feel sorry for someone just because they don’t feel the same way you do.

      Cathy 2 years ago

      You replied so much better than I did. I have a lot to learn and am glad there are examples like you out there to remind me, Lindsey. Thank you!

      Stevi 2 years ago

      Couldn’t agree more! My daughter will be the first to tell you I do not believe in God, but she will tell you she does! Which is perfectly fine. I do not try to sway her opinion either way. She also thinks God is a woman, and I’m not about to let anyone tell her differently. 😀

      Debbie 2 years ago

      Hi Lindsey,
      No not everyone believes in God, and I do take a little offense that Brooke says, we came from monkeys. Is this any different from what I am saying and you take offense?
      I would love to hear what your answer is to your daughter when she ask the question.
      I promise not to feel sorry for you anymore. Maybe just say a little prayer.

        Lindsey 2 years ago

        Actually my daughter did ask at some point. I told her that I did not know exactly where people came from because i wasn’t around then and no one that was left any clear answer. I then told her that different people believed different things, for instance people who believed in God thinks he created people, and other people believe in evolution where monkeys slowly changed over a very long time. But me personally I don’t know whats true and that i was okay with that, sometimes lifes questions are better unanswered.
        But alas you are right your offense is no different than mine, I did not like hearing somewhere say that their heart goes out to a child simply because her parents are not religious, as I imagine you would be offended if I said my heart went out to your children because you are. But the differences between us is what makes our world such a dynamic one. I am okay with that, just like I am okay with you praying for me. I won’t be praying for you but I will send out just as much positive energy to you and your family as I can.

          Debbie 2 years ago

          Thanks Lindsey I can use all the positive energy i can get at time and my family too. I appreciate it and thanks for letting me keep praying.
          have a great day,

    Cathy 2 years ago

    Debbie, I don’t believe she wrote this post for you specifically or more importantly in support or denial of your religion. How unbelievably rude of you to comment the way you did. You have the audacity to say that you feel sorry for her and her kids? Shame on you. Not at all what the Jesus in your scriptures would have done.
    Congratulations on a very funny and well written article, Brooke. It was very entertaining, regardless of my personal belief system. All of it.

      Debbie 2 years ago

      Yes, I know that Jesus would not have replied as I did. After all he was perfect. I’m bad! At the same time I just had to speak up for him and our Father in Heaven. I didn’t want them to come and smack me alone side of the head, because i let some one write that we come from monkeys.

    Stevi 2 years ago

    The best thing we can teach out kids it to think for themselves, to be decent, loving human beings who do the right thing regardless of the threat of burning in hell for eternity. How incredibly self absorb are you? Your heart goes out to her children because she may or may not have a different belief system? How offended would you be if I said I feel bad for your children because you have fed them lies?? It’s people like you who chase people away from religion. “I have no problem with God, it’s his fanclub I can’t stand” — A.B. Potts.

      Debbie 2 years ago

      Hi Stevi,

      Honey please don’t feel sorry for my children. After all they do know who to turn to when tough times or things happen.
      I am glad that you don’t have a problem with someone saying or telling there child that we come from monkeys. I would really have a problem going to a zoo and seeing my relatives locked in cages. LOL

      I would like to know how Brooke can tell a child that they come from a monkey and you don’t take any offense from it, but i just bring up the word God and you think I am a religion gone haywire?
      “I have no problem with God, it’s his fanclub I can’t stand” — A.B. Potts. I agree with this to a point, but i do have a right to my opinion, just like you have a right to your opinion. No I do not believe in people coming to my door and trying to shove religion down my throat, but at the same time, this monkey thing really got to me.
      If everyone has a problem with this, so be it. Good luck with the monkey business.

        Stevi 2 years ago

        Well, Honey… I don’t take offense to her telling her children the truth. I took offense that you are so self righteous that you felt the need to publicly announce how terrible you feel for poor Brooke’s children. It’s incredibly offensive to assume that because she has a different belief system than you that he kids are some how less off? Believe what you want you do have the right to you opinion but I have no idea how you thought it appropriate to voice it here and in the way you did. There was no purpose to your original comment other than to shame Brooke and judge her parenting. I consider you hijacking this funny lighthearted blog post the virtual equivalent of coming to my door and cramming your beliefs down my throat. Have your opinion, but how about don’t spout it off any chance you find?

          Debbie 2 years ago

          Excuse me for breathing Stevi. Now we both have our opinion. Sure hope that my opinion didn’t totaly mess up your day.
          Oh, last time I checked; comments where for others to state there opinion of a blog post.
          Since this is a light hearted blog I shall add, please don’t choke on my believes and have fun with your own believes. You have a right.
          May many blessing find you and your family.

          Stevi 2 years ago

          You are right the comment section is where you post your opinion. I know it’s not one of the 10 commandments so you may have never been taught this but “If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.”

    Sara 2 years ago

    I believe in Heavenly Father, yet it hurts my heart to see someone who believes in God put down someone who doesn’t. You don’t know if the author of this post doesn’t believe in God or not, but to judge and make that implementation in addition to saying you feel sorry for her kids- wow- I was not raised as a God-respecting person to judge so harshly and so quickly the thoughts and actions of others.

    I apologize to anyone who may have been offended by Debbie- Heavenly Father wants us to be like Him, and He does not judge this way…

    While I agree that believing in God is a true blessing, those who do not believe in God are blessed all the same, and feel happiness, raise beautiful and happy children, and live fulfilled lives. You don’t have to outwardly believe in order to be happy, no matter how dedicated you are to your faith.

    My heart goes out to you, Debbie, that you are so quick to judge others. We are all God’s children, whether we actively believe or not. We are to love everyone the same. Being ignorant and defensive just because someone says something you don’t believe in is not God’s intention for us.

    I hope that you can take on God’s true spirit and love thy neighbor despite how or who they believe, and judge not, lest ye be judged.

      Debbie 2 years ago

      Yes, Sara we are all God’s children. i do not need anyone apologize for me, I am my own keeper.
      You can keep your heart, I really have one of my own.
      In conclusion I have better things to do than keep coming back to this post and trying to defend myself for my opinion. Everyone want to keep putting me down, apoligizing for me, sending positive energy, etc. This is good and maybe some people really do believe we came from monkeys. After all it’s looking like ‘monkey see monkey do’, I am out of here for now.

        Sara 2 years ago

        I agree with you , Debbie. It may be in your best interest to stop responding to the posts of others. It is obvious that you fail to see that you have offended some of the others here, and cannot be humbled. It is also becoming very obvious that you are feeling attacked and berated, which cannot be a fun feeling at all. If I have offended you or anyone else here, I apologize.

        You are entitled to your opinion, yes, but so are those who you have repeatedly offended in your posts. Saying you feel sorry for someone’s children who you don’t even know is quite the statement to make, particularly when you’re using God as your shield to say it. Very contradictory. God doesn’t feel sorry for anyone. He only loves. That’s our job, too. To love. Not berate, not ridicule, not judge, not lash out at, not insult.

        If you are going to defend God, be as He is and do so with love and acceptance. I know we are not perfect, but my goodness- we can learn, and this is a great experience to do so. To learn to accept others as they are.

        I am sure you believe your heart is in the right place defending your God. There is nothing wrong with praising Him and loving Him, and letting others know. You just cannot make statements as you have made and not expect people to respond in kind, now can you?

        My heart continues to go out to you, as that is my duty as a Daughter of God (and your duty as well, if you are truly defending God’s will here on earth, which is apparently your original reason for posting in the first place). I know that you likely feel attacked for what you have posted, and feel that what you were originally saying was in honor of God, but perhaps had you worded your opinion in a less-offensive and self-righteous way, people would not be responding as they are? Something to reflect on as we move forward in this life, striving for perfection…

        In short, you can defend and praise God without being offensive and brash about it. You can be grateful and loving and respectful in your references to Him, rather than insulting and offending HIS children. In fact, I believe GOD would be mightily grateful to you (and all of us) if you and all of us do so moving forward.

        My heart goes out to you and yours, and to everyone else here on this post. I do this because it is commanded of me and all of us by our Heavenly Father, who I strive to honor and love every second of my life.

        We are all God’s Children, and can live our lives as peaceably as we choose, believing what we choose. No one can make our minds up for us- in fact, that is why we are here. We chose free agency and have gotten to come to this earth to live it. :) I can’t decide your life (nor do I want to) any more than you can decide mine. And that’s just fine with me- I can accept people just as they are and know they are God’s Children and loved all the same :) I am at peace with that.

        As for the evolution theory that made this post so funny in the first place, let me tell you all- God has a serious sense of humor, and is likely chuckling about this whole ‘debate’ this very minute. So let’s lighten up, shall we?

        We’ll all see where we came from in the end. Some of us may just be surprised. :)

        God bless. Take care. And all that jazz.

Alecia 2 years ago

I remember the lies that my Mom told me and I swore I would never do that to my children – but you know what? I do! It’s mandatory to stay sane sometimes! Though I do look forward to a day when I don’t have to participate in some of the lies anymore like Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, Santa, and Elf on a Shelf. Though I love seeing their innocence, when they won’t sleep at all the night before and make all of us miserable because no one is sleeping – I’m ready for it to be over. :)

Nancy Lea Ross 2 years ago

I Told You So!!!

Dawn 2 years ago

Regarding the last one: I’ve made sure my kids know I’m not infallible and I don’t know everything. So when they ask me something that I don’t know, I’ll say, “I don’t know, but we can find out together.” This tells them that learning is something they’ll always be doing, and learning is something that their mom genuinely wants to do.

TK 2 years ago

You are right. Try as we might we do end up lying as parents because sometimes we just want to stay sane! I have a toddler, so I’ve just hidden some annoying toys (and books) and referred to some TV characters to set an ‘example’. I feel guilty every time and vow never to do it again, but sometimes I just get desperate!


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