Teaching Your Kids How to Lie

by Laurie Ulster
Originally Published: 

This is what my kids are told in school, and this is what I’m supposed to tell them, as a parent. But you know what? We ALL have to lie, because sometimes, lying is the kindest thing you can do.

Distractify published this fun list of “12 Bulls**t Responses to Invitations That Mean ‘No’ But Sound Much Nicer,” and upon reading it, I realized that this is in fact a very useful life skill, and one we should be teaching our children. We don’t want them lying about things that matter, but if you’ve ever heard one kid tell another they don’t want to play with them or go to their party, you feel the sting as if you’re ten years old all over again. As adults, we tell a lot of white lies, and the good ones are intended to spare other people’s feelings. It’s all about spin.

So why not teach our kids how to do this when they get invited to do something they don’t want to? Life is much too short to go to social events that don’t interest you, no matter how old you are. There will always be some you can’t avoid, but you shouldn’t have to go to them all. Here are some suggested phrases for your kids to use when the situation arises:

“I’ll ask my Mom (or Dad).”

It’s called passing the buck, and it works. A kid invites them somewhere they don’t want to go, or asks them to do something they don’t want to do. At a certain age, kids will say, “I don’t want to,” and then the first kid tells their parents, and next thing you know, there’s bad blood in the neighborhood for years. This simple phrase passes the responsibility to the parent, who can come up with all kinds of unchallengeable reasons for the no-show. It’s a win for the parents as well, who earn points by helping their kid out of a jam.

“That sounds awesome!”

No it doesn’t.

This one is suggested by Distractify for adults, too, because it works. The invitation doesn’t actually sound awesome but you don’t want to tell someone that, AND you don’t want to go to their lame event, whatever it may be. So say it sounds awesome, and hopefully end it at that, and by the time the event comes, you’re already busy and can’t go. It also effectively ends the discussion, so you can move on to new topics right away. Your kids will like that it sounds really positive without forcing them to agree to go. It even leaves their options open, in case they change their minds later.

“OMG, I totally forgot!”

Your teens and tweens will thank you for this one. It’s a great post-event lie to explain away something they deliberately avoided. They can even apologize, and make it genuine; they sound like they’re apologizing for forgetting, but really they’re apologizing for not wanting to go in the first place.

“Hmm…let me get back to you.”

This is the kid equivalent of the parental “we’ll see.” It really means, “I don’t want to think about this now—or any time,” and it’s a way to put someone off just long enough for you to come up with a more concrete excuse. Everyone needs a good stalling tactic.


Maybe means no, I’m not coming, I don’t want to come, I’d rather be anywhere else, going sounds absolutely awful. But it’s a lot nicer. And it’s not even a lie—maybe they WILL go. Not.

“I’ll find out if I can go.”

Another buck-passing, but works better for the older kids who don’t want to sound dependent on their parents’ permission even though that’s what they’re implying. It’s a great way to avoid committing to anything while still sounding enthusiastic.

“Oh fun, who else is going?”

They don’t really think it sounds fun when they say this, it’s just a quick white lie to get into the meatier question: “Who else will be there?” We know how important this is for teens and tweens, even when it has nothing to do with popularity or status. Don’t we all want to see a friendly face when we go somewhere? The “oh fun” part is a way in, even when it really means, “how awful.”

“I’ll keep you posted!”

This means, “Don’t ask me about it again, I’ll let you know,” which really means, “I’m not going at all and I’m hoping to forget all about it.” And then they can forget about it. Forever.

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