When Parents Lie To Teach Kids The Right Things


Teaching kids to make the right choices in life is one of the toughest jobs we have to do as parents. And every parent wants to do it right. Yes, because you don’t want to intentionally screw your child. No parent does. Life will take care of that in one way or the other anyway.


But you know what puzzles me?


How do we teach all the right things to kids when we, the parents, might not necessarily be doing the right things ourselves?


So, do we lie? Do we not practice what we preach? What is it?


I know I’m not perfect. Far from it actually. As a kid, I remember pouring my glass of milk out of my window. Yes, just to avoid drinking it. And I’m practically the same person, only older. So, how am I going to teach M the right things, something like drinking milk is good for her?


I’ll probably have to lie. Because I clearly cannot practice what I preach. So, again, do parents lie to teach their kids the right things?


If you ask me, I think yes we lie a lot. Sometimes subconsciously and sometimes very very consciously. White lies most of it but still. Don’t believe me? Well, let’s talk more and then you decide.


Some observations from a not so perfect parent. #MommyTalks #Parenting Click To Tweet


Just the other day I was telling M that she should eat more fruits as they are good for her. The fact is she just doesn’t like to have fruits at all. She has rejected every possible fruit I have given her. Mangoes to Kiwis, you name it and it’s on her rejection list. The only fruit I have managed to get her to eat are Bananas. Well, so far. Thank God for that. But while I was coaxing her, urging her and lecturing her on the benefits of having fruits, I realised how fake I was. Yes, the truth is I hardly eat any fruits myself. The only fruit which you’ll probably see me having happily and willingly is a pineapple. So, see what I mean, when I say it’s tricky being a parent? We have to get our kids to do things which we might not necessarily do ourselves.


The same thing with vegetables. M doesn’t like having greens or for that matter any other vegetable. Truth is I don’t like vegetables either. But at least, in this case, I eat them as I’m too lazy to cook fish for myself every single day. However, I still have to teach her to eat vegetables as they are good for her while I might never follow through on that willingly myself.


Then there is my all-time favourite pastime of her oral hygiene. I keep forcing her to brush her teeth twice daily. Truth be told, once is enough for me unless of course brushing my teeth more than once gets her to brush hers. So, when I’m urging her to brush twice daily, I’m also thinking would I have done it without being coxed so much myself.


There are days when she comes home and tells me how so and so child pushed her. The immediate reaction in my head is to ask her if she pushed back. But do I voice that? No. Instead, I tell her that she should have sought her caretaker at the daycare and perhaps even told the kid to not push her. What would I have done as a kid? I would probably have pushed back but can I teach that to my child? I don’t think so. Not openly, of course. See what I mean? I guess parenting is about controlling our impulses or what comes naturally to us and then doing or saying what is ‘right’.


Then there is the whole shebang with feeding her. I want to teach M to eat without casting rhymes on the television or playing the same on my phone. But do you know something, I cannot have my dinner without watching some series or the other myself? It’s my way of relaxing so why am I not being honest with her? Is this a parent thing?


I try to teach her to respect all elders but do I respect all elders myself? Of course, not. I think respect is earned through actions and words not automatically inherited. But at least for beginners, I cannot tell that to her right away.


The other day when M didn’t get her favourite seat on the bus home, she kept crying nonstop so much so that the poor woman on it got up to let her sit. I, of course, didn’t let M sit there even after that and in fact made her apologise to that lady. But do you know a secret? Sometimes I too get really annoyed when I don’t get my desired seat on the bus for various reasons. Yes, just like a child only I can’t make a fuss about it like M.

So, you see how much of trickery this thing called parenting is at least in those initial couple of years. As she grows up, I will perhaps be able to discuss the nuances of life and of behaviour in general. I can discuss the exceptions and let her decide. But for now, I think it’s all hogwash to ensure she gets the right base to start with.


What do you think? Have you ever done something similar?


Do parents lie to teach their kids the right things? My thoughts on the same. #Parenting #lifelessons #parents #momlife #tobeamom


Pic Credit | Lightfield Studios via Shutterstock

27 thoughts on “When Parents Lie To Teach Kids The Right Things”

  1. Now this post is the ultimate truth, Naba. Like you pointed out we are imperfect, flawed humans so yes while we have to inculcate his habits in our kids, it is possible that we have some of the bad habits. For the food habits, I can tell you with experience that kids do imitate parents. As she grows older, she will turn back and ask you how many fruits and vegetables you are eating. Also a little innovation in cooking helps. Try pureeing veggies or fruits in rotis, dals, milk shakes etc.

    There is so much more that I can write especially about my own experiences with handling tantrums or screen time etc. Let’s try to meet up soon.
    Rachna recently posted…A Decade of Rachna says — Blood, Sweat and Tears of JoyMy Profile

  2. Last time when we took Kanna for his annual check up at his pediatrician, I had to tell the doctor that he didn’t like vegetables. And when I added that I couldn’t blame him as I didn’t like them either, the doctor was speechless. We are all in the same boat, Naba. There is no right answer here. We just follow our instincts to do the best for our kids.
    Vinitha recently posted…Chocolate Marble Pound Cake – My first recipe post #FlavoursomeTuesdaysMy Profile

  3. This is a very interesting blog post topic. Parenting is indeed very hard! We do what’s best for our kids!

  4. Teaching kids can be so hard and at times, you just have to lie for the kid to take precautions. I recall how my mum always told me this myth that if I sat by the gas whenever someone was cooking, my grandma would get sick! And I believed only to realize that she was ensuring that I don’t get burnt …haha! Very funny and exaggerated!

  5. Well, I am not the right person to comment here, but, as an aunt, I too find myself in a similar position so many times!
    Guess we all are just trying our best to raise our kids to the best of our abilities. Also, sometimes I feel that maybe we don’t like how we were as kids and hence have to lie to get our kids to do what we never did! 😛
    Shilpa Gupte recently posted…From my bookshelf. July’18My Profile

  6. As you rightly said, you are not perfect. No one is. But you don’t always have to be a model especially with some of these situations. I think modelling values and being authentic about those is important but likes and dislikes and things we think are “good for” kids are okay to lie about or be slightly hypocritical about if needed. 🙂
    Sanch @ Sanch Writes recently posted…The latest edition of getting inkedMy Profile

  7. The one thing I have always tried to avoid as a parent is being a hypocrite. It can be a struggle to lead by example, but it can be done. From a young age my kids have been told that they shouldn’t lie, but if they need an excuse to get out of a situation that they could always blame it on me. I also taught them how to use their words careful and be selective with the information they give.

  8. Gosh! I totally get how hard it is to preach one thing and do the other. I see it slightly differently. We tell kids the right things. Like eating fruits and vegetables, oral hygiene etc. And I’m sure you will continue to do that. As they grow up,they will have choices and they will run with those choices. So I think you are doing the right thing by telling M what ought to be done. Rest, she will see later.
    Parul Thakur recently posted…Sleep O sleep, why elude?My Profile

  9. Leading by example is always the best teacher and it can be the hardest at times. I will use my mistakes as a kid to teach also.

  10. We start out lying about Santa, the tooth fairy, Easter bunny and continue telling tales to make (I not sure which) them or ourselves happy. Then, we tell them to teach lessons. Trouble is where do we draw the line.

  11. I am not a mother, so I can only offer my personal opinion from observance. As those who claim to be wiser than their children, parents should a) Tell them what is best to do. & b) Occasionally look to see how they can improve as well. When you see how you can improve do it & possibly have a heart to heart with your child about your imperfection.

  12. You know more than about lying as a parent or not, you should look at it as what is right. See, as adults we know there are so many things that are right, but do you always believe and follow them? Not always. Kids are innocent in their own way and as parents we need to make sure they are getting the right nutrition and following the right habits. One might argue that in-spite of our inhibitions we turned out alright today. But as a parent, they want their child to have the best of health, no matter what. So, it is totally fine what you are doing. With age, M will be able to decide for herself, what is right and not. With a smart mom like you, she’ll make the right decision, I’m sure.
    Soumya recently posted…Action Replay + Gratitude List: July 2018My Profile

  13. I am doing the same thing. I try to teach my child the same way at times. But my husband do otherwise, reverse psychology as we call it. He tells our kids to hit back if some bullies at school hit them. Which is funny, because our kids wouldn’t do it. And they will just grin as if their dad is joking out of it.

  14. This is incredibly interesting. I’ve seen parents lie to their children and my parents did the same. I can’t imagine the position but can see why it happens sometimes.

  15. Parenting is hard. I wouldn’t tells lies to my kid but white lies like telling him, his friends are studying hard at home while he’s watching TV. I think there must be a balance and being a good role model is equally important.
    hey sharonoox recently posted…Hit Or Miss?My Profile

  16. Parenting is definitely tricky. With me and D, the issues might not be same as yours but there are surely situations where he questions me that I tell him one thing to do and do it the ‘wrong way’ myself like reading while lying down on the bed holding the book straight up, not reading in good light, not capable of playing a sport myself while I harp on it for him and so many more. I have not been able to decide what to settle on in terms of children acting nasty with him. His father always tells him to hit back right away and I do not agree with the same but then I think will it be okay for D to not react and give back. I am sure I will mess him up with something or the other and when he grows up he will have reasons to blame me for the shortcoming in his life.

  17. I know these feelings all too well. It can be tough when we want to teach our kids the right things, but we never really lead by example. But then ask too, “did I turn out okay?” It all works out in the end.

  18. Lying can be wrong in two ways. First of all, when we lie, we are basically assuming that our kids are not smart enough to handle the truth, which is not only wrong but also foolish on our part. Secondly, as you have mentioned, you can ask your kids to be honest unless they see you being completely honest in various aspects of life, including parenting!

  19. We need to cloud our own weakness at all times to ensure we teach the child the right thing. Well yes this is difficult,, but trust me its only upto a point when the kid actually learns it and then she will do it on her own. At this point, well, open up and be yourself… the honest you :))) Works you know!
    Ramya Abhinand recently posted…Deep Rooted in OilMy Profile

  20. This is very interesting! It is a common problem with mothers. I am not a mother, but I know parenting is hard and it needs to be sometimes tricky.

  21. When I was a kid I was very difficult so my parents had to lie to make me eat… but now I eat everything. But they came clean with all the lies they might have told us to teach us things so that is the most important

  22. It is very difficult for parents to decide whether to tell the truth or not. But I often tell lies, at least in order to protect my child. You are right, in due course it will be necessary to discuss difficult moments.

  23. Ok, so im the only one who is going to say this, but I was shocked to read this post. Lying is always wrong in any form. Doesn’t matter if it’s a fib, “white lie” or whatever you want to call it. If you have trouble eating fruits and veggies yourself, just admit you have trouble with it to your kid and tell your kid that you both can try together to find new ones that you like. It seems to me that your daughter probably doesn’t like them because you yourself aren’t serving them or eating them on a regular basis. My husband didn’t grow up eating veggies as his mom never fed them to him. Now that I am serving them to him, he has grown to like many of them, and both of our kids will ask for veggies and fruits over candy or sweets because that’s the choice i gave them when they were little.

    Right now, when a child is young they don’t see that you are saying one thing and doing another, but kids are smart and as they grow up they DO see it. Then comes the rebellious teen, the kid who doesn’t want to listen to mom or dad anymore. Because? They figured out the duplicity. Why listen to someone who is not willing to do the right thing themselves? Who would you rather listen to?

    None of us are perfect parents. So we need to admit our failings and find a solution. That’s the only way we improve as individuals.

    I saw someone bring up Santa Claus and the tooth fairie so I’m sure someone will ask if we lie about that to our kids- the semi controversial way that we handle this is that we tell the real story of who St. Nick was and how it is a fun thing to pretend and remember who he was. People have told me that my kids are missing out on the magic of Christmas. As we are followers of Jesus, and tell the story of his birth and how he came to rescue and save us all, we don’t believe that any magic is lost as they are learning about something so much more important then a man in a suit who brings presents. We already have the ultimate present. Things and stuff aren’t the important thing. A relationship with God is.

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