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10 Lies Parents Tell A Lot but Never Notice

10 Lies Parents Tell A Lot but Never Notice

Parents all lie to their kids every day, they just don’t realise it. You may tell your child not to lie, but continually saying these lies, no matter how small teaches them to lie as well. They will think it is ok to lie, since Mommy and Daddy lie.

As a parent, I totally understand sometimes we lie to protect our kids, we love them so much that we don’t want them to get hurt. However, I came to realise that lying actually does no good to our kids, it will only back-fire and turn our kids into liars. That’s obviously not what we want so we need to stop doing that and be true to both ourselves and our kids.

Some of the Everyday Lies Parents Tell Unconsciously

Here are some examples of lies that parents will often tell their kids, along with better solutions. These are examples to help you brain storm your own solutions to the little lies you may be telling your child on a regular basis.

1. “Santa Clause is watching you.”

Instead of threatening them with Santa not giving them gifts, take away something in the here and now so they know their behavior has immediate consequences. If they are fighting with their sister and you want the fighting to stop so you say Santa is watching (and eventually they will find out you are big fat liar on this one) have a consequence for their behavior. Have a realistic punishment like taking away electrics for a few hours or giving them a time out period. The one ask parenting method works well for siblings fighting and is explained in this article: Effective Way of Talking with Children.

2. “I will never let anything bad happen to you.”

This may be your intention, but it may not be possible. You can’t protect your child 100% of the time. Instead, use the truth, but frame it so the child does feel protected, yet aware of real dangers. Saying something like “I will always try to protect you, but there are bad people out there so that’s why I don’t want you to wander away from me in a store, as there are kids that are taken from their Mommies and Daddies. I am here to protect you, but if you wander away, then I am not there and you could be putting yourself in danger”. It may be scary, but its also a truthful reality. You don’t want to cause them any undue anxiety, so choose your words carefully. Let them know although kidnappings are rare, it is still something all kids and parents should be aware of, so that they are cautious of strangers when out it public.

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3. “The park is closed.”

You know very well the park is open, but you don’t have time to take the kids to the park because you have errands to run. Instead of lying, be honest. “Mommy can’t take you to the park today because we have to get groceries for the week so we can have meals and I have some other important errands that have to be done today.” They may whine and complain, but that’s ok, they will learn the reality of life is that they can’t have everything that they want all the time. Telling the truth also helps make you an honest parent and not a liar, because eventually they will get old enough and realize you are lying about the park being closed.

4. “It won’t hurt, I promise”

They need to get a shot from the doctor, but they are screaming and you want the screaming to stop so they can get the shot. However, they are screaming because they know you are lying. You said it wouldn’t hurt the first time they got shots. They know better. They learned from the pain that you lied. Don’t lie. Let them know it will be a small poke, a little pain, but then its over and they get a sucker. Explain that they need the shot, for whatever health reason. Don’t be a liar. This one will quickly make you the bad guy because if you tell them it won’t hurt and hurts immensely you are the one to blame. The reality is that shots do hurt, but the pain does go away, so lead with that bit of truth and you will find them trusting you more, not less.

5. “You are the best artist, great job on your painting!”

Don’t bother praising your child when you aren’t sincere. Believe it or not, kids are not as gullible as you think. They can pick up on tone of voice, body language, and know when you aren’t completely being truthful. Instead, you can praise their creativity or the ingenuity in their work. Praise them for something you believe is true about their work and abilities, not an end product that is just mediocre.

6. “Its bed time!”

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Its only 7:30 and not really time for bed, since you know their actual bedtime is 8:00. Simple solution: “its time to start getting ready for bed”. Words matter. You may have meant that its time to get ready for bed, but what you said was that “its bedtime”. Once they begin to tell time, you want to make sure you are saying what you mean and mean what you say. Its all about maintaining the trust between you and your child. It may be a little white lie, but lies upon lies mount up to become bigger trust issues.

7. “I don’t know what happened to your artwork that was hanging on the fridge.”

You know what happened to it because you threw it away. You can’t keep every piece of artwork because you simply don’t have the space to keep all of it. The best solution is to explain this to your child. Show them the drawer or bin where you do keep the best or most meaningful pieces that they make. They can put things there if they want to make sure they are saved. If the bin gets full, then its time for them to help sort through and recycle the pieces that they no longer want to keep. This gives them responsibility over their artwork, and it also makes you an honest parent.

8. “I will be there in a minute.”

Yes, your intention is good. You do want to be there to tuck them in or to help them with their project or whatever it may be. However, you are paying bills and want to finish up what you are doing. Then tell them just that. Tell them that you need to finish paying bills and then you can come to help them. Don’t lie by saying it is a minute, because it may be longer, and the more the time passes before you come to them then the more it makes you out to be a liar. Avoid the lie, by simply telling the truth and being specific.

9. “I am going to leave this house without you.”

Instead of using a scare tactic, use specific and realistic consequences to move them into action. You can say “if you don’t have your shoes on and are ready to get into the car within 5 minutes, then you will lose your TV privileges for the evening.” Be sure to follow through with the consequences every time. You will find you have a child who listens to you because of what you say, not because they are scared into action, but because your words have weight.

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10. “We don’t have enough money to xxx.”

Instead of lying, explain it to your child on their level. Tell them you all want to go on vacation so we can’t go to the movies and sometimes do other things.  Help them understand that sometimes to do something really special and fun, it involves sacrifice. Not only are you teaching them a valuable life lesson, but you are also not making yourself a liar.

Compared to lying, knowing the truth is the best way for your kids to learn and grow

1. Learning about the consequences of bad behavior is the quickest way to correct them.

If your child throws a fit at the checkout every time you go shopping because they want candy so you say “I will get it for you next time”, you are setting yourself up for failure in the future. Eventually the child will realize you say this every time so they will continue throwing fits and their behavior can escalate.

Be honest, and have consequences for their fit throwing. With this in mind you need to have a solution ready for the next time you are at the checkout. Perhaps before you enter the store you have a chat with your child on their level explaining that fit throwing will not be accepted.

Let your child know there is a specific punishment if a fit is thrown in the store, such as no TV time for the rest of that day. They may still throw the fit, but when you follow through with that punishment they will learn quickly that their actions do have consequences, because you will follow through on your word. Your words have the power to make you a parent who is trustworthy or not and the development of this trust starts during early childhood.

2. It’s better to learn from honest comments than to avoid disappointments.

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It is better to be honest and disappoint your child and they perhaps suffer small disappointments along the way, rather than damaging the relationship you have with that child long term. Trust is the foundation of that long term relationship. When you miss your child’s soccer game because you were having dinner with a friend and the game slipped your mind. Instead of being honest you tell your child “I am sorry I had to miss the soccer game, I had an important work meeting I couldn’t miss”.

These are the sort of white lies that create distrust over time, as the child will figure things out and realize you are lying. Perhaps you run into that friend with your child and they say how great it was to have that meal together and catch up. Your child now knows you lied. You are caught. Wouldn’t it have been better to tell the truth? Of course, so make it a habit of telling the truth even if it may be slightly uncomfortable or painful for you or the child. Trust is the most important foundation in the relationship, so don’t damage it when you can simply be honest and truthful in all things.

You should have simply told your child “I am so sorry I didn’t make it to the game, I was having dinner with a friend and I simply forgot about the game. I will make an effort to be at the next one because I feel bad I missed the game”. Being truthful is always best. You gain credibility with your honesty, even if you are admitting a fault. Psychology Today discussed this topic of parents lying to avoid disappointment and stated the following:

The reality is that children can deal with almost any disappointment if provided parental support. It works the other way as well whereby if children are repeatedly lied to by parents they begin to doubt and distrust even the simplest realities.

Be honest, don’t lie, as it damages the child’s ability to trust you in the future. Little trust leads to bigger trust. If your child can’t trust you in the small issues, how are they going to trust you with the big issues, such as drug use or sex. All parents want their children to have open lines of communication and trust with their child, but many greatly diminish that trust relationship during early childhood because of the little lies told during those formative years.

More by this author

Dr. Magdalena Battles

A Doctor of Psychology with specialties include children, family relationships, domestic violence, and sexual assault

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Last Updated on May 7, 2019

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

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    They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

    Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

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        1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
        2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
        3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
        4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
        5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

        How to Spot a Wolf

          Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

          Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

          A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

          A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

          Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

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          Ask Questions, the More the Better

          There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

          When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

          Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

          They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

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          Wolves Are Everywhere

          As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

          Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

          Reference

          [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
          [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

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