Skip to content

35 Lies Every Parent Needs to Master

Honesty is the best policy—with these notable exceptions.

[Narrator] Lies are bad. Lies are unethical. Do not tell lies.

[Whispers to audience] Sometimes, we parents need to "re-frame" the truth in our quest to protect, nurture, and challenge our children. Sometimes, these trickeries are told for the greater good. Sometimes, they're more right than wrong, even when they're technically more wrong than right. Sometimes, it's ok to fudge just a smidge.

[Narrator] Parents, your children look to you for guidance and for comfort—to learn the ropes in this big, crazy world. Use your power of wisdom—and slightly altered reality—to do just that. So read on, and learn the dark arts of parenting. And for the flip-side of family truthiness, don't miss the 40 Lies Kids Say That Parents Always Fall For.

"I love it."

Even if their style isn't your style, let them know it's okay to experiment with different colored socks, different kinds of hair, just being different.

"It sounded beautiful!"

hobbies for your 40s

Their early music scales may sound like a laryngitic goat, but early education and the motivation to keep going—in any discipline—is all about encouragement. So a little white lie about their cello playing doesn't hurt anyone—believe me.

"Bubbles is in a better place."

dog raises paw in air

For the love of all things canine, please don't say that Bubbles passed away. Or went "to the farm." Unless, of course, Bubbles actually went to a farm. And for help communicating with Bubbles, check out the 19 Things Your Dog Is Trying to Tell You.

"You can stay up all night and help me clean."

girl reading in dark Lies Kids Say

Your kid doesn't want to go to bed and is asking to stay up super late? Easy: Tell them that they're welcome to stay up all night with you—but on the condition that they help you with all of those household chores you're going to be doing. Trust me: They'll be asleep, and you'll be on the couch watching Game of Thrones re-runs, in no time. And speaking of sleep, check out why Getting More Sleep Will Make You a Better Parent.

"Gosh, it seems the [streaming/cable/satellite] isn't working today."

kid watching tv outdated life lessons

There's only so much you can watch of the same movie over and over. Continue with, "I'll call them right away." [Come back in five minutes] "They don't know why either. They're looking into it." You need the break, and frankly, they need to try something else.

"You can be anything you want to be if you work hard enough."

Novak Djokovic

True enough for the larger lesson, but if they say they want to be a pro athlete, you can keep the dream alive for a bit. Yes, it's probably a lie unless they have a seven-foot wingspan or the sport-specific equivalent, but it's your job as a parent to keep their hopes alive.

"It's okay, baby."

mom comforting crying child

It definitely does not feel okay—for them or for you—the first time they get the out-of-body experience of getting really sick for the first time. But they need your warm words and rub on the back. And for more on parenthood, Here's Why Your Phone Is Making You a Terrible Parent. 

"I don't know, honey, if they have to do shots today."

Male doctor

You know full well that shots are due, but no need to strike fear into them hours before the appointment. Emphasize that the doctors and nurses will be very nice.

"Santa is simply magic."

Mall Santa and kid, Pick-Up Lines So Bad They Might Just Work

You don't need to say "Santa is real." But using the word "magic" gives you wiggle room to explain yourself years down the line. And for more parenting tips, see our list of the 20 Ways Parenting is Different Than It Was 20 Years Ago.

"When I stopped believing, I stopped receiving."

Christmas Eve traditions

If they keep pressing with the Santa interrogation.

"A far away land."

Eating Baby Food Dangerous Diet Fads

When a toddler asks you where babies come from on, speak of this fantasy land: "Oh it's a beautiful place where kings and queens come together and declare with all of their soul and spirit that a majestic moment awaits." The bloated description should buy you plenty of time before the "birds and the bees" talk. And it's also not really that much of a lie.

"Isn't that sweet…"

Scandalous, Sending kids to school

When they have their first little love interest, it's cute. Yes, even if you really want to say, "NO, IT IS NOT. YOU ARE TOO YOUNG. YOU WILL LOVE ME AND ME ONLY."

"Isn't that sweet…"

sex games

When they have their first serious love interest, you probably want to add bold letters to everything I just mentioned in the previous slide. Otherwise, you run the risk of alienating your young teen.

"When you eat sugar all the time, your blood turns into rust."

Things You Believed That Aren't True

Biologically false, but metaphorically true!

"I just wanted to make sure she had visited you tonight."

Toothbrush Holder House Cleaning

When you get caught red-handed leaving tooth-fairy cash. Darn, close call.

"No, I did not."

young woman driving Moms Should Never Say

They think they caught you following them the first time you let them drive alone. Absolutely you did not do this, even though you absolutely did.

"So is [insert sibling or other parent]."

When they're scared of the dark, throw some shade. Misery loves company.

"Money doesn't grow on trees."

cash, Crazy Facts About Dollar Bills

Wait, that's actually not a lie!

"We may not be able to because some people can't live in the same house as pets."

So they want a pet, and maybe you're just buying time until you figure out the right time for you, but don't slam the door with a hard "no," because a pet is one of a child's great joys. Speaking of parenting, check out these 40 Parenting Hacks for Raising an Amazing Kid.

"And just remember that I get a report about everything you do and text from the phone company every day."

boost your confidence

When they get their first phone, they need to know that someone is always watching. (Technically, someone is.)

"You will stop growing—like, stop—if all you eat are chicken nuggets."

weight loss motivation

Sorta true, sorta untrue, but you gotta get some veggies in the mix somehow.

"My friend's son had to spend six weeks in thumb casts because he played too much, and then he couldn't play at all."

Couple Playing Video Games

Or just set a hard limit on the video games, maybe?

"It's so fun getting knocked in the face with a wall of water. Watch!"

40 compliments

From their eyes, that is a big-fat-wet lie when they're scared of the water or waves. Yes, they need to be respectful of the water, but you can help them face their fears with you by their side.

"About two more hours."

woman waiting for her date

Use it when they fire away the "are we almost there?" question, whether there's only 20 minutes left—at which point they'll respond, "Wow! That went fast!"—or even if it's more like four hours. Regardless, they'll have no concept of the difference.

"Great game!"

Even if it wasn't or sports aren't their thing. But they're giving it a try. And hey, it was great—that they got to play, that you got to watch, that they had fun and tried real hard, that they didn't lose a tooth trying so hard.

"Wow, that was amazing!"

sports coaching hobbies

You missed their amazing play because your eyes were on your phone? Learn your lesson for next time, please. Since you were already on your phone, see our list of these 50 Amazing Instagram Accounts for Dads.

"Sorry, I don't have a $20 on me."

woman wallet

Even if you do.

"Here's the thing, bub…." 


"… You don't want to use the toilet all by yourself? Well, let me explain why you should. You know, when you poop in the potty and then flush it, it disappears into this magical underground kingdom of fish and critters and plants and you know what, bub? This is crazy, really, but they use your poop—yes, your poop—in that kingdom to build houses. I know, right! Like sandcastles, but with poop! These critters need you." It's the only potty training training you'll ever need.

"This goes on your permanent record."

You get a call from school about a discipline issue? Your kid doesn't need to know that the permanent record you're referring to is the one in your brain.

"This is just nature's way of making it feel better."

bike fall

The first sight of blood with, say, a scraped knee can be a scary thing. Things not said: But it may take a couple days!

"That playground is closed for renovations."

little girl playing outside Moms Should Never Say

The last visit to the playground with the monkey bars resulted in a cast. You'll take the pestering—is it open yet, is it open yet?—over another five-hour ER wait.

"Toy Story."

Toy Story Buzz Lightyear Jokes From Kids' Movies

When they ask you what your favorite movie is, even when it's The Godfather.

"Sesame Street."

bert and ernie
YouTube/Sesame Street

When they ask you what your favorite TV show is, even when it's Breaking Bad.

"Don't cry."

crying baby ruining

Yeah, it probably is a good idea to cry. Be upset. Maybe then—maybe!—you'll never do it again.

"A big salad!"

Quinoa salad, healthy grains

When they ask you what your favorite food is, even when it's hot dogs.

To discover more amazing secrets about living your best life, click here to sign up for our FREE daily newsletter!

Filed Under