Written by: Alison Todd
We have all been guilty of using white lies we tell our kids – If you eat all your carrots, you’ll get x-ray vision. If you pull faces and the wind changes, your face will stick. Fluffy the dog has gone on holiday to the vets and liked it so much, he won’t be coming back. And the stork delivers mail order babies direct to the door. Yeah right.
There are lies, damned lies and then there are the ones you tell your kids…
Who in their right mind would believe this nonsense? Actually, our children do, because 90% of parents admit routinely lying, or telling tall tales to their children.
However, a poll of modern mums and dads suggests telling porkies is a well-used weapon in the parenting arsenal, with mums tending to do it slightly more than dads. You never know when they may come in handy – after all, preparation is half the battle, so here are the top Great White Lies we tell our kids:
‘Don’t pull that face’
Funny face making is a part of childhood, but at times, it’s inappropriate. If your child insists on gurning and pulling their tongue out at every available opportunity, tell them their face will stick if the wind changes direction. You would be surprised at how quickly this can reset an expression.
‘Be good or Santa Claus won’t visit and you’ll get a lump of coal’
The great Santa conspiracy is one of the biggest of all time. Usually, kids believe in Santa until they’re seven or eight, and then it’s time to break the news very gently. However, if your child misbehaves, telling them that Santa Claus will skip the house if they carry on being naughty, is a great way to get them to eat their greens, tidy their room, or stop ripping their little sister’s hair out.
‘Mummy and daddy are taking a nap’
Oh God: He’s walked in while you were at it. Thankfully you weren’t jumping off the wardrobe at the time. If your child catches you in the act, it’s best to say that you were taking a nap. Avoid embarrassing situations in the first place by fitting a lock on the door.
‘Eat your crusts or your hair won’t go curly’
In hindsight, this is a ridiculous lie. Kids don’t want curly hair nowadays – straight is all the rage. And I should know, because I’ve been blessed with hair that would make Brian May envious. So possibly in hindsight, it may be best to say that eating crusts will make your hair go STRAIGHT. After all, have you seen the price of a pair of GHD hair straighteners? Crusts are much cheaper.
‘Eating spinach will make you big and strong – just look at Popeye’
Encouraging kids to eat any greens is a good thing, especially spinach, as it is rich in vitamins C, caretonoids, vitamin K and iron. These nutrients are especially essential to small children, but did you know that Popeye’s dependence on spinach was due to a misplaced decimal point in a survey of nutritious foods?
‘Where did Fluffy go?’
Telling a child their beloved pet has died can be harrowing, especially if they are very young and have little concept of death. If you don’t think they could deal with the cruel truth, tell them Fluffy has gone on holiday and liked it so much, he won’t be coming back, rather than how he died horribly, choking on a chicken bone and foaming from the mouth.
‘Where do babies come from?’
Depending on the age of your child, this probing, and often embarrassing question can have several answers. Saying that the stork delivers babies is fine for very young children, but kids of school age will already be hearing playground rumours. In this case, it’s best not to tell an all-out lie – simply be lenient with the truth. For instance, you could certainly get away with saying ‘a baby grows in mummy’s belly – it starts like a seed, and grows into a flower.’
When your child becomes older and more inquisitive, then it’s time to explain the facts of life. Note the word FACTS there. A library book or website, with illustrative examples, can help. Try not to blush, laugh, or skimp on the details – be as factual as possible, and answer questions sensibly. And just because you’ve opened Pandora’s box, and told them the facts of life, it doesn’t mean they’re going to go off and start copulating the moment they’re out of sight. Inform them about the age of consent, and what could happen if they were to break the law. A stern warning like this, combined with the dangers of pregnancy, and STIs should put them off sex for a good few years to come.
Be honest in the end
There are plenty more little lies we tell our kids, but remember to tell them the truth as they get older, and explain your reasons for lying in the first place. Explain the difference between a black lie and white lie – after all, we wouldn’t want them to grow up thinking that lying in general is a good idea…