Dear Mr. Dad: Like most parents, I encourage my kids to tell me the truth and I always give them consequences for lying. The other day, just after I’d taken away my 9-year-old’s video game privileges for lying to me about having done his homework, I realized that I lie to my kids all the time. Is there a difference between a parent’s lies and a child’s?
A: What a great question. As adults, we know how important it is to tell truth and we teach our children that it’s wrong to lie. But then we turn around and do it—right to their face—every day (and this goes far beyond the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus). In fact, several recent studies have found that about 90% of parents have a repertoire of completely BS stories that we tell our kids. According to researcher Gail Heyman, those lies tend to fall into four categories: diet and nutrition, getting the kids to either leave or stay somewhere, changing behavior, and money. Here are some of the best ones (if you haven’t used them already, you’re free to add them to your arsenal).