Why You Shouldn't Lie to Your Children

If you tend to lie to your children, even with white lies, you should know that it's better to stop doing it from now on. We'll explain why.
Why You Shouldn't Lie to Your Children
María José Roldán

Written and verified by the psychopedagogue María José Roldán.

Last update: 18 May, 2023

Do you like being lied to? Obviously not. Lies aren’t at all pleasant for the one on the receiving end, and so you must ask yourself why you shouldn’t lie to your children. Although the question is simple, perhaps the answer isn’t so obvious, and even less so if you’re one of those parents who do tell the occasional white lie to your children.

It’s clear that when you lie to your children, you don’t do so maliciously or to hurt them. In fact, on many occasions, you do it because you think it’s for their own good and, above all, to protect them from the possible emotional damage that the truth may cause them. But lying isn’t always a good idea, and it’s better to tell kids the truth so that they learn to process it than to vaguely protect them with lies.

A mother and daughter talking casually on the couch.

It’s better not to lie to your children

Why shouldn’t you lie to your children? Because the reality is that there’s no reason to do so. Not even those little lies to avoid unnecessary confrontations between parents and children.

Besides, it’s essential to educate our children through truth, sincerity, and an honest attitude toward them. In this way, there’ll be no repercussions in their behavior, neither in the present nor in the future.

Lying always ends up causing anger in the one who receives those false words. In addition to anger, there’s also distrust and disappointment toward the person who’s told you that lie, knowing that you believed it at that moment because you trusted their word.

When trust is broken, it’s very difficult to restore it, and that’s why it’s so important to never, under any circumstances, lie to your children. Otherwise, they might think it’s an appropriate and acceptable behavior and use it whenever they think it will benefit them in some way, without thinking about the consequences that come with lying.

False beliefs

If you’re one of those people who think that a lie is better than facing a problem head-on, then you’re living in your own lie. It’s a very outdated belief that only people who habitually lie are able to believe. They justify themselves by thinking that lying more than usual isn’t a bad thing because “it’s a lesser evil for a greater good.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. Lying is a great evil whichever way you look at it. Children, sooner or later, will discover the lie and will distrust you. You shouldn’t lie to your children because you can destabilize their development and even their maturity.

The consequences of lies

There are some consequences of lying to your children that parents don’t think about when they use them. They think that it’s a lie without malice and that it won’t cause any kind of harm, either in the short term or in the long term. But, as we’ve said, this isn’t the case.

In fact, when children realize that your words aren’t honest and that you’re trying to make them believe something that they feel isn’t true or that they begin to doubt,  they’ll feel differently, and none of this is positive . Because children are very intuitive beings and they know more than they tell you and they sense more than they show you.

When you lie to your children, this is how they feel…

There are a variety of feelings that your child may experience if you lie to them.

A mother talking sincerely to her daughter about a difficult subject.
  • Mistrust toward you. Gaining trust is complicated. Is it really worth losing it over a lie?
  • Sadness. Sadness is accompanied by disappointment and, in addition, you feel little empathy from the person doing the lying.
  • Anger. Children feel anger because they don’t understand why their parents lie to them and tell them things that aren’t true. They’re the most trusted people in the world and they lie to them. It doesn’t make sense to little ones and can be truly detrimental to their development.
  • Disappointment. As we’ve already mentioned above, disappointment in the face of lying is imminent. The person who lies is also disappointed in themselves because, after a lie, they enter a toxic loop that’s difficult to get out of.

So,  if you don’t want your children to feel everything we’ve just discussed , it’s as easy as not lying to them. By not lying to your children, you’ll be doing them the best favor of their lives: Helping them understand the importance of assertive communication, honesty, and trust between people. And, most of all, they’ll know that they can turn to you for the truth in any situation.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Bilbao, A. (2015) El cerebro del niño explicado a los padres. Editorial: Plataforma Actual.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.