Why Parents Should Never Lie to Their Children (17 Sound Reasons)

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Lifevif Team and JC Franco

Sometimes as parents, we feel it would be best to lie to our children about certain things. But we don’t always think of the long-term consequences of our actions. 

Sometimes it seems easier not to have to explain something scary or complicated to our child that we feel it can wait for later. Or perhaps you’re just not that open with your children. That said, there are serious downsides to lying to your children.

Lying to your child, even about something small, could destroy their trust in you as a caregiver, and they may learn to expect you to lie about other things as well. Telling a lie may make your child feel insecure or mistrusting of things you’ll tell them in the future.

In this article, we’ll discuss many reasons why you should never lie to your child, no matter how much the truth will hurt. 

1. It Could Destroy Their Trust in You 

By lying to your child, even if you had good intentions, you could destroy the trust they have in you. Just one lie could break their trust, especially if the lie is about something they value or hold close to their hearts. Unfortunately, once trust is destroyed, it’s exceptionally hard to get back to what it was before.  

2. They Could Learn to Lie 

By lying to your child, you could unintentionally teach them to lie about things, both big and small. This is because children learn by example, and by lying to your child, you are teaching them it’s okay to lie. If it’s okay for mom and dad to lie in certain situations, it can be okay for them to lie, too, right?

3. They Might See Lying as a Good Thing

By watching you lie about things to other adults, your child may start thinking that lying is a good thing and that they have no reason to feel bad about lying. Movies might also depict lying as beneficial to getting what a person wants. A child might witness that and start to think that lying could improve their life.

4. They Will Lie to You

When you lie to your child about anything, you are, in a way, giving them permission to lie about things themselves. This will make it pointless to punish them for lying or telling them that lying is wrong because you yourself lied. Leading by example is important if you don’t want your child to lie.

5. They Could Develop Aggressive Behavior Problems 

Children who are contentiously lied to can develop aggressive behavioral issues due to the mistrust they have developed in adults. It’s frustrating for a child to feel lied to or if something is being withheld from them, which is one of the reasons the frustration could present in an aggressive way.

6. They Could Start to Develop Anti-Social Behavior

If you lie to your child periodically, they may also learn to expect the lies from others, leading to them isolating themselves from family and friends. This will negatively affect their future social skills. 

Children who expect to be lied to may not trust other people in the future. An untrusting approach to life could lead to failed or difficult relationships.

7. You Could Evoke Shame 

If your child sees you lying about something you did or about something you ate, for example, they may see lying as an act of shame. You may also unintentionally teach them to be ashamed of doing the things you lie about to others. 

8. A Lie Could Put Your Child in Danger 

Lying to your child may put them in a situation that could’ve been avoided by telling them the truth. An example of this would be telling your child it’s safe to walk a mile to their friend’s house alone, even though you know our world is quite dangerous. 

It’s better to be transparent with your children so that there is no room for confusion or putting oneself in a dangerous situation.

9. They Might Turn to the Wrong Person for the Truth 

If your child asks questions about a topic you’re not ready to discuss, don’t lie to them about the answers. This could lead to them asking the wrong person for help with their problem. Instead, find a way to answer their questions that is appropriate for their age rather than lying or withholding the truth. 

Rather feel awkward and embarrassed than put your child in a bad situation or send them looking for answers with someone else who may not be as gentle or caring as you can be.

10. They Might Not Be Able to Distinguish Between a Lie and Honesty 

If you continuously lie to your child, they may slowly lose their ability to tell the difference between a lie and the truth. This could lead to them being overly trusting of strangers and believing things they shouldn’t. 

This could also be a result of keeping bad company. If your child spends time with friends who lie a lot or twist the truth, they may start to mimic the behavior themselves. 

11. They Could Develop Distrust in Others 

When you lie to your child about things for no reason at all, you could teach them that their friends and other family members will do the same. This could lead to them mistrusting people that should be trusted. 

12. They Won’t Feel Ashamed to Lie 

Sometimes we see lying as a good thing, but children don’t have the same reasoning skills as adults. This could lead to them lying about their own things and not realizing that lying is, in fact, wrong and not something fun or good. 

It’s important for children to understand the consequences of lying. And that doesn’t mean the potential punishment but rather the possible negative impact that lying could have on their relationships and lives. 

13. They May Stop Confiding in Others 

When your child comes to you about a personal matter that they need answers to, lying to them about it may lead to them not coming to you for other issues in the future. They may also stop confiding in other adults in their life and try to solve all their problems alone and quietly. 

14. They Will Expect Adults to be Liars 

When you lie to your child about many things, they will expect all adults to do the same. This will lead to them no longer asking for help when they need it or for advice when they need assistance. 

15. They May Pass on Your Lies to Others 

If you lie to your child about something trivial, they may pass the lie on to their friends, thinking it’s the truth. This could lead to someone being hurt or believing something completely false, affecting how they view the world. 

16. You Could Do More Harm Than Good 

Sometimes we may think that lying to our children to spare their feelings can only be a good thing. But in reality, if your child discovers your lie, it could hurt them more than the truth would’ve. 

17. A Painful Truth Can Be Better Than a Convenient Lie

Let’s say that your family dog suddenly passed away, but you’re not sure how to tell your child. Some of us might say that the dog went to live on a farm so that your child won’t be sad, but this could confuse your child and make them develop negative feelings of resentment or anger.

In Closing 

A painful truth will always be more beneficial than a happy lie. Not only will your child learn that you will be honest with them regardless of the topic, but they will also come to you when they need to confide in you about something as they know you won’t react to their honesty poorly.

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who share their experiences and knowledge about the "Seven F's of Life".

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco is a New York-based editor for Lifevif. He covers topics like spirituality, philosophy, finance, sports, games, and food. JC earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business with a Marketing Concentration at Mercyhurst University. He is a certified USPTA professional who teaches tennis in the New York City Metropolitan area. He has passed the Level I exam of the CFA program.