Lies I Tell My Daughter

"They Closed the Pinkberry on Melrose and La Brea Because You Were Being a Bad Listener" and Other Lies I’ve Told My 4-Year-Old

It’s not that I advocate lying to my kids or being dishonest in any way, it’s just that I’m smarter than she is, or at least I know more than she does. Being a parent is really hard. Occasionally I find myself saying things like, “No, sweetie, we can’t watch TV because it is charging.” It’s much better than the truth. You cant say to a 4-year-old, “I’d rather you not watch TV for the next couple of hours because I’m afraid that it will make you vegetable and stunt your creative growth and all my dreams of you becoming a full grown interesting person will just go out the window.”

The coolest thing about being the parent of a kid under the age of 5 is that they will believe anything. Seriously anything. So when you desperately plead with them to do something and they don’t want to, you can say the craziest things to make them change their minds and they go for it. And you feel this silly sense of accomplishment, like, “Ha ha, I win!”

When my daughter turned four, her closet looked like a store I wish I owned on Fifth Ave or Champs-Élysées. I took insane pride in her closet. I would show all my girlfriends who came over how cool her clothes were. And then, all of the sudden, she developed her own taste and decided unless it was pink or purple, she was not wearing any other item of clothing to school. I was mortified and tired of fighting with her every morning over what she was going to wear, so I told her that the head of her school called her father and I into school to let us know she could only wear pink or purple on Mondays or Fridays or else the color police would arrest her on the other days. Then we drove by a homeless person getting arrested on the street one day and he was wearing purple and I said, “See, sweetie, there’s the color police punishing that nice man for wearing purple on Wednesday.”

There are so many more that seem to come up everyday. I don’t think I’m a bad person, but welcome to my life. Sometimes I lie to my daughter but in the end we all win.

Illustration by Margo Murphy

  • Eve Vawter

    I LOVE this and it is so so true, I do the same thing. Once my son ripped the room-service menu while we were at Disneyland Paris and my husband and I constructed an elaborate lie about how the french police would arrest him if he broke anything else which resulted in him adopting a new name, a bizarre vaguely-German sounding accent and wearing a captain hook costume for the rest of our trip. And he behaved amazingly great after that. Ha. parents are mean :( hee hee

  • Emily J. Lowther

    I find myself telling the kids nanny, to not eat so much sugar or they’ll put themselves in a diabetic coma and miss out on parties/christmas/birthdays… Which results in a lengthy discussion about what Diabetes is, and what happens when you go into a coma. That’s at least a 30 minute distraction right there 😛

  • Jocelyn Dugan

    My parents lied to me about escalator safety. They told me that unless I held onto the railing and made sure my shoes were tied, I would get sucked under and be forced to ride a bike that powered the escalator forever. I believed them, honestly believed them and then jumped the top and bottom stair. Even today, at 22, I find myself afraid of escalators and jumping the step. So, perhaps you should consider that before you lie again.

    • Megan Cunningham

      actually, my cousin got stuck in those bits at the bottom of the escalator once… he was 25, which was awkward, and his hands were in his pockets and he couldn’t get them out. my mom says he flopped around like a fish for about 15 minutes before they finally turned the thing off and got him out. so i’ve always been terrified of the things, too. omg… what if my mom lied then, too?!

  • Cristina Valencia Campos

    when i was a kind, i used to cry a lot (really, a lot) and my father told me once that i shouldnt cry that much because humas didnt have that much tears, and when i was older i wouldnt have tears to cry for the things that matter. I totally believe that until i was in a biology class and they talked about the eyes and stuff.

  • Christine Wilson

    My best friend’s mom told her when she was younger that if she ever stuck a needle in her body it would break off, go straight to her heart through the blood stream and kill her. She is scared of shots to this day, but she’s never done any intravenous illegal drugs, which was the point of the lie.

  • Becky Simmers

    The article was funny, as a mom I’ve been known to stretch the truth just because it’s far easier than giving the real answer. However, parents who beg their children to do things or feel that kids need reasons in order to listen are underestimating themselves as parents. It’s our job to parent them, not be their buddies.

  • Beth Herrin Cole

    jocelyn… my parent’s told me a similar lie about escalator! I’m still a bit afraid of them and prefer stairs… which I guess is a good thing anyway.

  • Melanie Antley Biehle

    This is hilarious. After my friend’s daughter was born, she said, “I wonder if I can convince her that the dancing fountain at The Grove is Disneyland?”

  • Sarah Lavelle

    this is really funny, and since i am not a mother, who am i to judge what gets someone through their superwoman day…but i will put on my preschool teacher hat for a second ( to say that if you hold an image of your child as a capable, confident learner, they deserve honest and logical reasons for things. i’ve had kids ask why we never watch TV at our school, and i tell them that we want their brains to do work and grow, and that when you watch television, it does most of the thinking for you.
    regardless, i really enjoyed reading this, thanks for posting!

  • Kim Barteau

    I absolutely loved this!!! i have an 18 month old daughter and i know ill probably tell little white lies for the overall good.

  • Keryn Josephine

    Probably the first article I’ve ever disliked on Hello Giggles. Oh well, I guess I can’t agree with everything.

    • Amy Ergle

      What?? this was hilarious, what’s not to love?! 😉

  • Lynda Obst


  • Emily Holbrook

    I wish there was a dislike button…..

    • sophia

      We don’t have dislike buttons. Our goal is to be supportive and positive of others.

    • sophia

      Dear Emily,

      I’m sorry you disliked my article. telling kids white lies isn’t for everyone. I personally try to create a humorous and safe environment for my kids at all times and find that in the end, it benefits my daughter when i tell a white lie here or there
      Julie Obst

  • Jane Gottlieb

    I love this! You are so funny & I never knew you were doing this & more power to you!

  • Jamie Swinnerton

    I can not tell a lie, I laughed at this. A lot. I agree that stretching the truth, maybe even going for a little white lie, is a usual trick of parenting. I do it with the kids I nanny all the time. But! It depends how far you go with it. I feel bringing the law into these little non-truths is a bit too much for a child so young. And honestly, could stifle their creative ability under fear. Otherwise, I love the lie about the TV charging. I just might use that next time they want to watch Curious George, AGAIN.

  • Molly M. Halloran

    I cannot wait to have children, just so I can tell them outrageous lies. Judge me if you will.

  • Katie Myer

    Hahaha this is hilarious!

  • Simone Campbell Williams

    Yes! This was awesome. I believe that children should be raised the best way you know how. As long as they’re healthy and happy what the hell.

  • Sharon Alcera

    i’m a preschool teacher and i do this ALL THE TIME! it may be hard to get one child to do something, but try TWENTY! i have no shame in my game, and they make for pretty funny stories.

    although, i am a victim of this. when i was a kid, my aunt gave me a dog, and at some point, my parents told me i was allergic to it, so we had to give it away (my parents aren’t really pet people at all). i sleep with a dog basically every night, and have had nothing close to any sort of allergy flare up!

    • Amy Lopez Fitzgerald

      I used to be a preschool teacher, and we had a poster of decaying teeth up in the bathroom. We used to tell the kids to brush their teeth or they would end up like the poster. Their faces were mortified, but heck, they had the cleanest teeth in town.

  • Melissa Lenz

    Awesome!! Give me break parents upset about “lying” to your kids…. Hello Santa anyone…… I’ve gotten a few sessions of great behavior under threat of Santa……. Should he be banned and the Easter bunny???? I also got some great babysitting moments when I showed my sister bags of coal from Santa…. Haha really for our coal stove but she didnt know that! And thanks mom I never peed in a pool for fear it would turn green…..!

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