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-OldJulia Obst

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

  • Julie Huff Cotton

    Love your blog Makes me laugh every time I read a new post. I have a 15 yr old and a 2 yr old. White lies were made for moms. Anyone that doesn’t understand the humor in your blog should not read it. Humor is not for everyone. :)

  • Donna Michelle Chavez

    When my son was about 8 he was bitten by a mouse. Everyone knows how boys can be at that age about hygiene. Well I made a fake call to poison control and then proceded to tell my son that they told me that he needed
    to immediately go wash his hands , wash behimd his ears, brush his teeth, and what ever other hygienic things I could think of at the time or he would get very sick and probably end up in the hospital. I told him he would have to continue doing this for a verylong time. It worked. That goes to show we can sometimes pull it off with older kids too!

  • Cassandra Cavazos

    Hello! Ive just come across this when a friend posted about it and how lying to your kids is lazy parenting. I dont think thats the case. I havent had kids, but ive got a younger sister i had a hand in Everyone lies to some degree and most times it is to their benefit. If your child is a happy one who is anyone to judge. Keep up what youre doing(within reason) :) love the stories btw

  • BatSheva Vaknin

    Just discovering your blog… truly hilarious and VERY familiar… unfortunately, at this point, my 7 yr old boy debunks most of the lies I tell to my 5 yr old girl. Still, the idea of “police coming” is still a pretty good one, even for the 7 yr old! Would love to share with you my blog as well, here’s a good one that kind of fits with the theme:

  • April Monelo

    this was funny! i can relate. i want to build character in my kids, and so, most of the time i take the effort to explain and teach about the world around and how to live in it… but there are times when mommy and kids are just not up to a battle and a funny little explanation that diffuses the situation is better than taking EVERY moment seriously.

  • Stephanie Fritch

    One day I decided not to believe Santa was not real, and started setting traps around the house to catch him a week later I received a letter from the North Pole, apparently Santa was disappointed that I no longer believe in him. Scared me silly as a child, but not I think it’s the funniest thing my mom has ever done

  • Dawn Cartey

    My mum used to tell me that the TV didnt work during the summer holidays. Never did me any harm. She also told me that Santa and the Easter Bunny were real, so i’m guessing that the people here that don’t like lying to their kids have told them about those ‘lies’ also?
    Also, i trust my mother implicitly. Just because she got me away from the telly and into the garden does not make her a liar. It makes her creative.

    • Julie Obst

      THANK YOU for that Dawn:)

  • Lacey Whyte

    My daughter is nearly two and I haven’t felt the need to lie to her. That may change in the future but as of now, I don’t see what help that could possibly be. I don’t understand why you feel that you can’t tell her the real reason you don’t want her to watch tv sometimes; I would. I feel as though the contstant lying, no matter how small, would just fester and really have an impact on our relationship in the future (teen years and all that jazz) which is when we’d really need the dialogue open in order for our kids to flourish. Not to mention that when she realized what you have been doing, she is going to think that lying is just fine.

    • Simona Pérez

      Thank you so much for that answer: you give me hope.
      I find this article and most of the answers highly disturbing. I didn’t have the courage to reply before ’cause, since I’m not a mother, what do I know about dealing with kids?
      Anyway, in my humble opinion, lying is being disrespectful to another person (and yes, I think children are persons xD). Children are told not to lie, but actions speak louder than words and I’m afraid of two things: first, that these children will be liars, and second, that they won’t trust there mothers when they grow up.
      I know lies are sometimes necessary, but I think one should lye in exceptional cases, not on a daily basis.

    • Julie Obst

      This blog is meant to be humorous and light. I tell my daughter harmless things like”if you don’t brush your teeth, the sugar bugs will eat away at them”, I don’t think telling her about color police will somehow destroy our relationship or teach her to lie in the future. If anything she will probably look back and laugh about the silly white lies I told her to get her to go to bed, brush her teeth or brush her hair. I’m quite sure that as a parent when your child gets older, you will stretch the truth at one point or another to get your child to do something that is beneficial to him/her. if not. more power to you! But just remember, as long as your child lives in a happy and healthy environment that’s all that matters.

  • Beckei Wright

    Lol I’m SO excited to do that when I have kids..

  • Kelley Caldwell Crusius

    Kids understand way more than they are given credit for. A funny article, but definitely not my jam. I tell my kids the truth, and do it in a colorful, funny and mostly adult, way. They are hilarious and wise kids. I’m definitely not perfect, and to each their own. Kind of made me sad, though.

  • Amy Lopez Fitzgerald

    This article is hilarious. I’m a nanny & I tell the kids that the stray, tailless, black cat outside our house (in San Francisco) is an Urban Panther. I tell them if they flick the lights on & off it’s not a disco, it will start a fire. My mom used to say to me when I was little, “If you dont eat, you don’t poo and if you don’t poo, you die”. So, when I was a preschool teacher I told a kid that and he got constipated later that week (totally unrelated) at his home. His mom wondered why he was crying so much, so he informed her that I said he was gonna die. So, I got a pretty colorful phone call from his Mom that day – but I will never regret passing on my Mother’s wisdom. And I do recall, that child didn’t die.

  • 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…..!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Katie Myer

    Hahaha this is hilarious!

  • Molly M. Halloran

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

  • 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.

  • Jane Gottlieb

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

  • Emily Holbrook

    I wish there was a dislike button…..

    • 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

    • sophia

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

  • Lynda Obst


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