Does Lying to Your Kids Create Adults Who Lie?

Debate Topic List: 64. Is it acceptable to lie to children?

Have you ever told a little white lie? How about to your kids? When your little one– maybe he’s begging for a toy and you tell them, “I forgot my wallet, we can’t get it.” Or maybe they’re acting out and you threaten, “If you don’t behave, I’ll call the police.” Have you all ever tried that?

Well, it turns out little white lies could lead to grown-up liars. That’s what one study found. And this is one you have to pay attention to. If you’re a parent out there, more than 370 adults filled out questionnaires and it was crazy. The more a participant was lied to as a kid, the more they lied as adults. You’re grooming behavior.

Hey, you are setting an example, right?


Do you ever tell a little white lie to your kids?

To my kids?

I’m sure I did.

Do you still?

Given that your daughter’s a psychiatrist? Dad, you’re lying to me!

My daughter’s a psychiatrist and my son is a neurosurgeon. It’s a little tough to lie to them.

Okay, you guys want to hear. They call me out. Especially my daughter.

“Hey, dad, can we go on a family vacation to Tahiti?”

“Kids, I can’t afford it.”


I will tell you guys. I’m waiting for the day where they can say, “Okay, we’ll take you.”

The ultimate lie my parents told me when I was a little kid was that they had picked me up from the trashcan. I actually adore my parents; they’re very good parents. They thought they were being funny. I think they thought they were being sarcastic. I do not know what was going on. For the first six years of my life, I literally thought I was adopted. I really did, because again, I’m gullible. So I was like, “I don’t know, I don’t look like anybody in my family. My parents said that they picked me up from a trashcan, haha.” And my parents were like, “Why are you telling everyone that?” I was like, “You said that to me once.” They’re like, “We were kidding.”

Oh my god.

I didn’t know that. Yeah, I know.

It explains so much.

Oh my God.

But it just goes to show, kids hang on to these.

You really do, and that’s exactly the point, kids are like sponges. You are learning the way the world works in those early years of life. And when something happens, you think that that’s how it works. And so when you become an adult, even without thinking about it sometimes, you just adopt those same patterns. Even worse, I’ve seen parents who actually reward criminality. Like if their kid steals a pack of gum, they’re like, “Ah, it’s no big deal. It’s only $2, who cares?” So see, that is what leads to that antisocial behavior in the future, when these adults also grow up to have more risk of that.

This world that kids live in is so beautiful. They don’t need to know certain things.

I don’t think so.

I think one example, and this is something, I hate to say this, but I take the ER, where I was trained as an ER doctor, sometimes you have to tell a host of, I don’t want to call them white lies, that’s not the right term. But when you deal with those situations and kids, and there’s some stuff. Can be too big for a kid. So, just, you have to use your best judgment. But I think this article or this study, if nothing else, just proves to you that if you’re lying to your kids each and every day, just as a matter of course, your kids could end up being…


Pinocchios as adults.

Pinocchios, yeah, so just remember, your kids are watching, try to set a good example. If there’s something unresolved in you that’s leading you to lie, take care of it. Because, as a parent, you do have a huge responsibility to kind of set them right.


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