Yep. Many do this but to what extent and to what ends?
Most parents tell lies to their children as a tactic to change their behaviour, suggests a study of families in the United States and China.
The study, published in the International Journal of Psychology, examined the use of “instrumental lying” – and found that such tactically-deployed falsehoods were used by an overwhelming majority of parents in both the United States and China – based on interviews with about 200 families.
The most commonly used lie – popular with both US and Chinese families – was parents pretending to a child that they were going to walk away and leave the child to his or her tantrum.
“The pervasiveness of this lie may relate to the universality of the challenge parents face in trying to leave a place against their child’s wishes,” say the researchers.
Although levels of such “instrumental lying” were high in both countries, they were highest in China.
The study found there was an acceptance of such lies among parents when they were used as a way of reinforcing desirable social behaviour.
The researchers, headed by Gail D. Heymana, Anna S. Hsua, Genyue Fub and Kang Leeac, concluded that this raises “important moral questions for parents about when, if ever, parental lying is justified”.
Here is link to the original paper.
The results of this study are disturbing. As a rational parent, I disagree with these tactics. I try to promote thinking, examining the situation and making the best decision. So, I can not condone making up a story in order to get the desired behavior. It’s a bribe, a deception which undermines the relationship you have with your child and their future behavior and trust.
For example, a child wants a toy in a store that you don’t wish to buy. Why lie and say “not now, some other time” when there will be no other time? Tell the truth. You don’t need that, we can’t afford it, it’s not good for you. And explain why. That teaches a child real life lessons. And it also helps prevent further bad behavior the next time.
Also, how about teaching social manners properly instead of coercing with lies. A tantrum or other improper behavior should be discouraged for its own worth, not just to make things easier for the parent. Remove the child and explain clearly what the issue is that you have with the behavior. Again, teach the child real life lessons. It pays dividends sooner AND later.
I never have told my kids intentional lies. Skeptics are rather averse to telling tales of heaven, monsters or Santa Claus as real. If there was something I wanted to avoid, I explained I would NOT tell them about it at that moment but did not substitute the non-truth. It’s neither fair nor helpful to substitute a convenient lie for the harsh truth, especially when it comes to your kids. Kids don’t need anymore myths and lies in their lives, there is enough on television and all around them. Teach them how to evaluate the real world in a fair way, not a fantasy one. That will serve them all their lives.