“Santa is real,” and other acceptable lies to tell children

I don’t have a favourite child

Those of us who have siblings remember a time when our sibling received special treatment, and out of jealousy, we accused our parents of preferential treatment. Depending on how well your parent lied, you either walked away knowing that wasn’t the case, or hardened and emotionally scarred.

We later grow up to learn that parents do, actually, prefer one child over the other, and that changes depending on circumstance. Remember that time when you yelled and screamed because you didn’t want broccoli and your brother ate his without any fuss? Yeah, you were not the preferred child in that situation.  


I do it because I love you

Ah, if it isn’t the old justification for corporal punishment.  This one is often interchangeable with “This hurts me more than it hurts you” — as if Mom pulling down your pants and giving you a spanking somehow injures the moral fabric of her soul.  

“I do it because I love you” translates more directly to “You’re being a shit and I’ve run out of ways to express it.”

They don’t sell batteries for that toy anymore

Remember that one musical toy you kept winding up and letting go while Dad was trying to get work done? You may appreciate how annoying that was now (and also find that some of your colleagues never grew out of the behaviour), but back then the lie was traumatic and heart-wrenching. You mean I may never experience the joy of Simon the Cymbal-playing Monkey again? The one that Uncle Stan got me for Christmas?

Your parents never told you at the time, but it’s very likely they never got over their hatred of Uncle Stan.

The important thing is that you participated

Remember the first time you went to a track meet, and you came dead last in the 100m dash closely following Carl, who easily managed to outrun you despite having a stunted leg? Mom or Dad may have hugged you and told you that winning doesn’t matter, but that’s only because they’re hoping that your high grade in math would somehow help you in the job market, and that the glory showered down upon the winner of the race was as short-lived as possible.

Your parents basically learned to play the long game at an early age, but that isn’t to say that winning something athletic would hurt every now and again.

You can’t have sex before marriage

Perpetrators of this lie tell their children that they can’t have sex before marriage as if it is a universal, physical maxim that all society follows innately.  

It actually holds just about as much truth as “You can’t have any dessert until you finish your vegetables.” You can, in fact, have sex before marriage just as much as you can steal the tub of ice cream from the freezer while Mom isn’t looking.  

At some point, you grow up to learn that your parents’ morals aren’t universal truths, and vegetables, like sex, can be consumed in whichever order you please.