According to the International Journal of Psychology, us parents are using controlled lies to promote good behaviour in our children.
Basically, we’re telling porky pies until the cows come home to get them to do what we want.
I don’t think we set out to be deceitful; it’s not like we wake up in the morning and think right, what whopping great tales can I mislead my kids with today?
But there they are nonetheless – the constant flow of untruths.
Some lies are in the name of make-believe – Santa, the Tooth Fairy. Through these lies, we create exciting moments for our children (before tearing them painfully away with the truth).
Other lies are told just to save our bacon.
‘I have no idea how the robot you made ended up in the recycling bin’ or ‘maybe it was mice that ate the last of your Christmas chocolate?’
Some lies are told to cover up our own bad behaviour, like when nanny says she’s popping outside to check the plants and comes back smelling of menthols, or that time the policeman told me it was okay to drive fast just this once as we were really late.
I do stand by the fact that wine makes mummy clever. That is no lie.
Some lies, as the study suggests, are used to persuade our children to do the things we think they should. But maybe we need to revise some of these.
As a child, my dad assured me carrots would help me see in the dark and broccoli would put hairs on my chest – while I was taken with the idea of night vision, a hairy chest was never really on my agenda. You didn’t really sell that one to me Dad – broccoli still makes me nervous at 32.
But I wonder how much of a problem all this lying – or what I like to call ‘misleading with positive intentions’ – really is.
Is there a fine line between those innocuously-titled ‘white lies’ and the kind of troublesome whoppers that would make Burger King jealous, or should we just bag them all up and hang them on our increasingly long noses?
Do we even need to lie anyway? Maybe if we just told the truth, we would be teaching our children the realities of life.
But how would that go?
‘Actually love, that is a shocking drawing of a horse, in fact it’s really just a load of scribbles.’
Or ‘yes, I can still see you even though you have your eyes closed and I’m actually really bored of this game.
‘No, I don’t want to do it again – I want to go to the pub’.
The evidence makes us look like compulsive fibbers, but don’t be too quick to believe it – it’s probably all just lies.