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Why The Little White Lies I Tell My Children Aren’t Going To Hurt Them

by Jenna Stewart
Jenna lives in Vermont and is behind the blog Motherhoodwithatwistofocd.com.

I’d like to preface what I am about to say by stating that I am actually a brutally honest person. You can rest assured that 99 percent of the time, if you ask me something, I will shoot it to you straight. That being said, parenting little humans is ridiculously hard, both physically and emotionally. And there are situations that call for parents to fib just a little bit from time to time, or in my case, every day. See, I am capable of telling the truth.

Everyone and their mother’s best friend’s sister like to remind me that the years are short and to enjoy every moment I have with my children, whether they are good, bad, or really ugly. But, when your day includes your toddler coloring the couch cushion with a sharpie, or projectile vomiting in the snack aisle of Costco, that can be tough, and sometimes downright impossible.

There are days when you feel like you will not survive until bedtime, and on those days, it is quite easy to convince yourself that opening a bottle of wine at 3 p.m. does not mean you’re an alcoholic, but in fact is just standard procedure while parenting toddlers.

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If the day decides to take an unexpected and unpleasant turn for the worse, and I am on the cusp of losing it, I will do anything in my power to save myself from a little misery, even if that means telling a small, and  I mean teeny, tiny, lie to my unsuspecting children.

I lie without any hesitation or guilt, for my own sanity and well being. You should too. I’m giving you permission. You’re welcome.

Here are some of my go-to, can’t fail white lies. Enjoy and use at your own discretion!

Little boy looks out the car window

1. “No, honey. It’s broken.”

What exactly broke? Anything and everything you do not want to deal with at that moment. Broken! Done!

Your toddler wants to watch Little Einsteins for the bazillionth time. Nope, sorry, that show is broken right now.

Your toddler wants the car window up, no down, no up, no down…Nope, sorry, that window is now broken. All done. kaput.

You’re toddler really wants to listen to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” but you fear that you might bash your head into the steering wheel if you have to hear it even one more time? Whoops, broken, sorry, not sorry.

It is literally a catchall. I encourage you to use it freely, and be creative.

Little boy squeezes toothpaste onto toothbrush

2. “Your teeth will fall out if you don’t brush them.”

I feel slightly guilty about this one. Brushing teeth in our house is a power struggle, a fight to the death, really, which usually results in me forcing a Thomas the Train toothbrush into my toddler’s mouth and her crying that the toothpaste is spicy (it’s bubblegum flavor) and that she doesn’t like that toothbrush (she has four to choose from).

I’ve told her multiple times about the importance of brushing, but that doesn’t really get through to her. So, I told her that her teeth would fall out if she doesn’t brush them. In reality, this is kind of true — they will actually fall out when her adult teeth are ready to come in, so I think it is really just a half-lie, and a good way for her to prepare to take good care of her permanent teeth.

That being said, last week she stopped dead in her tracks halfway down the stairs in pure panic that she had forgotten to brush, held her hands to her mouth as she ran back upstairs, to ensure that none of her teeth fell out. Clearly, I use this one a little too much.

3. “It’s bedtime.”

I don’t care if it is 5:30 p.m. and still light outside. If it has been that kind of day, the bedtime routine is starting early and that is that!

I will warn you, though, this almost always results in an early morning wake-up call. You can’t have it both ways, but if you really need a break, or just can’t deal with any more whining, pushing, yelling, or mess making that day, do it. Do it without a second thought. Most likely they are acting like little monsters because they are overtired, so in reality, you are doing them a favor too.

Grilled chicken

4. Finally, say “it’s chicken” for anything not chicken.

I have two very impossible eaters. Saying they are picky is the understatement of the century. They won’t eat anything for dinner except Annie’s mac and cheese, hot dogs, and vegetable lo mein from the local Chinese place. Anything else is a fight, one that usually ends in tears, mostly from my children, but I definitely join in on the waterworks from time to time.

If we make any kind of meat or fish, the little humans put their noses up in disgust. “Gross,” they say. My response is always the same. “But it’s just like chicken. You like chicken.” This isn’t exactly true, they don’t really like chicken, but they’ve eaten it before, and so it is a glimmer of hope in the very dark space that is dinnertime at our house.

Woman holding her finger to her lips

Toddlers like what they know. New food is scary and foreign to them, so if you want any chance of them eating something different, compare it to something they know. Chicken works for me, but you can swap that out for anything you know your mini beasts will eat. Good luck!

I know I am not alone here. What lies do you tell your little humans?

For more from Jenna Stewart, visit Motherhood with a Twist of OCD and her Facebook page.