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You Can't Deny It: You've Lied to Your Kids, Too

Photograph by Twenty20

"Today Show" co-host Savannah Guthrie just shared a major moment of mombarrassment. Guthrie was flying with her 3-year-old daughter when her daughter did what toddlers usually do on an airplane: She had a total and complete meltdown. Sure that she’d either lose her mind or her seat in first class, Guthrie did what she could to soothe and calm her child. When that didn’t work, she did what many moms in total desperation do—she told her daughter a total lie.

Horrified, Guthrie admitted, “I told her that if you cry on the airplane they open up the door and throw you out.”

While she was embarrassed to have told her little one such an epic embellishment, Guthrie admitted that it totally worked and that she was thinking of the other passengers who probably didn’t want to spend the duration of the flight listening to Guthrie’s kiddo screaming.

After listening to her story, co-hosts Al Roker and Matt Lauer were both shocked. But you know who wasn't shocked?

All the moms of the world.

That’s because there are times—let’s call them the "wits end times"—when you’ve tapped into every parenting tactic, tried every mom strategy on Earth, and you’re left with no other method to deal with uncontrollable kid behavior.

So, you do what you have to do. You tell a lie.

Sure, sometimes we moms can come up with some horrible tall tales, but it’s usually just in response to some truly terrible kid behavior.

Since I'm pretty sure Savannah and I aren't the only ones to tell some white lies to their kids, here are some of my own personal doozies to show you that you're truly not alone.w


A friend of mine recently confessed that she had once told her kids she was going to call 1-800-New-Mommy after a major meltdown from one of her kids that had her yelling that she wanted a new mom. Since my little one can pull out some major episodes of “I hate you mom,” I adopted my friend's strategy and even picked up the phone to order a new and improved mom for my daughter. Needless to say, my daughter didn’t want a new mom. And to this day, every time she gives me major attitude she’ll apologize later and ask, “Please don’t call for a new mommy.” So even though the lie may send her to therapy someday, it’s better than her telling me she hates me every time she doesn’t like what I say.

Sure, go live somewhere else. I’ll help you pack.

Before becoming a parent, I vowed I’d never respond to the inevitable “I want to live with another family” complaint from my kids by telling them they could and should go live elsewhere. But, faced with one of my own professing their detest for our family, I find myself not only suggested my child go live somewhere else, but offering to help him pack. Of course, I wasn’t really going to help my kid pack up and move out. He was only 7 at the time, but he never asked to move out again. At least not lately.

You’re walking home.

I hadn’t really intended to have my 6-year-old daughter walk the busy streets of Los Angeles when I told her to get out of the car and walk. I figured she’d stop whatever awful thing she was going at the time and we’d keep driving. But she called my bluff, got out of the car and started to walk. So, this is one lie I won’t be telling again. Because the only thing worse than lying to your kid is having them call your bluff.

You become an angel when you die.

Kids start asking about death way before moms are ready to answer. So, yeah, I’ll admit that when my kids were toddlers, I told them people become angels when they die. As they’ve gotten a little older, I’ve told the truth. But thinking people became angels soothed my kid’s fears when they were little, which helped soothe mine.

I know, I know. It’s really not nice to let a child think he or she is going to get arrested by the police for being bratty.

You’ll grow a gum tree in your tummy.

I’m not a gum person and don’t really want my kids to become gum chewers. Why? It’s messy, looks kinda gross and is just one more thing I have to police. So, they don’t chew gum. But when they see other kids chomping away and ask why they can’t join them, I tell them that they’ll grow a gum tree in their stomach if they swallow it. My parents told me the same thing ... and it worked! I’m not a gum chewer!

We ran out of …

Sometimes kids don’t understand that "no more" means no more. You can fill in the blank of whatever thing you don’t want your kid to have more of: candy, dessert, juice. Every mom has got her thing and every kid will keep asking for more, more, more. So, sometimes, I just say we ran out. Hopefully, they won’t find whatever was left over stashed away in the pantry.

Kids can get arrested for being rude.

I know, I know. It’s really not nice to let a child think he or she is going to get arrested by the police for being bratty. But in a moment of desperation, I once told my kids the police might come if they continued with whatever they were doing. Sure, the kids were a little terrified, but they also stopped whatever they were doing so it was effective.

I couldn’t fix that toy.

Kids toys can be downright annoying, from the noises they make to the fact that I usually have to put them together. My daughter had a particularly annoying talking doll that needed new batteries. Instead of replacing them, I told her the doll was broken and unfixable. The annoying doll went in the trash and my kiddo quickly moved on to another annoying toy.

Your friend wasn’t available.

I like most of my kid’s friends, but on occasion they have a buddy that I just can’t stomach having over to the house. So, I don’t. And since I wouldn’t dare tell my kids they have a friend I don’t like, I just say I asked if the friend could come over and that friend wasn’t available. It's kinder than the truth, right?

The play area is closed today.

I must admit, I’m not a huge fan of taking my kids to play spaces simply because they’re expensive, I find it hard to keep track of my kids and all I do is walk around making sure they’re safe. But as you can imagine, kids want to go all the time. So, sometimes I tell my kids the place they want to go is closed. It’s not the worst lie I’ve told them, so I feel fine about this one. Plus, play areas—not fun for a mom.

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