Don’t tell lies to your children, or else they will also lie to you later

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Father and his daughter reading book in bed.

“If you don’t eat it, I will give it to the cat,” it may sound as a simple lie to prompt your children to eat something.

But, next time when you say simple or casual lies to your children, be careful. Because, it can affect their behaviour and they will also tend to say lies when they grow up. They will also tell lies to you later.

A new psychology study led by Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) suggested that they are associated with detrimental effects when the child becomes an adult.

The research was done involving 379 Singaporean young adults who were asked whether their parents lied to them when they were children, how much they lie to their parents now, and how well they adjust to adulthood challenges.

Interestingly, it was found that those who listened to more lies from their parents as children lied more to their parents as adults. They also said they faced greater difficulty in meeting psychological and social challenges. Adjustment difficulties include disruptiveness, conduct problems, experience of guilt and shame, as well as selfish and manipulative character.

Lead author Assistant Professor Setoh Peipei from NTU Singapore’s School of Social Sciences said, “Parenting by lying can seem to save time especially when the real reasons behind why parents want children to do something is complicated to explain. When parents tell children that ‘honesty is the best policy’, but display dishonesty by lying, such behaviour can send conflicting messages to their children. Parents’ dishonesty may eventually erode trust and promote dishonesty in children.”

“Our research suggests that parenting by lying is a practice that has negative consequences for children when they grow up. Parents should be aware of these potential downstream implications and consider alternatives to lying, such as acknowledging children’s feelings, giving information so children know what to expect, offering choices and problem-solving together, to elicit good behaviour from children.”

It was found that parenting by lying could place children at a greater risk of developing problems that the society frowns upon, such as aggression, rule-breaking and intrusive behaviours.

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