Mom and Dad may say honesty is the best policy, but it is not a policy they always follow, according to a study in The Journal of Moral Education.
Parents strongly discourage their children from lying, but they often lie to influence the behavior and emotions of their kids, write authors Gail Heyman and Diem Luu of the University of California-San Diego and Kan Lee of the University of Toronto.
The researchers surveyed undergraduate students and parents of children age 2 or older. Both groups were presented with different scenarios in which a mother tells a child something she does not believe, like the police will come if he cries in the grocery store or that a rainbow appeared just for the child. The students then reported on a scale of 1 (definitely no) to 7 (definitely yes) if they had been told a similar lie as children, and the parents reported if they had told a similar lie to their kids.
Though 88% of students answered 5 or higher for at least one of the lies, 79% reported being taught that lying is unacceptable; 74% of parents reported teaching lying is unacceptable, while 75% answered 5 or higher to one or more scenarios.
Parents often lie to control behavior, avoid upsetting the child or make the child happy. "There are a lot of situations where a simple lie could get the child to behave and make your life a lot easier or make your child happy," Heyman says.
Source: USA Today