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Monday, October 14, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Mama Bear Moxie: Telling the truth to your kids can be complicated

By Kristina Phelan For The Spokesman-Review

I want to be an honest mom. Really, I do. But there are times when I find myself flat out lying to my children. I look them straight in the eyes and tell them a little fib hoping that they can’t detect the obvious tells covering my face. I do the one thing that I don’t want them to do to me.

I have a very vivid memory from when I was a small child, probably around 5 or 6. I had asked my mom if she had ever lied to me. She looked me straight in the face and told me no. And I believed her. I asked her to never lie to me in the future, and she agreed.

Oh how my heart was crushed when, a few years later, I realized that moms lie all of the time. I remember being disappointed but still firm in the reality that I could trust my mom. I never doubted her love or honesty because I began to understand that she was protecting me. I trusted that she would tell me the truth when she thought it was appropriate to do so.

I wrestle with the idea of lying to my kids. I want to be honest with them. I want to have an open dialogue about life and be able to communicate with them freely. I want them to know that they will always get a firm answer when they ask me something. However, especially with my littlest one, I find myself answering “maybe” or “we’ll see” when I don’t want to deal with the onslaught of complaining or attitude that a firm “no” brings.

Is that lying, or is it just parenting?

Because every parent has done it. Parents lie to their kids, sometimes multiple times a day. We do it because we want to protect them. We want to shield them from the hurtful truth. As a parent, am I really lying to my child if I have told them parts of the truth that I have deemed appropriate for their age and maturity level?

Maybe moms lie because there are just so many opportunities. I took a random day and counted the questions my three kids asked me from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. They asked 128 questions. I was shocked. 128! That was 128 times I had to stop and think about my response. It was 128 times I had the opportunity to tell the truth, give a partial truth or my go-to “we’ll see” answer.

Still, I am conflicted as I continually tell my children not to lie and believe that it is an important aspect of my faith. The Type A side of me says that every lie, no matter how small, is bad. But the Type B side of me actively justifies having to fib when asked 128 questions in a day. Don’t get me wrong, I try to be honest but more often than not I am just somewhat answering the question in order to keep the peace.

What do you think? Is any form of a lie OK when it protects your children? Are fibs or answers like “we’ll see” OK to use in order to keep your sanity as a parent? Let me know your thoughts by connecting with me on Facebook at Mama Bear Moxie.

Kristina Phelan is a former Spokane-area resident now living in Illinois. Contact her at

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