10 Loony tunes
Honesty is the best policy. Teach your children right from wrong and you give them a moral compass for life. That is the theory, at least, but every parent knows a little white lie every once in a while can help family life run smoothly. Whether to diffuse a situation, encourage certain behaviours or just for parental entertainment, lying to children should be a part of every Mum and Dad’s skillset. Without it you will face the sort of difficult conversation we don’t always have the energy, force of will or powers of reasoning needed to impose your opinion on children. Let a child decide what goes on the car stereo on the drive to Fujairah and you could end up with a couple of hours of nursery rhymes and Justin Bieber. On the occasions when that sounds as desirable as massaging your eyeballs with a cheese grater, it is perfectly acceptable to lie and say that you left those songs at home and Mummy or Daddy are going to choose instead.
9 Tooth fairy
Due to cut backs the tooth fairy is no longer leaving cash under pillowcases. She leaves a list of chores and only when that is completed it can be handed to a parent and they will reimburse the money.
8 Noise pollution
Friends who give your children the gift of noisy toys with incessant beeps, flashes and a blaring techno soundtrack every time a button is pressed are not your friends. They hate you and they gave them the toy to make you mad. It is usually a bleepy keyboard, a noisy gun or something particularly lurid like a plastic fire engine. Fight fire with lies by removing batteries and telling your kid it is broken.
7 Web of deceit
Save yourself hours of telling kids to come offline by insisting that the Internet only works between the hours of 9am and 6pm in your area.
6 Call for back-up
Disciplining your child and setting boundaries is one of the hardest jobs a parent faces. Especially as we’re all making it up as we go along. Every single one of us is clueless and flying the best we can. So, having an imaginary institution on the end of the phone is always convenient. Putting in a pretend call to an Untidy Toy Collection Agency, Bedtime Police, or Madame Connifer’s Residential Home for Uncontrollably Naughty Children can give you the authority boost you need to make a kid do as they’re told. Not that we want to frighten our kids with threats from these fake phone calls, but it is an enduringly popular method of getting attention.
5 Lost teddy
A favourite nighttime soft toy and inseparable best friend has been left at the beach. Of course, you could drive back out again and walk miles in the dark searching for it. Or you could write a postcard from Teddy explaining he is going on holiday for a bit and will be back soon. Monumental meltdown averted (or at least postponed) and imagination sparked in the same swift move. We advise keeping a stack of postcards in a top drawer to recycle this dishonest tactic.
4 Replaced pets
Dealing with the death of a pet teaches children coping mechanisms, deepens emotional range and is an important step in their psychological development. It also makes them sad and cry a lot. So, saying they’ve gone on holiday, perhaps with the teddy you lost at the beach, is just a lot easier, and preferable, to explaining you flushed Nemo the fish down the toilet.
3 Rapid fire lies
Weeing in the swimming pool attracts sharks, fast food contains fingernails, leaving lights on stops toys coming to life, messy bedroom floors attract trolls – behind very fib is your chance to teach a life lesson.
2 Blow their mind
Every grain of sand on the beach appears when a child says “please” or “thank you”. If you don’t always mind your manners, they will be washed away forever.
1 Honesty is the best policy
Tell them that. Insist that they live the rule. But know deep down that these little fibs are what makes the world, or at least short-term peace and quiet, go round.
Will Milner is a contributing editor. He always tells his kids the truth. Unless he doesn’t want to.