A study from 2012 based on parent-children interactions stated that 84 % of parents in the US and 98 % of parents in China advisedly lie to their children in order to make them act in an acceptable way. Lying to children is clinically referred to as “instrumental lying”.
Here are the most popular lies US and Chinese parents tell their children according to the study:
- The most common lie told by parents in both US and China is when a child is having a tantrum in public and is threatened by the parent to be left alone if it doesn’t start behaving.
- Lying about buying a toy “some other time” when the child is comporting itself is also told by parents quite often.
- According to the study, parents lie mainly about misbehaviour, spending money and food.
- In US parents lie more about imaginary characters such as the tooth fairy and Santa Claus than Chinese parents do.
- Researchers state that parents might lie to their children due to the stress they are under when a child is comporting itself badly.
- An US parent said that they would do “whatever it takes” when put in an impossible situation with a child.
- Another parent stated that most lies he had told his children were out of despair and he wouldn’t have come to that if there was any other way the children would do what they were told.
- The research found that mothers and fathers lie equally to their children but parents in China accept the fact far more lightheartedly than those in US.
- A Chinese parent said that well-meant lies are acceptable when teaching children since they can contribute to positive development and prevent bad behaviour.