Our Sweet Little Parenting Lie

May 19, 2010

Today I would like to welcome Dionna, who has written a guest post on little white parenting lies. Dionna is a lawyer turned work at home mama of an amazing son, and she is one of those crunchy liberals her parents warned her about. You can normally find Dionna over at Code Name: Mama where she shares information, resources, and her thoughts on natural parenting and life with a toddler. I recently had a guest post there.  So, once you're done reading Dionna's thoughts on those sweet little lies, head on over to find out some of my thoughts on the same subject.


2009-09-24 16Tom and I lied to Kieran for the first 26 months of his life.

For those of you who know me, you might react to that statement with a bit of surprise. It was definitely one of my guilty secrets.* Heck, we don't even want to lie to Kieran about Santa!

Here was our lie:

We told Kieran that the ice cream truck was a "music truck." We did not mention the fact that the purpose of the music truck was to peddle crap masquerading as ice cream.

Our neighborhood ice cream truck driver is also a drug dealer. At least, that's the only conclusion we've been able to draw from the truck's frequent drive-throughs on our street. That stupid truck comes by all the time. It wouldn't raise suspicion if it drove by a couple of times each day in the summer months (and maybe a month or two on either side). But this particular truck drives around all.year.long.

It was clang clang clanging its bell in 30 degree weather this past February.

It drives by at 10:30a.m. on school days. And I don't think there are any homeschooling families sporting ice cream habits in our neighborhood.

Add to the mix the fact that Kieran is prone to incredible meltdowns when it comes to ice cream. When we decide to eat ice cream, we cannot mention it to him until we are about to put the spoon to his mouth. Otherwise, let the freak out commence.

So the ice cream truck has always been the music truck in our house.
Coming Clean
Until a few weeks ago when I read something that reminded me of something we decided early on: we will not lie to Kieran. We don't lie to Kieran about anything else, why the ice cream truck? I resolved to clear up our parenting goof.

My admission went better than I imagined. For the umpteenth time, the ice cream truck's tinny rendition of "Do Your Ears Hang Low" had woken Kieran up from his nap. I went in to snuggle him and he said "what dat?" I said "that was the music truck. [deep breath] But did you know that the music truck has something else besides music?"

His eyes were instantly awake and curious. "What? What music track have?"

I laughed sheepishly. "Well, the music truck also has ice cream. But it's not the good kind of ice cream that we like."

[blink blink] "Ice cream?" [more nervous laughter from me]

He laughed too. "Yucky?"

[That's not a lie - the ice cream in the ice cream truck is pretty gross.]

"Yes, it's yucky. Let's make a deal. Sometimes we'll go get yummy ice cream together, but let's not eat the ice cream from the ice cream truck."

[Both because it's yucky and because the driver might accidentally slip some crack into your bomb pop.]

I am very happy to report that the music ice cream truck has not been the cause of any meltdowns since I revealed its true identity. I'm keeping my fingers crossed though.

Do you believe that there is any value in "little white lies?"

Have you ever told any to your kids?


I recently asked for your guilty secrets on a post on Code Name: Mama. Thanks to everyone who played along. Here they are!

the Grumbles still eats a baloney sandwich every day for lunch.

Nicole at Navelgazing lets her 9 month old watch TV so she can take a shower.

Acacia at Be Present Mama had several secrets to get off her chest about the connections between her 3 year old and TV, junky "fruit" snacks, and disposable diapers.

Deborah at Pure Mothers has fed her 3 year old a lot of sugar with some recent holidays, but at least she's been rewarded with extra sweet love from him.

AFWife had to prevent meltdowns by slipping cookies and fruit snacks one by one to her kiddo during a recent extended shopping trip.

Amber at Strocel.com revealed that her 20 month old knows five words, one of which is "jellybean."

Someone who will remain unnamed confessed to a crime of her youth: when she was young and broke, she longed for nice sheets but couldnít afford them. She went to the department store and switched the price from two packages of cheap sheets to packages of $100 sheets. And she bought them at the lower price. She still uses them, though.

Another Sarah admits to feeding her children french fries several times a week.

Marilyn at A Lot of Loves resorted to a Kraft dinner recently.

Heather feeds her girls a cookie every time they go to the store. She is also feeling guilty that she has been unable to stick to a healthy diet for herself.

My sister, Tammy, admits to spending too much time in front of the computer despite her resolution to the contrary.

Sheryl at Little Snowflakes admits to eating Dairy Queen sundaes with her toddler semi-regularly.




you have no idea how much i love bologna.



the grumbles

figures you would, we's separated at birth.

hand pecked debb

Fried bologna is where it's at!

I think I love this Dionna, thanks for introducing her.

the grumbles

Dionna, I keep thinking about this because you and I must share an ice cream man! Our truck drives through WAY too often from March-November playing that annoying music and our truck is ALSO super creepy. What am I going to do?!?

See this is the kind of thing that in theory I can say, "No, I wouldn't lie." but when I'm actually in the situation... I don't know what's going to happen.

Will I be able to live up to my own goals?? Ahhh!

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama

Bologna gives me the heebie jeebies, I gotta admit (however, I'm pretty sure it's on my favorite Goodcents sub, so maybe I just don't know what I'm talking about).

Debb - I replied to you on that other post. (and awww shucks!)

Jamie - the thing is, it didn't start as an intentional lie. I think Kieran started calling it the music truck, or maybe he started dancing when it rolled by. So it was a lie of omission - we just didn't tell him what was in it. It's a slippery slope!

Marilyn (A Lot of Loves)

I place a very high value on the truth. I don't think I've lied to my kids. In the case of the ice cream truck in our own neighbourhood, I've told them the truck sells ice cream but we aren't going to buy any. It hasn't been much of an issue. Glad you came clean. :)


The music truck made me giggle. I guess its a partial truth though. It DOES play music and if you are never going to buy ice cream from it, then its still just that right? A truck that drives through and plays music. So, is the omission of the ice cream really a lie? Especially if that is not a meaning it holds in your house?

Just a thought! Glad you feel better though! Our truck is super creepy too but it has a recorded voice so its extra creepy!!


Hmm, these posts about lying have got me thinking... What about the "big" lies - like "You can do anything you put your mind to" and "Mom and Dad will always be here to protect you" or "The world is basically a good, safe, place"?
Do we rush our kids into the "school of hard knocks" right away? Do we always tell them the full truth about every situation? Is that always good for our kids? I don't know the answer to these questions, but your blogs have got me thinking! Thanks!


When my son was young there were many lesson for me to learn, especially around little white lies. One instance my son asked me about my family history for a school project, I for what ever reason did not hear the words school project and without thinking told my son that I was related to a famous red indian chief, Big sitting Bull. Unfortunately my son put this in his project and read this out to his class. His teacher was not too please with him, but after finding out what happened the teacher, my wife and also my little son were none to impressed with me. Mind you even though I was very sorry for the whole situation, it did not stop me making a very similar mistake with my little lies all over again. My son has finally forgiven me.

Lauren @ Hobo Mama

I have a hard time with this sort of thing, because sometimes the truth is rejected. Like, in your situation I might say, "Yes, that's an ice cream truck, but we're not going to have any ice cream right now." To tell him it was yucky would be a lie for me, because I love me some popsicles. So when my "no ice cream right now" claim is rejected, I have to scramble for other reasons: It costs more money than I want to spend; we're going to get something else to eat; etc. But when all those are also rejected, sometimes I find myself resorting to lies, such as, "We don't have any money for it" or similar. Which of course also doesn't work, so why do I bother?

I wonder if most of it is an unwillingness to be uncomfortable with our kids, to show them that we have standards that maybe they don't understand, to stick to those standards when they don't want us to. In the case of lying to get something accomplished ("Mom's going to leave you here alone if you don't put your shoes on"), it's trying to avoid the discomfort of not getting to do what you want to do as the adult (in that case, leave on time). I don't know. Maybe I need to sit more with the uncomfortableness, even when the result can sometimes be difficult (such as repeatedly begging for ice cream — but glad Kieran was so easygoing about it! — or being late for something).

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama

Jenn & Lauren - I tend to agree, it's not a black & white issue. I do agree with Jamie's initial thought in her guest post on my site - parents should rethink the "normal" lies that parents joke about telling their kids. I don't think explaining things in age-appropriate ways (not telling the *whole* truth, in other words) is lying - it's respecting the child's development.
Thanks for the very thoughtful comments everyone!


Can someone please explain "age appropriate"? My head hurts every time I hear that phrase.

I don't believe there is an age appropriate to not know more of something. For example as a homebirth advocate my children 2 and 3 have always heard where babies come from and how they get there. I believe the more something is said to them as a whole 'truth' or description that their understanding will be more as they get older not that they should be given more information as they get older. Is that what everyone else means by age appropriate or do I have it wrong?


By the way great blog and topic. Thank you.

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