"Your pet has gone to live on a farm" is top little white lie

Blue Cross research has revealed the most popular little white lies parents tell to their children.


  • Father Christmas is watching you
  • We'll see
  • We're almost there
  • We'll come back another time
  • Carrots will make you see in the dark
  • I always know when you're lying
  • We can come back and buy that toy next time
  • I didn't bring my purse with me today
  • If you watch the television too much, your eyes will go square
  • If you keep making that face, the wind will change and it will freeze
  • If you tell lies your nose will grow
  • If you touch it, it will break
  • They don't sell replacement batteries for that toy
  • If you swallow chewing gum it stays in your stomach for seven years
  • There are fairies at the bottom of the garden
  • When the ice cream truck plays that music, it's run out of ice cream
  • If you leave the house with wet hair, you'll get sick
  • This is medicine, you wouldn't like it
  • Father Christmas prefers a beer and crisps to a mince pie and milk
  • Your pet went to live on a farm in the country

The top 20 list of little lies that adults use reveals that four out of five parents have told their offspring something that wasn’t true, including “Your pet has gone to live on a farm”, when it had in fact died.  

“Father Christmas is watching you,” “Carrots will make you see in the dark” and “Your pet has gone to live on a farm” are among the other top white lies parents tell their kids, the survey of 2,000 parents showed.

Blue Cross offers advice and guidance to help parents talk openly to children about pet loss as part of our free and confidential Pet Bereavement Support Service.

Tracie McGrory, Pet Bereavement Support Service Manager, said:  “There are lots of different reasons why parents might tell little white lies to their children.

“However there are times, such as the death of a family pet, parents may use little white lies to protect their child from emotional harm – sometimes parents simply don’t know how best to explain the death of a pet to a young child.

“When a pet dies, it may be a child or young person’s first experience of the death or loss of something close to them and it can bring about confusing thoughts and feelings. 

“Our Pet Bereavement Support Service takes hundreds of calls and emails every week, many of which are from parents who are seeking advice on how to explain the loss of a pet to their kids.”

The majority of Brits say that they lie to their children to protect their innocence, save them from being upset or to stop them behaving badly.

The top white lie told to kids about their pets is after one dies or has gone missing is “Your pet has gone to live on a farm in the countryside”.

On average, parents think that children are ready to start learning about death at the age of seven and a half.

Forty per cent of parents say that they would definitely lie to their child to keep up their belief in Father Christmas, the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny. And over half say they’d tell the truth about a pet dying.

Tracie continued: “The way in which children and families deal with pet loss may lay the foundation for how they cope with other losses later in their life.

“We’d always advise parents to be honest with their children about pet loss, but knowing how to deal with it can be very difficult. Our Pet Bereavement Support Service is a free and confidential and we are open 365 days a year to help those that need it.”

If you need to give your child some sad news about their beloved pet, read our advice or get in touch with us today.

— Page last updated 05/03/2021