Parents in fiction that lie to protect their child from the truth: a chat about it?

Fictional parents who lie to their children and then, after the child has struggled for a really long time, and now the parent is about to lose their life and then that’s when they say, “Here is the truth. I only lied to protect you”. The child either becomes angry for the lie or has some complicated feelings because now the parent is about to die.

Do you have situations like this in your stories?

In Lunar Heart, Shadow Bound I decided to twist this a little. The lie is told at first but then the parent is not good at it. Pinti insists on her father telling her the whole truth about the night he found her and what he saw. The truth doesn’t make things better. In fact, it makes it worse. But was it better if he had lied? No. Not really.

Anyway, thoughts on this topic if you have any?


Kind of…

In my current story the ‘normal’ kids will detect and callout about 99% of their parents’ lies, or the lies of any adults. For example, Hannah (Karen’s adopted daughter) is an officer in the IDF Intelligence Corps, the protégée of a Mossad agent (family friend), an expert in cyber security / warfare, and hyper-protective of her adoptive family (and equally distrusting of strangers). Good luck with lying to her.

That said, there is a major secret being kept from all but one kid.* The main character, Freyja, is a prototype hybrid clone. The first and only one of her kind.* Freyja does not know she is a clone (only five characters do know this). Freyja’s companions and close friends, including those who know this secret, treat her like a ‘typical’ teenage Israeli girl. Dov (Freyja’s mentor, bodyguard, closest companion) doesn’t want Freyja to feel more isolated or confused than she already does…and this is also the best way for Freyja to hide in the open (the ideal camouflage is one that convinces the wearer)…


Keeping this secret from Hannah was an exceptional feat. Karen financed the clone project, and no one in her household noticed.

However, Dov hates the thought of lying to Freyja (being ex-military / Special Forces, Dov thinks lying to close friends is akin to betrayal / treason), so he just omits certain truths when questioned by Freyja. I haven’t decided if Freyja will ever be told she is a clone. Dov hates that label anyway. He believes Freyja is a unique gift, not a simple copy.

Oh, in some related research, I discovered that common advice for raising adopted / orphan children is to tell them they are adopted ASAP. Waiting until ‘the right time’ or until the foster parents believe their adopted children will understand is one of the worst plans. This is known to create heightened senses of identity confusion, distrust, and isolation among adopted children. So, in my story, when Freyja asks about her family, Dov will reply that she is an orphan (being cared for / protected by Dov) with no relatives, which is the technical truth…Besides, Freyja instinctively presents the manner / nature of an adopted orphan girl, who is aware of and grateful for her rare fortune to be in Dov’s company…

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I have a situation semi-similar to this, but with a parental figure instead of a parent. I also decided to twist it a little with the circumstances being 1) The secret is about the parent-figure and really has nothing to do with the child and, 2) Telling the secret would have been genuinely more dangerous. The truth came out when it needed to.

Still, there were some complicated feelings on Elya’s part. Not only was her parent-figure the only one who truly loved, cherished, and provided for her–but due to her actual parent’s neglect and lack of care, this person was far more precious to her. Learning there were secrets kept between them was heartbreaking.

On the other hand, they were in a situation which didn’t exactly allow her to react. If Faun had been given the chance to sit her down and tell her the truth, Elya’s reaction would have been far different. However, soon after learning the truth, she and Faun are carted away and imprisoned–then a couple weeks later Faun dies. Death put things into perspective, and at the end of the day Elya knows she was right (even if she’s still hurt by the untrustworthiness of it all). Becoming a member of the military sworn to protect against people like Faun also taunt her different things and introduced to her the true up-and-close danger people like Faun face.

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Well, no one died, but it did happen with Jorildyn and her parents.

That won’t matter anymore since things are changing.

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I don’t tend towards this sort of thing., not that I won’t use it, but its not a part of my family background.


I feel like parents only do this for two reasons. Either one, they think they’re sparing their child from pain or at least worst pain. And/or two, they’re cowards and its for more selfish reasons than for the child. It’s an ugly world out there and there is only so much you can do to protect your child. In my personal opinion, from real life experience, it’s better to educate the child and make sure they’re equipped with the knowledge they need for when the inevitably face this “ugly” world, versus trying to keep them isolated, brainwashed and then when they discover the truth on their own, their whole world view/trust breaks.

It’s one thing when maybe a child is too young to fully understand something but at some point, you have to be the “adult”, grow some balls, trust in your own skill as a parent and tell the child the truth. The truth might suck but it’s better than feeling like the sucker when you discover the lie. Sometimes the lie does less to protect you than the truth.


coughs Maybe a few. I’m guessing we’re counting lies of omission as lying in this situation?


I’ve seen that, too. Also watched a bunch of videos about people who were adopted as children. In my story, Pinti’s told she was a found child the moment she’s old enough to understand words. It’s told to her like a bedtime story. But her father didn’t tell her the whole story.

Does Freyja ever catch on? Or wonder?

That’s interesting. So, she learns about the truth and decides to the join the military? Does she still feel any type of way toward Faun? Faun was the parental figure. Is Elya really able to cut off all emotions toward Faun?

Tell that to Yon, Pinti’s father. He’s definitely a coward, but he ends up telling the truth…and then goes a step further to being completely honest which he really shouldn’t have. It then leads to a misunderstanding that leads to a fight. So, now Pinti has to live with knowing that her father lied about something important and also knowing what her father really thinks of her.

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She doesn’t join on her own terms, to be fair. After they’re imprisoned, Faun is executed, but Elya is sentenced to joining the military–destined to be part of the fifth sect. She doesn’t join right away, due to both her age and lack of training.

After she joins the military, which is also heavily influenced by their religion, she’s indoctrinated into many of their beliefs but still is conflicted due to the relationship she shared with Faun.

Not at all, Faun is actually the driving force behind most of her underhanded intentions. She may have been forced to join the military, and to an extent has adapted their way of thinking, but she would never forget her or not love her due to that indoctrination. Elya would betray anyone she had to in order to see that Faun gets her vengeance, which is essentially her character motivation.

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Dov gave Freyja a hint during their first meeting,* and there will be more hints later in the story, but Freyja is too trusting or naïve to be suspicious. I also crafted an experimental chapter (for a university project) where Freyja is told by Dr Lander (her creator) that she is a clone. Out of either shock, bewilderment, a desire not to distance herself from Dov and Krista (or just bad authorship), Freyja dismissed Lander’s title within seconds in favour of Dov’s descriptions of her…a unique gift…

*Extract from Dov and Freyja's first meeting, a Tel Aviv beach walk at night

Dov clutched the bedsheet-cocooned Freyja against his chest as they descended the promenade’s steps with a smiling Krista tiptoeing down an imagined tightrope beside them. Dov gave a grateful sigh as his hiking boots crunched onto the soft dark sand, then he glanced along the beach. ‘Judging by the surf, there is going to be a king tide tonight. Maybe that is why the beach restaurants are empty.’

‘We are lucky,’ Krista said as her balancing act entered a circuit around Dov. ‘Freyja can play and explore without distractions.’

‘King tide?’ Freyja twisted towards the low rolling waves. ‘Royals…in ocean?’

Krista laughed. ‘If you believe the Greek myths, or the Disney movies.’

‘A king tide is higher than a normal tide,’ Dov said. ‘Most nights we would find less water here, and more sand and people.’

‘A mistake?’ Freyja asked. ‘I sorry.’

‘Mistakes are normal,’ Dov said as Krista patted Freyja’s shoulder on her second lap. ‘They are how you learn, if you remember the lessons.’

Freyja glanced up at Dov. ‘I remember car. Dov, Krista, Polanski. No remember…before car…Is normal?’

Krista stumbled and crashed against Dov’s side. ‘Uh…Well…’

Dov sighed. ‘Freyja, you are different from everyone in the world. This is why you cannot remember, why you have no memories, before Polanski’s car. But this can be good for you. Many people have memories they do not want.’

‘Not only the adults,’ Krista whispered.

Freyja slouched against Dov’s chest. ‘Memories hurt Dov? Hurt Krista?’

‘Some cause pain and some haunt,’ Dov said.

Freyja flinched. ‘Memories…hurt Freyja?’

‘Maybe, one day,’ Dov said as Krista crept into view. ‘But maybe we can protect you from memories that have no benefit, only cause pain and sadness. Or at least reduce their effect.’

Freyja gazed up at Dov. ‘How?’

‘Krista and I create many good experiences for you, some with important lessons,’ Dov replied. ‘Tonight’s first lesson you should remember when you are hurt, sad or confused.’

‘What lesson?’ Freyja asked.

‘It’s simple.’ Dov gave her a brief squeeze. ‘You are never alone.’

Freyja’s olive features twitched with a smile. ‘Dov, friend.’

Krista coughed. ‘Forgetting someone?’

‘I remember,’ Freyja said as she turned to the blonde girl. ‘Krista, friend. Like Dov.’

Oh, Krista is a teenage girl, Polanski’s daughter, Freyja’s new roommate, and Dov’s new aide tasked with helping Dov to teach Freyja how to live / act as a fourteen-year-old Israeli.

There are also going to be times where Dov and Krista avoid the ever-curious Freyja’s questions either because the answers serve no benefit, such as why Dov and Krista sometimes have nightmares (lingering PTSD); or because no one knows the answer, such as if Freyja is fertile. A downside to Freyja’s lack of memories (and of Freyja being a hybrid clone) is no knowledge of how her body works, or if she can be assessed by the normal standards for working / not working.

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That’s such a sweet scene :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: Makes me want to cheer their little group on. At least Freyja has good support around her.

What inspired you to write a story with a character like Freyja?

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The story began as a final assessment piece for a YA subject in a Creative Writing degree. I decided to commence a realistic contemporary YA fiction with one si-fi element (Freyja) set in 2016, when I began studying the degree.

The character Freyja, and the story’s plot points, are mostly inspired by the characters Henrietta and Triela from Gunslinger Girl,* and Naomi from Armitage III. Krista’s outward / false personality is a derived from a mix of Naomi, from Armitage III and Asuka from Neon Genesis Evangelion. Krista’s hidden / real personality is more like Karen from Exodus (1960s Paul Newman film).

*Krista’s Amati violin, tailored clothes, and the children’s fondness for symphony orchestras, are pinched from Gunslinger Girl. And Krista’s giant Steiff teddy bear is borrowed from Brideshead Revisited (UK).

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Some things are common sense. Even in other relationships, there should be some tact involved. Not sure what exactly is going on with Pinti and her father but assuming he has some kind of negative feelings towards her, I think most of the time, children can sense that even if the parent doesn’t explicitly say it. Like if a parent has a “favorite” amongst the siblings or doesn’t really “like” their child as a person. Ideally a parent should love their child unconditionally but that doesn’t seem to be what always happens.

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I ended up changing the relationship between Pinti and her father. He has some thoughts, but he’s adult enough to not voice them out loud. He also does love Pinti very much.

Them having a bad relationship really didn’t make sense to what I had for their backstory. And they also had some miscommunications. That’s all cleared up now.