True parenting confessions

Moms and dads get real with stories from the parenting trenches.
© MSN Healthy Living // © MSN Health
OK, moms and dads. If you’ve ever fibbed to your kids’ doctor, broken your strict no-junk-food policy, or felt jealous of your kid-free friends -- cast aside your guilt. You've got plenty of company.
Here’s a list of real-life parenting confessions and some expert advice about how to do the right thing, which rules are OK to bend, and which ones you should follow at all costs.
1 of 10 Parent with child (© Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images)

Little White Lies

Confession: “I’ve made up white lie to get out of hosting a play date because my child’s friend is a handful and a half.”
Words of wisdom: Even if you tell a white lie to the other child’s parent, be honest with your own child. "Tell your child the truth in a kind way. That way your child will understand and won’t think his buddy doesn’t like him or doesn’t want to play," says Robyn McKay, a psychologist at Arizona State University.
According to one study: The average parent tells a surprising number of white lies during their kids’ childhood. Another study suggests that some preschoolers (how young?) are able to tell white lies. Some experts say white lies are harmless, while others suggest they set a bad precedent.
Ask yourself: Could your kid’s friend have a behavior problem? Get informed about ADHD, autism, and other behavioral issues that make social interaction challenging for many children.
2 of 10 Two kids on a couch (© Donald Iain Smith/Getty Images)

TV as Babysitter

Confession: “I use the TV as a baby sitter even though I vowed I never would.”
Words of wisdom: “Use DVDs instead of general TV to control content and cut down on how much advertising your child watches," suggests Eileen Kennedy-Moore, psychologist in Princeton, N.J. and author of Smart Parenting For Smart Kids: Nurturing Your Child's True Potential. "And have a clear ending of TV time (for instance the end of the DVD or the show), rather than just having it run constantly as background noise.”
According to one study: DVDs marketed for babies may actually hinder the development of some critical skills. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV for very young children (how young?) and a limited amount of TV time (how much?) for older kids.
Ask yourself: Are there some fun, simple, at-home activities that might engage your kids, giving you the time you need to break away and fold that load of laundry or whip up dinner?
3 of 10 Kid watching TV (© Cultura/Emma Kim/Getty Images)

'Borrowing' Money from Your Kid's Piggy Bank

Confession: “I used money from my kid’s piggy bank or savings account when I was short on cash.”
Words of wisdom: Only borrow what you can pay back. And pay your kid back as quickly as you’d reimburse a friend who loaned you a little cash.
According to one study: Parental piggy bank-pilfering is pretty common, at least in Australia. A significant percentage of parents, responding to a survey by this bank, said they dip into their kids’ savings for everything from groceries to a night out.
Ask yourself: Have you been lazy about setting up a savings plan? Here are some tips for getting started.
4 of 10 Broken pink piggy bank (© Stewart Waller/Getty Imagess)

Liar, Liar

Confession: “I looked my kid straight in the eye and lied.”
Words of wisdom: “Kids will pick up on lying behavior and begin to distrust what you tell them about food – and just about everything else – in the future," says Vicki Panaccione, psychologist and author of What Kids Would Tell You … If Only You’d Ask!
According to one study: When kids lie, they’re just copying their parents. The same researcher found most kids (what percentage?) do lie, even though they know it’s morally wrong. Kids lie for many reasons (can you guess some of main motivators?).
Ask yourself: Do you want your child to become a skilled liar? If not, perhaps it’s time to dig in and start being more honest with your children.
5 of 10 Parent and child talking (© Stewart Cohen /Getty Images)

Missing a Kid-Less Life

Confession: “I’ve wished (even for a nanosecond) that I was still single and kid-less."
Words of wisdom: “Most parents long for their single, kid-less days when their time was their own, especially when they’re stressed out or overwhelmed,” McKay says. Remind yourself of the little things you’re grateful for -- and hire a sitter or ask a friend to watch the kids so you can get the break that every parent needs every now and then.
Did you know? Parents in Denmark get some seriously generous parental leave benefits. In the U.S., most parents take a serious real financial hit when mom or dad stays home with a new baby, because federal law does not require employers to pay parents who take maternity or paternity leave.
Ask yourself: When’s the last time you went out on the town -- without your kids? Here are some date night ideas. What about a vacation? Check out these romantic getaway spots.
6 of 10 Parent driving kids (© Nicki Pardo/Getty Images)

Too Tired to Cook

Confession: “I go to the mall food court or a drive-thru for dinner because it’s easy and I’m exhausted.”
Words of wisdom: “Not all fast food is bad, and this can be a learning experience for your kids to understand what is good to eat and not," says Charlene Brock, a pediatrician at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia. "Pick a drive-thru where you can get salad, grilled chicken breast, etc. And don’t offer choices to order fries or super sizes.”
According to one study: Like most things, fast food might be fine in moderation. But a recent study has troubling findings about kids who have easy access to fast food near their schools. Read more about childhood obesity and about First Lady Michelle Obama’s campaign to fight it.
Ask yourself: When’s the last time you tried a new recipe for an easy make-ahead meal?
7 of 10 Drive-thru (© Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Leave Kids Napping in the Car

Confession: “I’ve left my kids sleeping in the car (in the garage) because I didn’t want to wake up from a nap.”
Words of wisdom: OK. First things first. Don’t ever leave a car running in a garage (find out how quickly carbon monoxide can kill). If your snoozing child really needs some rest, Brock suggests staying in the car, reading a book, balancing your checkbook or making a shopping list. Make sure you’re both comfortable -- not too hot, not too cold.
Did you know? There’s no nationwide law against leaving kids unattended in cars. Heat is one of the biggest dangers. In 2010, a record number of U.S. children (how many?) died after being left in hot cars.
Ask yourself:How much sleep does your child need? If her nap gets cut short, you can always hope she’ll be so tired at bed time, she’ll fall asleep in seconds.
8 of 10 Asleep in car (© Daniel Grizelj/Getty Images)

Unattended Bath Moments

Confession: “I’ve left my toddler alone in the bath -- just for a few seconds.”
Words of wisdom: This is an absolute no-no. If left unsupervised, young children can drown extremely quickly.
Did you know? One mom was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison after her child died in the bathtub. Find out what she was doing.
Ask yourself: What multi-tasking alternatives have you not considered yet? Why not bring a load of clothes into the bathroom so you can fold them while supervising your baby’s bath? Or set a portable timer for 5 minutes before you need to check on dinner. When the timer rings, buzzes or beeps, you know it’s time to pluck your baby from the tub, dry him off and then go check on your meal.
9 of 10 Toddler in bath (© MoMo Productions/Getty Images)