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Telling a white lie

We’ve all done it at least once last year. We’ve told a white lie in front of young children when mentioning Father Christmas. We did it for the right reason to protect their innocence and creative imagination. Children learn the truth when they're ready. Little white lies can be a convenient way to get around saying no. Experts agree that bending the truth isn't likely to harm your child. Or can white lies create harm?


Porky pies

A white lie is a harmless or trivial lie, especially one told to avoid hurting someone's feelings. Politicians are the masters of telling people that their lie is not giving false information. However, lying is a form of deception, but not all forms of deception are lies. A white lie has three features:

  • Communicates some information
  • Intends to deceive or mislead
  • Knows what they are saying is untrue

Why is lying wrong?

If no one could be trusted and nothing you heard or read could be trusted, you would have to find everything out for yourself. If we all lied, then society is hurt because:

  1. As the level of truthfulness falls, people may be encouraged to lie
  2. Lying may become a generally accepted practice
  3. Eventually no-one can believe anyone else

Protective family lies

Take the tooth fairy. Your children will discover the facts from school friends, so you’ll have to tell the truth when the questions start. It’s best to tell the truth and don’t underestimate your children’s sense around divorce, illness, redundancy or death. A University of California study found that when college students were asked to recount the most damaging lies they'd ever been told, many cited the ones meant to protect them from deaths in the family. If you want your children to be honest with you, then you must be honest with them. That’s the truth.

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Date: 25 February 2019 by Max Robinson