Sweet Little Lies

From The Daily Post:

As kids, we’re told, time and again, that lying is wrong. Do you believe that’s always true? In your book, are there any exceptions?

There are absolutely exceptions. When we’re dealing with kids we tend to make a blanket statement (“Lying is wrong!”) because kids haven’t gained the knowledge, experience, and empathy required to tell the difference between a bad like and the kind of lie that is required to keep a civil society running.

Now, obviously there are plenty of times when lying is the absolute worst thing you can do. Lying to your doctor about your symptoms could delay life-saving treatment. Lying to your lawyer about the details of an incident could land you in jail. Lying about those bruises on your face to the people who are only trying to help you could get you abused again – or even killed. And even when the cases aren’t quite so extreme, we have to drill it into our kids’ heads that lying is bad because there are so many instances when failing to tell the truth results in some highly unsatisfactory consequences.

But there are lots and lots of benign instances in which it’s much better for all involved to tell a little white lie. For instance, we’ve all had to deal with those horrible interviews – the ones in which the interviewer asks questions like, “Why do you want to work for this company?” and “What do you think your greatest weaknesses are?” If you were always perfectly honest with that first question you’d never get hired, because let’s face it, most of the jobs we interview for in our lives are ones we would rather set ourselves on fire than have to do, but admitting that you’re only in it to pay the rent isn’t going to endear the company to your application. As for that second question, well, answering that honestly would at best get you kicked out of the interview, and at worst wind up in a call to the police to remove you from the premises.

Then, of course, there are the times when the truth serves no good purpose and a lie would be more kind. If someone with a very poor self-image asks, “Do I look fat in this?”, you’re sure as hell not going to say yes, even if it’s true,  unless you want to be dealing with the emotional fallout for weeks to come.

Basically, as long as we’re not going to cause huge problems and bad consequences as a result, some lies are necessary to keep everyone civil and happy. The problem is trying to figure out how to teach the difference to our kids, because while you want them to tell the truth about who ate the entire box of cookies, you don’t really want them telling their mean teacher that they think she’s a horrible person who, by the way, is also super-ugly and no one likes her anyway.

What do you think? Is lying wrong, case closed, or are some lies a necessary part of life? Please share!

Also, a reminder that I am running a contest throughout the month of March. For each comment you post on my blog throughout the month, you will receive one entry toward a draw for a hard-copy of my zombie apocalypse novel, “Nowhere to Hide”! Please note that in order to accept the prize, I will need you to give me a mailing address where I can have the book sent. If the winner drawn did not intend to enter the contest and/or does not want the book, I will draw another name. Please also note that obvious spam/duplicate comments/etc. will not be counted toward an entry…play fair! And good luck!

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2 thoughts on “Sweet Little Lies

  1. Little white lies are necessary in order be civil. We lie to our kids – Santa, Easter bunny, Tooth Fairy, or through omission. But, I totally agree that until children learn the difference between lies and white lies and the appropriate time for them, a lie is a lie regardless. We are in the process of this with our little guy, now!

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