Thursday, April 12, 2012

Is It Ever Okay To Lie?

LIE 
photo credit

I always tell my kids to be honest.  "Always tell the truth.  It's the best policy.  It's will set you free, kids!"  But then there are circumstances that present themselves when the lines between truth and lies, black and white, become blurred.

Case in point: When my oldest daughter was three years old and had recently learned the joys of peeing in a toilet, she loved to practice her new skill.  This meant that she had to pee in every restaurant, supermarket and store whose threshold we crossed.  And one day, while we were washing
our hands in the Sears bathroom at the local mall,    she stared at a woman's shoes.  "Do you like my shoes?" asked the woman.  "No", said my honest daughter.  "They are ugly. I don't like them at all."

I smiled generously as the woman turned and walked out of the room.  "Why did you say that to her?" I asked. 

"She asked!" said my daughter.

"You should have said something nice like, 'your shoes are pretty'."

"You mean you want me to LIIIIIEEEEEEEEE!"

She had a point.  I indeed DID want her to lie.  But a three year old isn't wise enough to comprehend the nuances of social grace.  We all say that lying is bad but we all spend a lot of time doing it.  Most of the time we lie to spare someone's feelings.  When asked, it's much easier to lie and give a compliment than be honest and hurt someone's feelings.  It's especially hard to teach children this skill.  It's important to teach them never to lie but then it feels dangerous to tell them that there are exceptions to that rule.  I get nervous that someday they might drive my car into a river and then lie about it and say, "I didn't tell you the truth because I didn't want to hurt your feelings.  You told me I could lie!"

People say they hate lying but go ahead, try and tell them the truth and you'll see what they really hate! It's like lying is a social expectation.   I would never go out of my way to lie but sometimes I feel like I have no choice. I abide by that age old wisdom, "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" but when put on the spot, I get squirmy.

 I believe in honesty and that truth is always the best policy but is there ever an acceptable time to break that policy?  When asked point blank, is it better to be honest even though the truth may hurt someone's feelings or is it better to lie?








19 comments:

  1. and then are you lying by omission?

    There's a line between truth and brutal truth. I'm often toeing that line. (so you know where I am) It is so hard to answer when someone asks what appears to be an honest question.

    I liken this to when someone asks you "how ya doin'?" even though it is really just a "hello."

    I'd like my kids to be able to honestly answer, but add something like "but I'm just a kid." I mean really, shouldn't your daughter have said "Mommy told me never to talk to strangers?" (maybe that's why our parents did that?)

    WG
    http://itsmynd.com

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  2. She also once announced, while we were in another stall at God only knows where, that the person in the stall next to us had "stinky poop." I think that is the explanation why people say that children should be seen and not heard (especially in bathrooms).

    I'm always honest with the "how ya doin?" question. If they ask, they better prepared to get an ear-full about my menstral cramps ;)

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  3. Not many people like an honest person. Trust me- I know. ;o)

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    1. I like you, Ash :) Especially when you tell me that you can airbrush the fat off of me in my photo shoot!

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  4. To save someone's feelings, it is better to tell a lie.

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    1. Christians have this thing called "speaking in love". It's meant as a means to speak the truth but do it without hurtful feelings. I've yet to master it. I'm hoping that there is a way that I can be honest while still not hurting anyone :/

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  5. That Birdie always makes me laugh. I don't know what to do because I have a brutally honest child too...surprise surprise

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    1. It will serve our girls well one day...I hope!

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  6. Honesty is always the best policy, I suppose....but I love what you said about "speaking in love." Your blog is SO cute! Thank you so much for stopping by and visiting "She Calls Me Mama Leisha." I appreciate your kindness and support. Just wanted you to know I'm returning the follow, via GFC. Have a wonderful rest of your week, Pretty Lady!!

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  7. Love your name too cause I go by "Licha" which I think is pretty much pronounced the same way as "Leisha"? Thanks for dropping by!!

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  8. A long time ago my really close friends learned not to ask me what I really think because I was going to them.
    Some times it is hard to weight the two and sometimes no matter what you do you are going to lose. It is a gamble either way. Do I tell her I can't support her going back to a man that beat her? Or do I just smile and help her move him back in?

    Do I tell her that dress is tacky? Or do I smile and say it is just your style?

    Do I tell him I saw his wife at lunch today smacking on a man that was not him? Or do I just ask how she is?

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    1. I think this issue causes us to do something we don't always like- to grow up. Most of us (the wise ones) would use tact and kindness with honesty. After that, it becomes a question of morals. Do we lie or do we tell the truth. I think I often use the excuse of not wanting to hurt someone's feelings as an excuse to be selfish. I simply don't want to deal with the consequences of telling the truth. The person might not understand, maybe they won't like me anymore. But someone not taking it the right way is not my problem- it's their problem and it faces them to be an adult too (not everyone is going to like our shoes and that's okay). I find it useful to focus on what I do like without lying. I may not like someone's shoes but I might also think that they have gorgeous ankles. "I think your ankles look terrific in those shoes!" It's the truth on all levels!

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  9. I don't feel it is right to hurt someone's feelings, but maybe the lady did not like her shoes either. Why did she ask? She wanted something confirmed. Mom always said if you cannot say something nice, don't say anything at all; I think we should lessen the pain of truth by adding something positive. No, I don't particularly care for those shoes, but your top is stunning on you. It really brings out your eye color. We should not burden 3 years old with such ideas though. She did right.

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    1. Okay, so I replied above before reading this and clearly we are on the same page! There is always something good to focus on.

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  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  11. 1. I don't believe that telling a lie is a sin if it doesn't hurt someone and if it isn't done maliciously. Most people will tell me it is a sin but why and mostly 'just because' might as well be their answers.

    Now kids should not tell lies. Perhaps they should be taught not to say things are ugly or to be hurtful. Rather say they are nice but not a style that I like. Or simply, a 'not for me' works quite well for most anything.

    2. My first answer is slightly tongue-in-cheek, but kids don't know that.
    Seriously though, I do believe that white lies are okay. Like Santa Claus because the kids like him and everyone believes in him.

    I am sorry about the link in my comment. I had no idea that it could cause trouble. So here is one without it.
    ..

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  12. You mean with the blue line? Haaaa! No worries :) Love the pics on your 2 questions. I have a thing for fences :)

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  13. Thanks for stopping by Trying To Be Super Mom! I love new followers and comments. Make sure you come back soon. If you haven’t yet, please be sure you “like” the new Facebook page and follow me on Twitter too! And yes you're right; America's Next Top Mommy and Trying To Be Super Mom would be a force to be recokoned with! LOL

    I followed your FB, Twitter, and GFC Pinterest.

    Stephanie
    Trying To Be Super Mom
    Blog: http://tobesuper.blogspot.com
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  14. This is something my husband and I have been debating for awhile. I want my kids to be honest and sometimes that will upset people. I think the commenter who said to add, "but I'm just a kid" is something we will start teaching.

    I found you through UBP 12.

    parentingwithresearch.blogspot.com

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Show some love, leave a comment. I do comment back by the way. Because I like to have the last word. :-)