No, sometimes, depends, yes…When my children were very young, many things were black and white. One of my “jobs” as a parent was to teach them right from wrong and set their moral compass. And I feel for the most part this happens very early on. Even if we are not told verbally, we soak up so many unwritten dos and don’ts and not lying is definitely one of them.
I remember one incident when my kids were two and three; in the days when they used to bath together there was a big splashing incident. It was the end of a long day so I was tired, they were having fun, which meant half the bath water was on the bathroom floor. I warned them several times and then I roared, “Who did this? If you don’t tell me, there will be no story tonight.” My punishments were hardcore in those days!
My kids were silent and after a few seconds my son (two at the time) stood up and confessed. He then went onto say that he didn’t deserve a story but his older sister did. I was surprised. I had actually suspected my daughter or thought they were in cahoots.
Anyway, I told him off, put him to bed without a story. I later asked his sister if it had been her brother. She said yes, without hesitation. But it wasn’t. It took her two days to fess up. This was an inconsequential event but my instincts were right, she had lied and he had taken the rap for her.
I do think as people we have a predisposition to try to get ourselves out of things – keep quiet, make excuses, fabricate stories and omit important bits of information. Is this different or just an extension of lying?
As children get older, the black and whites blend to different shades of grey. It is no long valid, in my opinion to say, “don’t ever lie”. They have to learn to use their judgment. My hope is they are discerning, and whilst they may lie to extricate themselves from certain tricky situations, I hope they wouldn’t lie to me. But I am not that naive. Luckily for me, they have a “tell” and when I ask a question in a certain way, I know if they are telling the truth or not…most of the time.
I am a great believer in lying being a useful tool in selective situations and in lying for the greater good. Number one on my list is sparing worry. I am thinking particularly of my mother here. Since my father passed away my mother’s worry has increased exponentially, so sometimes it is just easier to lie.
For instance, last year I had an operation so I told her I was going out for the day, which technically isn’t a lie, but you see what I’m getting at.
My real bugbear? Getting caught. As I am always saying to my children, if you are going to lie, lie effectively. Live the lie…
One thing I haven’t laid out but I hope is implicit is I do not condone lying about really important things. Legal or criminal issues or instances when you could cause people real harm.
So what do you think? I think everyone lies…and if you say you don’t, you’re lying 😉