As a child – reasonably well-behaved child, I might add – my parents would often lie, fib or manipulate the truth in an attempt to tame my sporadic, but memorable outbursts. Their “white lies” did not leave a lasting effect on me, nor were they used on a daily basis, but the result of their ability to deceive saw an improvement in my behavior.
The most memorable “white lie” my parents pulled from the depths of their imagination completely amazed my sister and I. Apparently, my Dad – not known for his carpentry skills – helped Father Christmas build and deliver toys to children on Christmas Eve, hence why my sister and I had to disappear to bed at a reasonable hour. This “white lie,” fun and harmless in nature, lasted for maybe two years before my sister and I caught my Dad – who’s skills were not required that year – beside the fire sipping on a glass of wine. Unsurprisingly, every Christmas since my Dad’s “part-time occupation” was unveiled; this story has been brought to our attention, mocking our childhood naivety.
I do not blame my parents for throwing me the bait of a “white lie” on the odd occasion; in fact I was probably too young to understand the truth. However, the debate continues as to whether they provide the bedrock to successful parenting or whether “white lies,” as Professor Gail Heyman suggests, hinders children’s development? I know which side of the lie I am on, but take a glance at Mark Barrowcliffe’s article in the UK Times Online
to gain a more rounded opinion.