Is Lying Ever a Kindness?
It Depends on the Lie You’re Telling, and Who You’re Telling it To
Most of us are taught from a young age to tell the truth. Yet we may be around people who don’t always model this truthful behavior. Some of the stories our parents tell us could even be considered lies — Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Our parents go to great lengths to show us they exist, then we find out when we’re older that they both shop at stores like Wal-Mart and other places to get their Easter baskets, Easter candy, and presents to put under the Christmas tree.
Oh not to mention, as we get older and learn how to read and write cursive, we start recognizing our parents’ handwriting on gift tags, unless they’re smart enough to disguise it, or have someone else write out the gift tags for them.
But those are harmless lies, stories made up to show children what a fun time of year Christmas and Easter can be.
Then there are the bigger lies people tell us….
These could be lies about another family member. Like your mom telling you your dad has gone away for a few days, when he’s in fact away in jail for a few days because he got in trouble for drinking and driving. I suppose parents are doing their kids a kindness by telling their kids lies like this. But what happens when the child gets older, and the parent is still making mistakes and being put away for even longer periods of time.
In case you’re wondering yes, this did happen to me. It was during my senior year of high school, a time when I should have been happy and looking forward to finishing high school and going away to college. My dad was only in jail for two months I think, but it was a busy two months for me — the last football season I would ever march in my high school’s marching band, and the best football season we ever had. Luckily he got out and did his house arrest, and was able to be present for most everything else I participated in during my senior year of high school. But it was right after that I found out my mother had breast cancer, and my life got turned upside down even more — you can find out more about that in this story I wrote in my publication, Lessons from my Life
So is lying ever a kindness? Sometimes it can be, I guess. Telling a friend she looks great when she looks awful can be a kindness if the friend has had a bad day. A mother telling a child a white lie about where their parent is can be a kindness if the parent changes their behavior down the road. I was lucky my dad did change his behavior after his time in jail — he’s been sober now for over 20 years and still attends and stays active in AA. To this day those lies still hurt, but I understand why he told them.