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Lying to children

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Lying to children

Post by chewybrian » March 10th, 2019, 7:17 am

There is no question this practice is widespread. We tell fables, withhold unpleasant truths, and tell outright lies for many different reasons.

How do we justify these lies? Don't we owe them the truth, so they can make an accurate assessment of their situation and their options, and learn as much as possible? How could we expect them to become the best they can be if everything begins with lies? How can we expect them to honor and respect the truth when they grow up if they realize that people have routinely lied to them? When we feel justified in these lies, aren't we giving them the message that the end justifies the means? Shouldn't the default position be to tell them the straight truth, right down the line? If so, then strong justifications must be needed to make lying to them the ethical choice in certain situations.

So, please explain why lying to children might be correct and when it is correct (if it ever is).

Since definitions always seem to be necessary here, let's define lying as any intentional misrepresentation, in whole or in part, including but not limited to fables, euphemistic stories, partial truths, withholding essential information with the intention of leading them to false conclusions, or any outright lies, no matter their intended effects. We could exclude fiction if it is clear to the child that it is fiction.

So, for the purpose of this discussion, my assertion is that anything but full disclosure of the truth to children is a lie, and immoral, and I am asking you to prove or assert otherwise if you think this is not so. What justification do you or others have which makes this ethical behavior?
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Re: Lying to children

Post by Scott » March 10th, 2019, 9:36 am

Why does it matter if the person lied to is a child? Why does your argument and assertion use the word "children" instead of the word people?

Would you believe your own arguments and assertions less, more, or the same if you were to replace the word "children" with "people"?
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Re: Lying to children

Post by chewybrian » March 10th, 2019, 10:41 am

Scott,

We seem to have a very different set of rules for children and adults. For example, we somehow feel justified in telling the child there is no more candy when in fact we have more. We don't want the child to have the candy, and we don't want to have the argument about why they should not have it, or listen to them complain. We let ourselves off the hook and justify the lie, which we probably would not do with an adult. We don't feel the same way about telling our friends we are out of potato chips when we have more (even if it would be for their own good not to have more). If we lie to adults, we usually know we are doing something wrong, but when we talk to children, we seem to think the lie is 'for their own good'. We often think we are protecting children by withholding the truth from them, when we would seldom do the same with adults.

I am curious what the cumulative effect is of the lies, and if they are really justified, or doing more harm than good. I feel like the best thing that could have happened to me when I was younger would have been to have a trusted adult in my life who would have always given me the straight answer, even when the answer was unpleasant. I never had that luxury. Postponing the discovery of unpleasant truth sets false hopes that can never be realized, and leads to anger, disappointment, and confusion down the line. We may somehow think we are protecting their childhood from the harsh realities of adult life, but I suspect there are unintended consequences, and we may instead be making adult life more difficult.

The lies told to children and to adults fall into two different categories. We lie for different reasons, justify the lies differently, feel more or less guilty (or pleased with ourselves) about the lies, depending on the age of the person to whom we are lying. We could have a different conversation about why we lie to adults, and when, if ever, that is justified.
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Re: Lying to children

Post by jonathan » March 10th, 2019, 2:12 pm

This is an interesting question, and one that I’ve wrestled with myself. I have accused my wife of doing it and then turned right around and done it myself.

I think the only time that this is permissible is when the truth is too complicated for the child to understand, or going into lengthy detail would soften or distract from the actual point. For example if you have told him not to stick his finger in an electrical socket, and he asks “why, why, why,” and you find yourself in a discussion about closed and open circuits, flows of electrons... I think in this case, especially if it has something to do with the child’s safety, it’s acceptable to misrepresent the facts. I don’t think it’s justifiable to fabricate, e.g., “don’t touch that because there are demons in there that will get you.” But there are many circumstances where it’s necessary to simplify to pacify, or dismiss because too complicated, and I think those are justified, although not ideal.

There are also situations when certain claims that are in fact arbitrary are treated as absolute and law-like, for example, “It’s time to go.” Clearly that’s something that I’ve just made up, to a greater or lesser extent depending on the circumstances. But we make up things like this for ourselves all the time, every day — I get overwhelmed at work and decide “it’s time for a break”: it’s more than my personal impulse to stop work, it’s an injunction rationalized by a psychological assessment I’ve performed on myself. Sometimes we fully treat these injunctions as though they were external or binding, especially when it’s something our higher judgment tells us as against our lower impulses, or when it comes to social obligations. The way these statements are used around children is somewhat disingenuous. But I’d be hesitant to say that they are necessarily “lies,” and either way, probably not “wrong.”

Pragmatic lies I don't think are justified. On one hand, it's probably better for everybody emotionally if an argumentative blow-up can be avoided. But on the other, although there may be an emotional cost in the moment, it may be better in the long run. It does seem to be an “easy out” at the expense of moral integrity, and could hurt trust, or worse, develop into a habit that carries through to when the children are older, doing some real damage. Theoretically I think it’s wrong, and I try to avoid telling pragmatic lies as much as possible, but I still end up doing it, especially as fatigue or laziness gets the better of me.

Then there’s statements like “you can achieve anything if you work hard enough” or that Brian Tracy quote, “there are no limits to what you can achieve with your life, except the limits you accept in your mind” — which common sense and experience tells us is simply not true, but I hear thrown around all the time, especially in education. I think these are the worst because of their great potential to do damage. This kind of philosophy increases the suffering of hard times and fails to provide for how to deal with it.

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Re: Lying to children

Post by Plaffelvohfen » March 10th, 2019, 2:53 pm

The only point of view from where "lying" to children might be justifiable in my opinion is in relation to the "maturity" of the mind of the child, each mind maturing at different rates, it's hard to generalize... I think that "truths" should be proposed, in a certain order (I don't pretend to know the ideal one mind you), because the psyche and the mind is constructed, layer by layer, and placing a layer before another might impact the resiliency and stability of the future mature construct... When a child's mind enters the fundamental existential "Why" phase, how do you go about it? Honestly answering "I don't know" might not be enough... "Why don't you know"? Because I can't.. "Why can't you"? Because I can only ever "think" I know... But "why"? etc... The young mind doesn't grasp certain required concepts necessary to answer some question it might have, often a young mind gets ahead of itself so to speak and being actually honest might be a hindrance to the mind's development...

At some point in a mind development, fables and stories are just ways of introducing the foundations of certain concepts in the fabric of young minds where they'll solidify or be sharpened over time...Then truths like "I don't know" might be more "palatable" later.

One can also ask, are beliefs "lies"?

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Re: Lying to children

Post by Alias » March 10th, 2019, 3:18 pm

Let me start by saying that no social organization would last a week without some lying. I include marriages and families.
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10 ... 7101600321

There are different standards for different kinds of lies and different categories of lie-recipient.
"Children" is far too broad a category to fall under a single set of rules. They come in a range of age, intelligence, circumstance and sensibility.

The four main reasons we lie to children are:
- to ease them into their designated social role as adults -
that is, impart the rules and mores they'll be expected to adopt, in a way that's more palatable and easy to assimilate than command and rote: that's what the fables and aversion anecdotes and deferred reward mechanisms, such as Santa Claus, are meant to do.
- to keep from them sensitive information: the younger ones tend to blurt out anything they've heard
- to hide our own failures, fears and weakness, because we need our children's respect and they need to feel secure in our care
- to protect them from emotional trauma and the harshness of a world until they're strong enough to protect themselves

There are lots of minor, trivial reasons - convenience, time-saving, face-saving, the reasonable assessment of their current need for information and their ability to comprehend the subject. My personal favourite: no desire to watch their eyes glaze over as I fully disclose the wherefores of something they don't really give a flying fig about but just asked an idle question as a sop to the grandparental ego.

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Re: Lying to children

Post by chewybrian » March 11th, 2019, 5:44 am

jonathan wrote:
March 10th, 2019, 2:12 pm
Then there’s statements like “you can achieve anything if you work hard enough” or that Brian Tracy quote, “there are no limits to what you can achieve with your life, except the limits you accept in your mind” — which common sense and experience tells us is simply not true, but I hear thrown around all the time, especially in education. I think these are the worst because of their great potential to do damage. This kind of philosophy increases the suffering of hard times and fails to provide for how to deal with it.
This is a big one. Statements like 'age is just a number' amount to lies. If you want to minimize suffering, you must both accept responsibility for what you can change, and admit and accept that many things are beyond your influence. If we teach kids that they can not control what they can, or vice versa, we are setting them up for trouble.
Plaffelvohfen wrote:
March 10th, 2019, 2:53 pm
One can also ask, are beliefs "lies"?
This would depend on the sincerity of the beliefs. My beliefs may be harmful, and I might pass on misinformation to my kids if I am wrong. Yet, if the beliefs are genuine, then I lack the intent necessary to be lying. But, I suspect few people reach 100% belief. So, they may be passing on 'truths' that they only suspect or hope are actually true. They probably have good intentions when they tell their kids these things are true. But, if they have doubts and don't express their doubts at the same time, that should be counted as a lie.
Alias wrote:
March 10th, 2019, 3:18 pm
Let me start by saying that no social organization other than a philosophy forum would last a week without some lying. I include marriages and families.
I fixed that oversight for you. :wink: I want to give examples of universities, hospitals, churches, and other organizations which in theory should be immune from the need to lie, and committed to telling the truth. Yet, I think you have a point.
Alias wrote:
March 10th, 2019, 3:18 pm
- to keep from them sensitive information: the younger ones tend to blurt out anything they've heard
That is a great example of a reasonable exception. Say a young one discovers grandma's underwear which 'protects her from embarrassing leaks'. It might be smart to make up a story, rather than relating the truth, only to have junior blurt out 'my grandma wears diapers' in some public setting. Grandma's right to privacy seems superior to junior's right to learn the truth of that particular situation, at least at that early stage.
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Re: Lying to children

Post by Alias » March 11th, 2019, 10:07 am

One related set of problems:
Who said Junior had any rights?
If he does, those rights were conferred onto him, and enforced, by someone with more power than he has.
Why and how would those theoretical rights include the right to information?
Does anyone have a right to information?
Can/should anyone have a right to personal, private information about any other person?
I want to give examples of universities, hospitals, churches, and other organizations which in theory should be immune from the need to lie
Institutions don't lie - or talk at all - people do. Institutions are made up of people with diverse knowledge, access, belief, perception, empathy, expectation, judgment and values. You will not find an example of a church in which every member of clergy and congregation has the same understanding of even one single topic, not even their shared creed, not even the object of their shared worship. So, how can you possibly judge the degree of veracity of any statement made by any of those people?

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Re: Lying to children

Post by Scott » March 11th, 2019, 10:58 am

chewybrian wrote:
March 10th, 2019, 10:41 am
Scott,

We seem to have a very different set of rules for children and adults. For example, we somehow feel justified in telling the child there is no more candy when in fact we have more. We don't want the child to have the candy, and we don't want to have the argument about why they should not have it, or listen to them complain. We let ourselves off the hook and justify the lie, which we probably would not do with an adult. We don't feel the same way about telling our friends we are out of potato chips when we have more (even if it would be for their own good not to have more). If we lie to adults, we usually know we are doing something wrong, but when we talk to children, we seem to think the lie is 'for their own good'. We often think we are protecting children by withholding the truth from them, when we would seldom do the same with adults.

I am curious what the cumulative effect is of the lies, and if they are really justified, or doing more harm than good. I feel like the best thing that could have happened to me when I was younger would have been to have a trusted adult in my life who would have always given me the straight answer, even when the answer was unpleasant. I never had that luxury. Postponing the discovery of unpleasant truth sets false hopes that can never be realized, and leads to anger, disappointment, and confusion down the line. We may somehow think we are protecting their childhood from the harsh realities of adult life, but I suspect there are unintended consequences, and we may instead be making adult life more difficult.

The lies told to children and to adults fall into two different categories. We lie for different reasons, justify the lies differently, feel more or less guilty (or pleased with ourselves) about the lies, depending on the age of the person to whom we are lying. We could have a different conversation about why we lie to adults, and when, if ever, that is justified.
Thank you very much for your response. You make many interesting and thoughtful points.

I'm not sure you answered my question: "Would you believe your own arguments and assertions [about lying to children] less, more, or the same if you were to replace the word "children" with "people"?"

For example, in the OP you write, "my assertion is that anything but full disclosure of the truth to children is a lie, and immoral". Would you believe that statement more, less, or the same if you replaced the word 'children' with 'people'?


chewybrian wrote:
March 10th, 2019, 10:41 am
The lies told to children and to adults fall into two different categories. We lie for different reasons, justify the lies differently
What do you think are (a1) some of the most notable reasons we lie to children and (a2) the most common justifications for those lies?

What do you think are (b1) some of the most notable reasons we lie to adults and (b2) the most common justifications for those lies?

What do you think are the most notable differences between a1/a2 and b1/b2?
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Re: Lying to children

Post by ktz » March 11th, 2019, 4:20 pm

There's probably a fair amount of instances where deliberate falsehoods do serious harm to children, there's no doubt about that. But given my affinity for pragmatic ideas about truth, it's fairly intuitive to me that there are important instances where truth and knowledge can do real harm, or where an effective lie can create positive value. Not all knowledge is good knowledge -- I can cite trivial examples like the knowledge to build a nuclear weapon, or the intensity of the short-term pleasure of hard drugs, or the story of the detective policeman who killed himself after concluding an investigation of a serial killer. And perhaps the most popular modern lie told to children, the story of Santa Claus -- well, this lie induces parents everywhere to provide their kids with a single instance of capitalistic joy, and while I suppose it is up for debate whether or not this is necessarily a good thing in the long term, there's no doubt that some good has come out of that lie somewhere before.

I think an important points I want to make is in the defense of stories and fables. I think it makes as much sense to get upset about those lies as it would to get upset about the fictional setup for an educational math problem. The kernel of truth hidden within these fables -- the tortoise and the hare, and the crow and the pitcher still live in my mind from my childhood -- is generally more important than the lies, not to mention the importance to help a child develop their imagination. Every technological development is a falsehood until it is invented, after all. And the concept of hope as well -- every hope we have is technically a lie, unless the moment it becomes true comes to pass. I will reiterate my sort of unpopular viewpoint that it is not the truth that matters, but how the truth or lie affects what we do and how we act in the long term.
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Re: Lying to children

Post by Bahman » March 11th, 2019, 4:33 pm

Lying is not essentially wrong. It is evil.

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Re: Lying to children

Post by jonathan » March 11th, 2019, 6:11 pm

ktz wrote:
March 11th, 2019, 4:20 pm
There's probably a fair amount of instances where deliberate falsehoods do serious harm to children, there's no doubt about that. But given my affinity for pragmatic ideas about truth, it's fairly intuitive to me that there are important instances where truth and knowledge can do real harm, or where an effective lie can create positive value. Not all knowledge is good knowledge -- I can cite trivial examples like the knowledge to build a nuclear weapon, or the intensity of the short-term pleasure of hard drugs, or the story of the detective policeman who killed himself after concluding an investigation of a serial killer. And perhaps the most popular modern lie told to children, the story of Santa Claus -- well, this lie induces parents everywhere to provide their kids with a single instance of capitalistic joy, and while I suppose it is up for debate whether or not this is necessarily a good thing in the long term, there's no doubt that some good has come out of that lie somewhere before.

I think an important points I want to make is in the defense of stories and fables. I think it makes as much sense to get upset about those lies as it would to get upset about the fictional setup for an educational math problem. The kernel of truth hidden within these fables -- the tortoise and the hare, and the crow and the pitcher still live in my mind from my childhood -- is generally more important than the lies, not to mention the importance to help a child develop their imagination. Every technological development is a falsehood until it is invented, after all. And the concept of hope as well -- every hope we have is technically a lie, unless the moment it becomes true comes to pass. I will reiterate my sort of unpopular viewpoint that it is not the truth that matters, but how the truth or lie affects what we do and how we act in the long term.
These are both excellent points. It is true that knowledge/"truth" is not always an unqualified good, as in how to build bombs or do drugs -- I would add, detailing the sufferings of a loved one for instance. There's no positive value there, it's not necessary.

I also agree about stories and fables. The OP mentions fiction being excluded from the definition of a "lie," as long as it's clear to the child that it's fiction. But that raises the question what use then to make of fiction, and exactly how it should be presented. Certainly stories, fairy tales, and fables are fiction, yet there is more "truth" in them than many things that are literally true. There's more truth in a Grimm's fairy tale than in a description of some gunk I found under my fingernail, although the latter is literally true and the former is not. It would be detrimental to the children and disparaging of the stories (and, really, untrue...) if they had to be appended with, "but that's just a made up story, that's just fiction" full stop. This reminds me of Ursula K. Leguin's introduction to Left Hand of Darkness:
Fiction writers, at least in their braver moments, do desire the truth: to know it, speak it, serve it. But they go about it in a peculiar and devious way, which consists in inventing person, places, and events which never did and never will exist or occur...and then when they are done writing down this pack of lies, they say, There! That's the truth!

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Re: Lying to children

Post by chewybrian » March 11th, 2019, 6:52 pm

Scott wrote:
March 11th, 2019, 10:58 am
Thank you very much for your response. You make many interesting and thoughtful points.

I'm not sure you answered my question: "Would you believe your own arguments and assertions [about lying to children] less, more, or the same if you were to replace the word "children" with "people"?"

For example, in the OP you write, "my assertion is that anything but full disclosure of the truth to children is a lie, and immoral". Would you believe that statement more, less, or the same if you replaced the word 'children' with 'people'?
Your question is difficult for the reason that a different set of rules would apply to each group. I would assert it is more important to be truthful with children than adults, since adults have the resources to find the truth for themselves. The adult should be able to see the fable for what it is, as well as sarcasm or joking lies. They *should* be able to research the facts before accepting half truths or taking the bait when they get partial information intended to lead them to a false conclusion.
Scott wrote:
March 11th, 2019, 10:58 am
chewybrian wrote:
March 10th, 2019, 10:41 am
The lies told to children and to adults fall into two different categories. We lie for different reasons, justify the lies differently
What do you think are (a1) some of the most notable reasons we lie to children and (a2) the most common justifications for those lies?

What do you think are (b1) some of the most notable reasons we lie to adults and (b2) the most common justifications for those lies?
a1--We lie to children primarily to protect them. We may wish to extend their care-free time of play and wonder, for their benefit or because we don't want to see them grow up. We think some information is beyond their ability to process properly, or to use in making sound judgments. We probably don't want to give them the full story about drugs or terrorism too early on, for example. We might also tell them fables to help them learn important lessons in ways that hold their attention better and help them remember better than straight facts. Further, we tell them many lies of convenience, to save ourselves headaches or to limit their options until they are ready to handle more.

a2--The justifications are that we are acting in the child's best interests. We want to extend their childhood because we think, perhaps incorrectly, that it is the best time of their lives and the net effect of extending it is in their favor. We want to protect them from the trauma of ugly truth that might be too much for them to handle. You might tell an adult that a family member is working as a prostitute to support her drug habit, but probably would not relate this truth to a child. We justify the fables as a method to impart moral truths in a way that the child will both understand and remember. If this is true, then perhaps the trade-off of encouraging them to learn a life lesson is worth the lie. We justify the lies of convenience on the simple basis that it is just easier than having to defend the truth from our child's desires. If they don't know all the options, then they can't lobby for the all the ones we don't want them to take over what we feel is best for them.

b1--We lie to adults primarily by putting our own interests ahead of theirs. We might lie as a joke, or as sarcasm, and expect them to eventually get it, recover, and even appreciate our wit, such as it is. There the good, or neutral, intentions end and the real lies begin. We lie for political or business purposes. We distort the truth or offer partial truth intended to get people to draw false conclusions. We might even convince ourselves that lying is ethical, as in the case of a lawyer trying to get his guilty client to go free. And, we lie to get things we don't deserve by deception, because we don't value our own virtue, clear conscience and good name above some thing or event we want, like a job, a date, or whatever else we might desire.

b2--We justify the joke lie or sarcasm because the humor value might outweigh the temporary damage to the 'victim', and because we fully expect them to eventually 'get it', and hopefully even get a laugh out of it. We justify the political or business lies by placing the end above the means. We might spout some nonsense like "all is fair in love and war" or "buyer beware" to gloss over our misdeeds, when a fair assessment might leave us ashamed of the same act in a different circumstance. When we flat out go after what we want at someone else's expense, we are probably lying to ourselves as well at that moment. We might justify stealing to get money for drugs because we 'need' the drugs, and the victim can afford the loss. Maybe the big bad insurance company will end up paying for it, and that makes us feel alright somehow.
Scott wrote:
March 11th, 2019, 10:58 am
What do you think are the most notable differences between a1/a2 and b1/b2?
I think you can sum up the differences for the most part by examining our motives and the expected impact on the person we to whom we are lying. When we lie to children, we either think it is for their own good, or that we are saving ourselves a lot of trouble with a minor lie. When we lie to adults, we usually know we are doing wrong, yet we try to justify it to ourselves. In most cases, I suspect we could justify the lies to the children to a third party, and they might agree that we did good, or at least minimal harm. We would probably be ashamed and struggle to justify the lies we told to adults in most cases.

Despite our intentions, I still wonder about unintended consequences on the kids when we lie to them. Googling "lying to children" leads to some interesting but inconclusive info about the effects. It all left me with the impression that I might be on to something here, yet hard proof was lacking. I doubt sources like "Psychology Today" or Modern Parenting" are up to the standards of 'proof' for this crowd, anyway (as if anything could ever be proven in this place). My own experience has been that facing up to unpleasant truth is very liberating. Stoic philosophy is by far my favorite, and it reminds us to keep death and other such unpleasant realities before our eyes daily, not to depress ourselves, but to minimize the impact of bad things which can or will happen to us. Accepting these things makes them much less frightening than wishing or pretending that they did not exist, which only makes them hit you much harder when they do come your way. For this reason mainly I am apt to think we are doing more harm than good with our lies, even when our intentions might be good.
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Re: Lying to children

Post by LuckyR » March 12th, 2019, 2:23 am

We didn't lie to our daughter in raising her. True we didn't go to excruciating detail on adult topics, but a simplified "child's" version of the truth is not a lie. What good is telling a child an adult, detailed version of events that they can't understand?
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Re: Lying to children

Post by Scott » March 12th, 2019, 10:15 am

chewybrian wrote:
March 10th, 2019, 7:17 am
[Emphasis Added]
How do we justify these lies [to children]? Don't we owe them the truth, so they can make an accurate assessment of their situation and their options, and learn as much as possible? How could we expect them to become the best they can be if everything begins with lies? How can we expect them to honor and respect the truth when they grow up if they realize that people have routinely lied to them? When we feel justified in these lies, aren't we giving them the message that the end justifies the means? Shouldn't the default position be to tell them the straight truth, right down the line? If so, then strong justifications must be needed to make lying to them the ethical choice in certain situations.

So, please explain why lying to children might be correct and when it is correct (if it ever is).

Since definitions always seem to be necessary here, let's define lying as any intentional misrepresentation, in whole or in part, including but not limited to fables, euphemistic stories, partial truths, withholding essential information with the intention of leading them to false conclusions, or any outright lies, no matter their intended effects. We could exclude fiction if it is clear to the child that it is fiction.

So, for the purpose of this discussion, my assertion is that anything but full disclosure of the truth to children is a lie, and immoral, and I am asking you to prove or assert otherwise if you think this is not so. What justification do you or others have which makes this ethical behavior?
Scott wrote:
March 10th, 2019, 9:36 am
Why does it matter if the person lied to is a child? Why does your argument and assertion use the word "children" instead of the word people?

Would you believe your own arguments and assertions less, more, or the same if you were to replace the word "children" with "people"?
chewybrian wrote:
March 10th, 2019, 10:41 am
The lies told to children and to adults fall into two different categories. We lie for different reasons, justify the lies differently [...]
Scott wrote:
March 11th, 2019, 10:58 am
What do you think are (a1) some of the most notable reasons we lie to children and (a2) the most common justifications for those lies?
chewybrian wrote:
March 11th, 2019, 6:52 pm

a1--We lie to children primarily to protect them. We may wish to extend their care-free time of play and wonder, for their benefit or because we don't want to see them grow up. We think some information is beyond their ability to process properly, or to use in making sound judgments. We probably don't want to give them the full story about drugs or terrorism too early on, for example. We might also tell them fables to help them learn important lessons in ways that hold their attention better and help them remember better than straight facts. Further, we tell them many lies of convenience, to save ourselves headaches or to limit their options until they are ready to handle more.

a2--The justifications are that we are acting in the child's best interests. We want to extend their childhood because we think, perhaps incorrectly, that it is the best time of their lives and the net effect of extending it is in their favor. We want to protect them from the trauma of ugly truth that might be too much for them to handle. You might tell an adult that a family member is working as a prostitute to support her drug habit, but probably would not relate this truth to a child. We justify the fables as a method to impart moral truths in a way that the child will both understand and remember. If this is true, then perhaps the trade-off of encouraging them to learn a life lesson is worth the lie. We justify the lies of convenience on the simple basis that it is just easier than having to defend the truth from our child's desires. If they don't know all the options, then they can't lobby for the all the ones we don't want them to take over what we feel is best for them.
This is not at all to undermine or disregard all of the other things you said and all of the interesting and thoughtful points you have made. However, nonetheless, I believe in the two paragraphs immediately above you have answered your own question and provided the requested counter-argument to the assertion in the OP.
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