is lying ever morally permissible mod 4 discussion

In your reading, Kwasi Wiredu described how stories have been used as a scare tactic to keep children and the weak-minded in line. One example he uses is Akan parents telling their children not to sing while bathing; otherwise, their mother will die. (Wiredu says this is for the child’s well-being so that he or she did not accidently drink the dirty water and possibly get sick.)

Is it morally reasonable to mislead or lie to a child for his or her own well-being? Is this sort of parental behavior a necessary “tool” for guiding a child to do the right thing until he or she can figure out what is right or wrong on his or her own?

Many cultures use the idea of Santa Claus making a list of who is naughty/nice as a way to manage the behaviors of children (because those children on the “nice list” receive presents). Do you feel that this parental behavior is morally reasonable?



I have told very few lies in my lifetime. I’ve always told people please don’t ask me unless you want an honest answer, good or bad. I believe that maybe at times it can be necessary to protect one from harm or death but I believe honesty is the best policy. I’m not sure about the situation of the kids not singing in order not to get sick. I wonder if Akan’s parents explained the situation to the kids, they understand way more than we think they do. I think I would have been honest and explained what would happen if they swallowed the water. I do not believe lying to a child is a necessary tool in parenting. Issues can be dealt with in other ways such as explanation or changing the subject except in cases where harm or death can be the outcome however after the risk is over I would explain why I had to lie to them and make sure they understood the reason behind it. In the case of Santa Claus, this is done when the child is at a very young age and it is my belief that by the time the child knows Santa is not real, they don’t have a memory of their parents telling them they better be good or Santa is not coming.


Using the little white lie with your children to modify their behavior, I feel ok in some instances. The one about Santa Claus is one that I use, especially with my youngest. Or my newest one with her is if she does not brush her teeth twice a day, her teeth are going to be full of cavities, and the dentist will have to pull out all her teeth. I know it sounds terrible, but she brushes her teeth twice daily like a champ. I feel like this could affect her positively in the future, so I don’t feel bad. If the greater good outweighs the lie, I feel it is morally permissible. There are also times with adults in my life I have used some little white lies to save them from heartache or disappointment. I also feel if someone is not seriously hurt or the lie could alter someones life in a negative way I feel its ok.

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