With-holding truth

How many single parent families are there in your country? Perhaps the number depends how liberal and permissive your country is. In places where single parent families are commonplace, perhaps couples that experience breakdowns in their relationships are nonplussed about splitting up even if they have children. In countries where this is more of a social stigma, such couples would perhaps think twice about breaking up, choosing instead to stay unhappily married for their children. After all, it cannot be easy for the children. Children who grow up in single parent families experience many problems, such as each adult criticising the other in the other’s absence, being shuffled around to different surroundings because of adults having to work out access arrangements. It is also awkward having to spend time around twice as many adults if both parents have partners.

In Japan, a mother whose child had been in a single parent family (ie only with her) noted how much the emotional impact was taking on her. The father had left when the child was little and had made no form of contact ever since. The girl became more and more withdrawn as she got older and also suffered anxiety when she was in the company of her peers, not just because culturally single-parent families are frowned upon, but also because her peers knowingly and unknowingly made remarks that made her feel small. Eventually the mother took matters into her own hands in an unusual way. She approached an escort agency and hired an actor to play the part of a father for an extended period of time. Most actors are hired on a one-off basis, but this “father” continued the role to the point where the daughter actually believed that he is her father!

Is it ethical to tell such a white lie? You may debate this forever but there will always be two sides to this. In another case-study, one involving the classical musician Ludwig van Beethoven, it was believed that one of his famous works, Fur Elise, was written for a girl called Elise – yet Beethoven was also involved with another lady called Therese, who ended up with the score Fur Elise. (You can read more about this from the Piano Lessons N8 website.) One of Beethoven’s biographers blamed it on his dyslexia and bad handwriting, while you may point to it being a case of distorting the evidence to suit a belief.

Is it ever ethical to manipulate the truth? There’s a thought to ponder.