The Sue Atkins Wednesday Parenting Story: Integrity

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Posted by: Sue Atkins

Integrity: The triple filter test

Here’s your Wednesday story from my never ending notebook and everlasting pencil!

The Philosopher had just spent another hard day at the university asking lots of pertinent and challenging questions. On the way to his favourite cafe for dinner, he was greeted by an acquaintance. “Hi, do you know what I just heard about your friend Jean- Luc?”

“Just a moment,” said the Philosopher. “Before listening to this I’d like to ask you a few questions.”

“Huh?” said the acquaintance, who was eager to pass on this interesting piece of hot news.

“That’s right. Before you talk about my friend Jean-Luc, it might be a good idea to just pause and consider what you are about to say. I call it the triple distillation test. The first distillation is through the filter of truth. Have you made absolutely certain that what you are about to tell me is the truth?”

“Well… no, actually, you see I just heard about it, and thought, well, you know…. “

“All right,” said the Philosopher. “So you have no idea whether the information is true or not. So let’s try the second distillation through the filter of goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my friend something good?”

“No, not at all, in fact….”

“So,” interrupted the Philosopher, you wish to tell me something bad about my friend Jean-Luc, but you’re not at all sure that it’s true. However, you may still pass this test, because there’s one more distillation process remaining, the filter of usefulness. Is what you are about to tell me about my friend in any way useful to me?”

“Um. No. In fact, not in the slightest.”

“Fine,” said the Philosopher. “If what you want to tell me is not true, good or useful, why do you wish to tell me at all?”


  • So, what are the lessons for you as a parent in this story?
  • Is it about walking your talk influencing your kids by your example?
  • Is it about asking better more incisive questions to find out what lies beneath the surface?
  • Is it about being a better role model?
  • Is it about teaching your kids about loyalty, truth and friendship?
  • Is it about teaching them how to handle gossip, innuendo and rumour?
  • Is it about not being influenced by others unacceptable behaviour?

I’d love to hear your comments on all my blogs so take a few minutes to post a comment to let me know if you are enjoying these Wednesday stories and what you make of them!





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