All beings tell little white lies. Little white lies are part of social graces, we teach our small beings to tell them as they grow up. We teach our three-year-old to say they like their friends picture, even if they don't. We teach our 11 year old to navigate social situations with a smile, even when they are angry. We teach our 16 year old to be polite to not tell their father if their mother lets them stay out past their curfew. Yes, little white lies are can be part of life.
Where is the line where a little white lie becomes a big problematic lie? It is a tricky line and one that I have never seen defined well...that exact spot where a little white lie becomes a problematic lie. If we don't know where that line is, how can we teach our small(er) beings where that line is? How can know when to give a consequence for lying (because it is something we want beings to be discouraged from doing) versus when to encourage them because a little white lie is part of living in this culture?
My suggestion: Lying is never okay, even little white lies. Teach all beings to mean what they say and say what them mean. Speak with kindness and gentleness and softness and truth. Teach your 3 year old to find a piece of their friends picture to highlight ("wow, that sun is super squiggly," when it is true, rather than "yes, I like your picture" when it is not true). Teach your 11 year old to move their anger and address it appropriately so that he/she does not have to just put on a fake smile. Teach your 16 year old about partnership and honesty by not keeping secrets from your partner and not asking him or her to keep secrets from a parent. It may be more challenging to navigate life meaning what you say and saying what you mean and the effort will certainly pay off!