Honesty is a virtue that all parents value, especially when it comes to their children. We expect them to tell us the truth, to be forthcoming in all of their situations. We expect that they understand that honesty is the best choice.
The first time they tell us something that is not true, as a parent somehow we are surprised and we can begin to doubt our parenting. We start asking ourselves about who they are playing with that they would learn such a skill, or what have we done that makes them feel like they need to lie.
Then comes the big question – Am I a bad parent?
Take a deep breath.
- When a child chooses to not tell the truth – well it is not necessarily about you the parent. They may be lying because they see the situation or what they did differently than we do as parents. They may believe they did something today – because they have done it so many other days, that surely they did it today too. Remember kids idea of time is different than our own.
- This may be an attempt to cover up what happened, trying to save face. Children want to be seen as good in the eyes of the adults in their lives – especially their parents. They do not want to disappoint them. So a child who perceives themselves as disappointing their parents on a regular basis may think this may lessen the count of mistakes by one.
- Finally they may see telling this untruth as a problem solving tool. Undeveloped brains do not think things all the way through. Let be real, developed brains sometimes do not think things through.
Our job as a parent is to grow this virtue in ourselves and our children. Have conversations about the virtues that are important to you. If honesty is one of them, here are a few suggestions:
- Be a good role model. Talk about the use of honesty and how it can be difficult at times. Then be willing to give examples of your own honesty or lack and the results.
- When your child is honest about something that may have been difficult, praise the honesty. Say to them, “I really appreciate your honesty when you admitted hitting your sister. What do you think you can you do now to help you show more gentleness with your sister?”
- Be compassionate and stick to your virtues. We can be forgiving and at the same time emphasize that honesty is a core value of our home.
PARENTING IS HARD but with an emphasis on the important virtues in our home we can bring out the best in our children and ourselves.