The first time your child tells a lie, it is always a shock. How did this innocent little child decide telling you a lie was the best course of action? Are you in danger of raising a pathological liar? Probably not, but if you can avoid some common parenting mistakes, you are more likely to raise a child who is the truthful adult God requires.
So what are these common mistakes? These are the ones I notice parents making over and over.
- Not explaining thoroughly what God considers truth. Read the Bible for very long and it is abundantly clear God hates lies and lying. Satan is the original liar and encourages us to lie as well. Perhaps the biggest lie of all is the common definition of truth. Our society often accepts half-truths, partial truths, obscured truths, manipulated truths, exaggerations and more as “truth”. The shocking deaths of Ananias and Sapphira make it clear God wants the total, absolute truth. Anything less is a lie. Period. We need to make sure we teach our children about every possible variation of lying and that they are all disobeying God. Have them memorize important Bible verses about lying. They need those words firmly imprinted on their hearts.
- Not explaining the difference between opinion and truth. At some point in the last few decades, the idea of “personal truth” has become popular. Personal truth is what we used to call opinion. Society wants us to believe our opinion is truth; therefore, our opinion is valid for directing our lives. In reality, our opinion is just that, our opinion. We may be totally accurate or we may be totally off base. Most of the time our opinion is nothing more than an expression of our personal taste. Sharing our personal opinion unrequested is not “telling the truth”. It is sharing our opinion. There is absolutely no reason to go through life hurting people by sharing your opinion. If someone asks you your opinion, you absolutely should be honest, but there are kind ways to deliver “ugly” opinions. We need to teach our children that every thought that pops into their heads does not need to be shared. They also need to learn that when they are asked their opinion; it should be given as opinion and not necessarily the absolute truth. (Just because you hate a dress does not mean there aren’t five million other people who will love it.)
- Not impressing upon our children that God’s Truth is always the absolute truth. When God gives a command it is the truth. It is not open for debate, rationalization or change. Sharing God’s truths is not sharing our opinion. Obeying God’s truths is one way we can please God. Sharing God’s truths is one of the ways we point people towards God and the opportunity for grace and eternal life. Withholding these truths from the people we meet, may or may not be considered lying by God, but it is most certainly not reflecting God’s love or sharing our faith.
- Not modeling complete honesty for our children. Society’s definition of truth has become so ingrained in even Christian adults, we often don’t realize we are lying. Monitor yourself closely. Do you have a bad habit of telling partial truths? Do you withhold information on purpose, knowing the other person is believing a lie because they are believing that lack of information? Do you exaggerate your sales numbers when applying for a job? Do you tell people you aren’t home, when you are? Working on our personal integrity will give our children an important example to follow as they practice their own integrity.
- Excusing our children for their dishonesty. If I hear of one more parent who does their child’s homework for them, because the child was ____, I may scream. This is not only lying, but it also communicates to your child truth telling is merely a situational ethic. God does not care if we were too tired to tell the truth, just wanted to avoid the hassle it would cause or anything else. God expects the truth all of the time. If your children do not tell the truth, you need to consistently impose negative consequences. You most certainly do not need to be the one suggesting the lie.
So how are you doing? Are you taking the necessary steps to parent a truth teller? God values truth so much, we need to make it one of the primary goals of our parenting – to raise children to be honest Christians. What are you doing in your home to raise honest children? I would love for you to share what has worked for you with the rest of us in a comment below.