Want to hear something scary? A recent poll of 18-32 year olds revealed 80% of them felt it was perfectly fine to lie to get out of an awkward situation. Eighty percent of young adults think lying is perfectly acceptable!
I will admit lying will send me over the edge quicker than just about anything. I struggled with lying as a young child. That is until my parents decided to trot out every Bible verse about how much God absolutely detests lying. I am sure I have told an occasional lie since then, but I try to keep it to none. I am honestly still too frightened by the sheer number and emphatic nature of those Bible verses!
In today’s society, trotting out the Bible verses unfortunately, probably won’t stop your child from lying. Why? Because lying has been given such an extremely narrow definition by the world, your child will think she isn’t lying even when she is. In today’s world, a lie is a huge untruth told on purpose to hurt someone else. Partial truths, hidden truths, lies told to “spare” someone else, little “white” lies and more are considered acceptable and “not really lies” in the world.
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.
Preschoolers are great. They are not old enough to have developed the filters in their brains older children have. This means many of the thoughts in their heads pop quickly out of their mouths. The results are sometimes humorous and sometimes embarrassing. There is no doubt though that these little ones are speaking the truth as they see it.
Fast forward a few years and many older children have developed the opposite problem. They have been scolded for sharing thoughts adults feel should not be shared. Unfortunately, many children also learn an adult would rather hear the truth they want to hear rather than the actual truth. If you live in certain regions of the country, your children are told by society to refrain from ever saying anything negative about anyone or anything.
One of my favorite experiences while I was employed by the Hearst Corporation, was a tour of the Good Housekeeping Institute. It is still one of my favorite places in New York City. When an ad ran in Good Housekeeping magazine, every claim in the ad was tested by the Institute. I mean, if the ad claimed a garment could be washed fifty times without fading, those people would get the garment and wash it fifty times to see if it faded! I had one client whose ad they sent back for a re-write. They had evidently melted down a piece of jewelry and it contained a fraction of an ounce more or less of some component and the institute demanded a re-write! To this day, I respect the Good Housekeeping Seal more than virtually any other consumer campaign.
My trust in the Good Housekeeping Seal is there because I know they demand complete honesty in advertising. Not only that, they double check the claims to make sure people are being honest. I wish life had a Good Housekeeping Institute. When someone told us something, we could plug in the claim and it would be checked out. The “Truth Institute” would issue a report telling us how much, if any, of the truth we were being told.
Lately, I have been troubled by several conversations I have had with young adults. The conversations are troubling not just because the person is doing something against God’s specific instructions, but because of the attitude that obeying the Bible is somehow optional for Christians. The exact wording is usually something like, “Well I know there are those one or two scriptures in there that say such and such, but….”.
I have also been stopped from helping improve some programs I volunteer for, as I am told everyone else has told the program leaders things are fine. Ironically, “everyone else” has been telling me in private how miserable they are about how things are going in the various programs. When I ask why they haven’t said anything, the response is usually “I didn’t want to make any waves, so I just said things were fine”.