Were you shocked the first time your child lied to you? It seemed to happen so naturally. Their first words are so cute and anticipated. Soon they were talking in complete sentences and suddenly they were also able to lie with their words. When they are little and tell a lie it is so obvious it is almost humorous, but do not allow them to see you laugh. When they tell their first lie is the time to begin discussing truthfulness.
If you value truth and honesty then you should consistently correct and object to all lies. Most people tell lies as self-preservation. It is a cover up and trouble avoidance technique. However, eventually truth is known and lies are exposed. Help your children learn this lesson while they are young. If a parent is seeking information such as who broke the lamp, maintain self-control because any demonstration of anger will cause the offender to avoid confession.
We often told our children they would be in less trouble if they admitted quickly to an accident or even wrong doing, than if they hid it or lied. The later would always result in a stronger action or punishment. Be careful to be truthful yourself, if you establish this precedent.
As a child, I was often unable to consider possible outcomes of an action in any way except to do the action and see what happened. I often did things without any thought of consequences what so ever. One day when I was about twelve (yes, at twelve years old, I should have known better) I stuck a broken pocket clip from a pen into a car trunk keyhole. I lost it in there and did not know how to get it out. I figured I was in big trouble and tried to forget about it. When I told my, also twelve year old cousin, Lin, what I did she quoted scripture to me. She said, “John 8:32 says, ‘Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.’” This scripture is symbolically referring to Jesus as the Truth. I took it literally and soon found my dad to confess the truth to him so I could be free of the guilt of my deed. His response was that he had wondered how that little piece got in the keyhole and he had easily removed it with a pair of needle-nosed pliers. My worry and guilt was my only punishment. No physical damage was done to the car.
Trust is built on truth. As your children age, they will be in more and more settings where you must trust them. Help them to embrace truthfulness. Recognize and reward truthfulness in them. Whenever you are interrogating them (I mean questioning them) about a situation choose your words carefully so that you are not condemning. Restrain your emotions so they do not feel accused and become defensive.
One day at my sister-in-law’s house someone put a can of root beer in the freezer and forgot it. One by one she calmly questioned her 3 and our 4 children. No one admitted to have any claim or knowledge of the soda. She cleaned up the huge mess inside the freezer from the exploded can. Liquid when frozen expands and cannot be contained in the same amount of space as cold or room temperature fluids. A day or two later our father-in-law suddenly remembered his root beer and went to the freezer to retrieve it. Even adults make mistakes.
Disobedience and lying were the two offenses which we were the strictest about with our children. It was exhausting, but our efforts resulted in our children being honest people. It is a character trait that honors God, and is highly valued by spouses, friends, and employers.