Does my bum look big in this?
Getting children to tell the truth has to be one of the greatest challenges for any parent, yet it doesn’t always work both ways. We expect it from them, but don’t always give it back. Why? What’s the issue here? Don’t children deserve the truth? What have they done that they don’t deserve our honesty? We want them to tell us the truth for their own sake, for their safety and welfare, for their moral well-being. We want it from them, in all its glory so we can tackle the problem at hand. Do we always give them the same in return, even in its diluted form, or do we sometimes shy away?
Of course, sometimes not telling the truth can make life in the short-term easier. I’m a firm believer though, that one way or another the deceit will seek you out, trip you up, and put you on your face. The cliché- there’s always one- ‘The truth will out’.
A child wants to watch a DVD, but for one reason or another it doesn’t suit you.
“The DVD isn’t working today,” you might say, just to end the conversation. Let’s be clear- this is a lie, not a distraction. The child might take the bait the first time, maybe the second, but there almost inevitably will come a time when they see that the DVD does work, and no one came to fix it. A case in point I know, but you see what I mean. Maybe not as a result of that single occasion, but repeated many times, the child will begin to believe that this simple level of deceit is ok.
Take the retort- ‘we’ll see.’ How many times does it really mean no?
Parents try to give lessons in truth.
“Did you steal that money?” you ask. You know they did.
“No,” they say.
“That’s a lie!!!” you tell them. “It’s so bad to tell lies. It will get you into a lot of trouble. You must always tell the truth!” you say several times during the course of the next few hours. “Lies lead to trouble,” you remind them. Too true!
What the child should say of course is- “so why did you lie to me about the DVD?”
Here’s a classic situation:
Your partner asks, “does my bum look big in this?”
Remember- the truth can hurt.
“No,” you say. It isn’t true. You don’t believe it any more than you believe the moon is made of green cheese. But still you say it. Why? For an easy life, or because you think the full force of that truth will cause irrevocable damage? Maybe it won’t. Maybe the person you liberate from your own deceit might want to make their own choices. After all it is their truth and not yours. I know we can’t be purists, but you know what I mean. Of course you do!