There are very few things in this life that I despise more than being lied to by someone. For most parents it’s one of the first big life lessons we start teaching our children as soon as they’re old enough to talk.
Two of my friends and their kids are staying with us right now due to a few unfortunate events. That means we have kids ages 8, 6, 4, 3, and 10 months in our house right now. As you can imagine that means a lot of confrontations and lots of chances to lie. We’ve spent a lot of time disciplining the 6-year-old and sometimes Josiah on the importance of telling the truth.
We’ve had them write scriptures, memorize scripture, and we’ve explained time and time again about what the Bible says about lying and how it affects everyone in the family. Still, the 6-year-old lies about silly things. We’ve been scratching our heads as a family unit trying to figure out what is going on.
I finally asked our friends, “Has there ever been a time that the kids have heard you say something and they knew it was a lie when you said it?”
We really had to think about that hard question. We don’t like to think that our kids watch us mess up and follow suit, but the truth is they do. They hear us tell them not to lie, and then they watch us lie when we think they’re not looking.
Yesterday, we discovered that Josiah and the 6-year-old accidentally broke the door to my new dishwasher while doing dishes. Even though it’s new, the warranty doesn’t cover “children malfunction,” only the malfunction of equipment.
With the children standing there, the repair man said, “If I were you, since it’s new, I would call Frigidaire and tell them the door hinges malfunctioned so you don’t have to pay for it.”
I told him, “The kids broke it and we know that isn’t covered under the warranty.”
His response was, “You don’t have to tell them that.”
Boom. There it was. The kids were standing there watching and another adult was giving the green light on lying. This was one of those times that could make or break my word as a parent.
I don’t have the extra money to fix the dishwasher and it would be so easy to tell this one little lie to fix the mess my kids made. Here’s the thing: Kids lie to get out of their consequences and we teach them they need to own up and pay for their mistakes. The dishwasher needing to be repaired is the consequence for their mistakes, but it’s a consequence they can’t quite pay for so it inevitably falls to me. Am I now going to lie my way out of a consequence today when I just told them yesterday it was wrong?
So I calmly told him, “No, we will just have to pay for it. I cannot teach my children not to lie and then lie to get out of paying for the dishwasher.”
For some of you, this may seem silly. Some of you may even been thinking it’s crazy that we won’t tell a little white lie to get out of spending $100 to fix a dishwasher. For us though, we feel like we have to practice what we preach.
Our kids may not remember the hundreds of times we told them not to lie or punished them for lying, but they will remember the times that we chose to tell the truth even when it wasn’t easy.