When your kids lie you may feel frustrated and helpless as to how to help them just tell the truth already! One of our family mottos is when someone says these three words, “Be honest EVEN…” Another finishes, “…when it’s hard.” When kids lie, it hurts relationships. But telling the truth, not lying, is crucial to build connected relationships. Your home needs to be a safe place where it’s not an option for kids to lie. There are lots of reasons kids lie:
- To protect others’ feelings: “Sure, that looks great!“
- To avoid getting in trouble: “No, I didn’t do it!“
- To not have someone feel disappointed: “It wasn’t me!”
- To avoid judgment: “You like to read THOSE books?“
- To fit in with or impress others: “Yeah, I like to do those things, too.“
However, every reason you are tempted to lie denies who you are in Jesus Christ: Accepted. Forgiven. In right relationship with the Father. If you call lies “making up stories” or “stretching the truth” you don’t allow for what’s really necessary here: Confession and Repentance. If YOU want your family to value honesty in your home, here are THREE WAYS to help:
#1 Model honesty and integrity in your own life.
The saying, “Say what you mean and mean what you say” is often used to help parents follow through with children. But it’s also very appropriate in this case. Because when you don’t – and you won’t 100 % of the time – then admit it and ask for forgiveness. For example, if you call in “sick” to work, but you’re not really sick, that is a lie. If you pretend your child is younger than a certain age to save a couple bucks on a movie or the entrance fee to an amusement park or to get a cheaper haircut, you are lying and your kids know it. And how can we possibly expect our children to be honest – even when it’s hard – if we are modeling dishonesty when it’s convenient for us?
#2 When Kids Lie, Keep them Accountable
Look, no one enjoys discipling children. But if you can remember that discipline actually means “to teach” it may help you understand the need for it. So, when you find that your child has lied (i.e. “I didn’t eat the cookies.” While their face is covered in crumbs and their hands are smeared with chocolate and 1/2 the cookies are missing), you need to Stop, Breathe, Pray (SBP) and say, “It seems like you were hoping I would think you didn’t eat the cookies.” Pause. SBP. “But you did.” SBP. “I still love you. I will always love you.” Pause. SBP. “In this family we tell the truth even when it’s hard. Do you want to try that again?”
If your child is dug in and refusing to admit it. You can continue to Stop, Breathe, Pray while administering a consequence for lying. Like this:
“God loves us even though we are sinners and that is how I love you. I wish you hadn’t eaten the cookies. I wish you weren’t refusing to the tell the truth about it, either. But, my love for you hasn’t changed. And because I love you I can’t allow you to continue in this lie. I love you too much for that.”
I know a teenage girl who lies about big things and little things and everything in between. She lies so much and so often that I am pretty sure even she doesn’t know what is actually true anymore. It breaks my heart. But, since no one has consistently called her out on these lies, she continues to live this way. She has a long road ahead of her. One that’s rough as she is going to have to figure out what is real and what is false. Don’t you want to do it differently for your children?
#3 Kids lie, but Jesus is still in control
Listen, if you say that you accept Jesus as your Savior, that you believe He lived the perfect life, willingly chose to die a sinner’s death in your place, rose again by the power of the Holy Spirit on the third day…and yet you are still denying that you are a liar? Something is wrong here.
Moms, you NEED Jesus because you cannot ever live perfectly – no matter how hard you try! BUT, if you model for your children that YOU don’t make mistakes (by not confessing them and asking for forgiveness) then YOUR CHILDREN are going to learn that “white lies” and “telling stories” and “not telling the whole truth” is actually an OK way to live. And when you start letting little lies go (I don’t mean not having grace and forgiveness for them but by not calling them out as such), then THIS is what will become of your children’s character.
Jesus died for our sins so you don’t have to!
You are a sinner. So am I. We ALL are! Admit it, confess it, ask for forgiveness, keep trying to do better. But please, PLEASE, don’t ever, EVER let it go as, “They’re just kids telling stories.” THAT will set them up for a lifetime of pain and suffering and – even worse – missing the grace and sweet forgiveness that lies in the arms of an all-knowing and very loving, Father!
Connect Point Moms helps you create stronger relational connections with the children in your life. This starts with being aware of your own stuff so you can BE PRESENT with your children in the moment you’re in, and then knowing and using the best ways to communicate with them. For quick, helpful parenting videos, find Kate Connects on YouTube or join our Facebook group to find encouraging supportive moms struggling through it all together!