To Tell the Truth

Oct 30, 2013 by

lying child

Recently, I have had more than one friend tell me that they are having a problem with their child lying to them, and they are unsure of what to do to make it stop. So I’m jumping on this subject with the ferocity of my conviction and the Lord’s Word (Leviticus 19:11). I believe the very foundation of any relation and the foundation of our character is grounded in our integrity – of which one part is truth-telling. If we don’t get this character trait established in the DNA of our children, they will grow to be untrustworthy, manipulative, self-centered individuals. We must be strong and put a stop to the lies.

If you are against soapboxes, stop reading now because I’m on mine.

To be a person of integrity you must be one who speaks the truth at all times. And to raise truth-telling children, we must first be truth-telling adults.

First, examine your own life. Are you telling the truth all the time, or do your children hear you lying? Do you even ask them to lie for you? For example, you get a call and you don’t want to speak to that person right now. So you have your child tell them you are not home. What principle are you modeling for your child? Now they know that if they don’t want to do something or don’t want to talk to someone or in whatever manner want their own way in a situation, all they have to do is lie.

Next, truly examine your children’s motives for lying. I believe lying breaks down into 3 categories.

1. To manipulate

2. Simply a learned response to uncomfortable situations

3. A story-teller

Let’s break it down.

#1 To manipulate. This is the child who just wants their own way and will do anything to get it. They are manipulating every situation to their advantage. They will become so practiced and bold in their lying that even when faced with the clear truth, they will stick to their lie to be sure of the outcome they want.

#2 A learned response. This is the one in which we as parents must take responsibility. As parents, we have either modeled a lying response enough times as to make it a norm in our home. Or we have allowed our child to get away with lying and never suffer any consequences. We, the parents, have allowed lying to become embedded in our child’s natural response cache.

#3 A story-teller. This child is I think the easiest one to reprogram. They are simply a creative looking for an outlet and have never learned to distinguish appropriate times for their stories. They are not being malicious or manipulative; they simply are creating fantasy. For example, the child comes home and when asked what happened at school, makes up things that didn’t happen. After being confronted, that quickly admit that wasn’t all true and proceed to tell the truth. Are they being malicious or just creative? A natural story-teller will always be tempted to embellish the truth.

The common approach to all three of these reasons for lying is simple. It must be addressed directly and established boundaries and consequences strictly enforced. You are not going to do you or your child any favors by ignoring this problem or sweeping it under the rug. The Enemy is the king of lies and will feed on this flaw in them every chance he gets. So it’s time to put a stop to the lies and live completely in the truth.

So what do we do?lies not allowed

For the manipulator – clear boundaries, strict accountability, and severe consequences until the trust has been rebuilt. You must constantly reiterate to your child that you are doing this because you love them and want to have a trust-filled relationship with them. You also want them to have trust-filled relationships with other people.

For the learned response – you must stop lying. Sit your child down. Confess to them that you have been wrong in modeling a life less than truthful. Then work together on being truth-speakers. Establish this as a family principle that you all value and will uphold together. If this new positive direction is not enough to change their behavior, then see #1.

For the story-teller. Train them in the difference between a lie and a story. Explain that even though you as their parent may know they are creating a story, other people are going to take them at their word. So when they are asked for direct information, they need to always tell only the truth. But you as a parent can create space for creativity. For example, at dinner say to your child, “So if you could change how your day went, tell us what would have happened.” Make sure they understand this is story time. They are not lying; everyone knows they are creating a fantasy world with their story and that is okay in this situation. By this you encourage their creativity and teach them appropriate behavior.

These precious children have been entrusted to you to train in the Word and in truth. It is a very difficult job. But we must take this responsibility to heart to purposefully raise our children to become people of integrity.

  • If you have a child who struggles with lying, which category do they fall in?
  • What steps are you going to take to correct this behavior in your child?



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