Oh sorry, I lied

Kids have to feel it's safe to tell the truth, or they won't.

When you tell them it will be easier on them if they fess up to the major crime of not having really brushed their hair, you better not be lying yourself.

Offering them an out, a way to come clean with dignity works. Tell them you want to start over, give them the opportunity to re answer whether they really washed their hands or brushed their teeth, pretend they didnt even answer yet. No repercussion (or lecture for having lied) just a fresh start as a reward for having been brave enough to have told the truth.

Kids need to value honesty in order to be honest. If lying is a way to survive, it has far more value than telling the truth. If our kids need to lie to maintain their dignity, they will. If kids need to lie to do the normal things kids like to do, they will.

Doesn't it make more sense to know what our kids are really doing than basically force them to lie? How does a young teen phone mom and/or dad when they're in a jam if they've lied about what they are really doing? They can't, so you won't even know they're in trouble until it's maybe too late to help them.

I believe honesty is something to be taught early in life, that parents need to provide their kids with an environment that rewards honesty. That honesty is about respect for others and ones own self. Honesty is admired and applauded, recognized as an act of courage many times.

I feel it's also important to talk about the times it's ok to lie, because such times exist. I straight out told my son if he ever needed to lie to get out of a situation involving drugs or alcohol or any of the other precarious situations our kids are exposed to regularly that it was ok to do whatever he needed in the moment. I gave him the example of being offered a cigarette. If it's easier to say, "nah, thanks man but I just put one out", go for it.

I promised him early that if I knew from him about something that happened in school instead finding out from another parent or teacher, things would be much easier for him, as far as I approached the situation anyway. I really respect the courage it takes for a child to be honest in the face of certain punishment or consequence and delivered my *sentences* accordingly.

I'd just like to close this post with something I did when my son was in kindergarten or grade one. He had lied to me about something silly the day before, I'd busted him and we'd talked about it. I was trying to figure out a way to get him to understand how it feels to be lied to, to not trust someone you love and care about. So, I decided to lie to him. I picked him up from school, all bright and cheery announcing we'd be hitting McD's on the way home to get him a happy meal (it was always all about the toy, not the food). When we pulled up to our home and he said, hey, I thought we were going to get a happy meal I replied, oh, sorry, I lied.

We had another good talk about it, I assured him that would be the only time he'd ever experience a lie from me and I can honestly say lying was never a big problem in our home.

It took effort and consistency and I'm not naive enough to think I know everything thing there was and is to know about my son's life but I do know that one of the things he takes most pride in is being an honest man. One of the things I take the most pride in is knowing he knows he has always had a safe place in this world to be honest, and that's with me, his mom.


  1. I use the very little consequences when the truth is told, my oldest just can’t lie. My middle one is crafty. My youngest I can never tell if she is lying or it’s aphasia. lol

  2. Us middle kids are not only easily recognized by the chips on our shoulders, Sunday. Our crafty ways are legend ; )


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