All kids dabble in stretching the truth or outright lying, and sure, it’s to their benefit to learn early that lies have consequences. One important thing for parents to consider however is there are often deeper reasons kids choose lying over honesty. Avoidance of the truth may be an indicator of any number of issues or warning signs. Avoidance in these instances is typically related to fear. Fear of consequence as a reason for lying or withholding the full truth sounds like a no-brainer, when it comes to children and adolescents. After all, kids worry about getting into trouble with their parents. If however, we take that notion a little deeper, the idea that our kids are fearful to share truth with us as parents should give us pause.
As parents we should consider what we are doing or what we could do, to make telling the truth easier or possibly to reward truth, or offer a sense of immunity when the truth is proactively shared. That doesn’t mean to eliminate consequences related to poor choices. But as parents we have to make sure we’re relaying the truth of our love and compassion to our kids in meaningful ways that will encourage them to trust us enough to tell us the truth. We also want them to be safe, and to make good choices. Telling the truth is a good choice. Open doors, open ears, open hearts, open dialogue and a bit of grace even in the midst of unavoidable consequences can change the dynamic of character and honesty in a home, and strengthen families.
Open doors. Proactively create opportunities within your family to discuss issues related to honesty and character. Let them know you always have time for them, and leave the door open.
Open ears. Don’t just listen to your kids when they’re talking to you. Pay attention as they interact with others and listen to the circumstances and environment around you. Your kids need to know your ears are always open to them and that no topic of discussion is off limits.
Open hearts: Make sure your kids know they can talk to you because you care. Communicate to your kids that there is no limit to your unconditional love for them.
BIO: Dr. Chester Goad is a university administrator, a former high school teacher, former principal, and former US Congressional staffer. He is co-author of Tennessee’s “Dyslexia Is Real” bill, which recently passed unanimously. Currently he sits on the Editorial Review Board for the Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability. A leader in education, non-profit advocacy, parenting issues, and policy, Chester holds two degrees in leadership, and has been quoted in major newspapers, magazines, and media outlets. He is author of the Amazon #1 Bestselling book, “Purple People Leader”. You can learn more about him at www.purplepeopleleaderbook.com or www.chestergoad.com He and his wife live in Tennessee with their teenage son.