April 11, 2006

The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth

I wish I could say that the title of this post is what we hear around here. Unfortunately, we've been dealing with a lying issue of late. I just posted a glowing report on Tobin, since his birthday is just around the corner, but to let people know our life is far from perfect, here's a balance to that. Surprisingly, though, the culprit here is Charis, our normally rule-following, people-pleasing daughter. She knows what the standards are around here, and she knows what the Bible says on a lot of issues, including lying. But for some reason (yeah, I know, it's that ugly sin nature!) she has chosen to give in to the temptation to lie.

It's happened probably 6-8 times within the past month, enough to make Ted and me feel rather alarmed at this trend. Two of those occasions involved other children, meaning that Charis lied about them intending to get them in trouble. One was her friend Hannah, and the other was Tobin. In both instances, from a human standpoint, I can somewhat understand the motivation behind the lie--she was hurt (emotionally with her friend, physically with Tobin) and I think wanted to retaliate in some way. At the same time, I was utterly shocked to see my daughter behave in this manner. Since I had caught her in other lies before these particular occasions, it was easier to accept the fact that yes, she did lie, and now it was time to deal with the situation. Had I not caught her in other lies before, I may have easily believed Charis' story and assumed the other children were at fault. Now I know better!

The other lies involved situations that are again easy to understand--for example, she lied about doing a task, knowing that she would get in trouble for not having done it. What stumps me is why she didn't seem to grasp the fact that lying would only make her situation worse!

Last week was particularly bad, with 2 lies on Monday and 2 on Wednesday. The last lie on Wednesday was the one involving Tobin, and I prayed out loud in front of the children that God would give me wisdom to discern who was telling the truth. I praise God that the truth became very clear; it was Charis who lied. I discussed with her the fact that it becomes so much harder for Mommy and Daddy to believe her when we've heard her lie so many times. That, along with the prayer time and punishment that followed, may have helped the message sink in. I'm pleased to report that Charis has not, to my knowledge, told a lie in nearly a week. I have, however, caught her telling the truth! :-) I've asked her specific questions on occasion to give her the opportunity to choose truth over a lie, and when she told the truth (even at risk of getting herself into trouble), I took the time to praise her and encourage her to continue to stand in the way of truth, because that's what GOD wants from us.

I hope and pray that we've nipped this in the bud, because though this is a problem that may seem innocuous now (to her, anyway--not to her parents!), it can definitely lead to even worse character issues down the road.

One thing I'm grateful for: my daughter is a terrible liar! She has no concept of being sneaky--yet! It has been ridiculously easy to catch her in these lies, and I am so thankful for that. I don't want this to get to the point where cunning deceit enters the picture and makes it more difficult for me to discern what is really happening.

I had planned to post more details about our dilemma awhile ago, hoping to get some good advice from other parents! Thankfully we seem to be doing much better; however, if you have any ideas, any creative ways to approach this that will help her (and our other kids) grasp how important it is to tell the truth, even if it means getting in trouble...please feel free to leave a comment! I'd love to hear from you!


Ski said...

Hi Beverly,
In some of my teacher ed courses would discuss lying and how to deal with it. One teacher (first grade) in class used to tell the kids that they wouldn't get in trouble (with in reson) if they told the truth. This really worked for her and her classes. The kids weren't afraid to tell the truth and she actually had less discipline problems than most teachers. I tried it with a few of my students and it helped cut down on the lying in my classroom. It is really hard not discipline for the event and usually natural consequences resulted which worked better than anything I came up with. Again with in reason- causing harm to another person or property. Hope this helps. so far we haven't had to deal with this issue at home. Also, I read in a parenting magazine that kids go through a "lying stage". They are testing what is a lie and what happens when they tell a lie.

Beverly said...

That makes sense. And there have been times where I have "rewarded" Charis for not lying, I guess, because I didn't punish her for the original offense. Most often the "offense" is something as simple as forgetting to put something away, or do a normal chore, or whatever. If she hadn't lied about doing it, I would simply have said, "OK, please go [do whatever.]" But lying about it called for some action!

Thankfully she has done a great job over the last week--I haven't caught her in ANY lies, and I'm so happy about that! Here's hoping we're leaving this "lying stage!"