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Do You Want Your Child to be Truthful?

“Your mom won’t find out . . . and if she asks, just deny it.”

“My mom always find out . . . and I couldn’t lie to my mom . . .”

“Why not? She’s lied to you before . . .”

“My mom has never lied to me.”

“Sure she has, all parents lie.”

“Nope. Not mine.”

“I guarantee they’ve lied to you at least once.”

“Nope.”

“They lied to you when they told you Santa was real.”

“Nope. Not even then. They told me the truth about Santa.”

This was an actual conversation between our son and a friend when they were teens. They both told me the whole story later. Our son was sixteen and driving, and we had a few “helpful guidelines” (umm . . . rules) for him to follow that his friend thought he should ditch. The friend was literally blown away by the fact that our son couldn’t think of a time when we’d lied to him.

When your child suddenly hits the teen years and is getting a bit more freedom, is when fostering loyalty and living with integrity can make a real difference in influencing their choices.

♥  Nurturing integrity requires daily, small choices for truthfulness that span a lifetime.   

This isn’t a post on how to settle the Santa dilemma, and I’m not saying what your decision on that should be, but putting it simply: we chose to tell our kids about the actual, historical, Saint Nicholas because playing the “Santa game” was inconsistent with our commitment to be truthful. But nurturing integrity involves much more than that.

Our children watch us. They see and know whether our actions match our mouthed commitments. They know if we’re saying one thing and doing another. If you want your child to be truthful with you, they need to see you model truthfulness—not only with them but in all your relationships and in every area of your life. They need to hear you come clean with them and ask their forgiveness if you messed up, if you weren’t entirely truthful, or if you didn’t keep a commitment.

♥  Gaining your child’s trust nurtures integrity.

Living with integrity doesn’t guarantee that your child will always be truthful, but it gives you a solid platform to stand on when discussing any issue. If they’ve seen you consistently be truthful, watched you make hard choices that require integrity, perhaps even costly ones—they know they can trust you.

♥  Fearing the bondage of deceitfulness, more than the consequence of truthfulness, nurtures integrity.

If your child develops the habit of lying to cover up bad behavior or to avoid something he doesn’t want to do, don’t overreact or threaten. Lying is not the root issue—it is merely a sinful manifestation of the root issue. When you realize your child is lying, explore his motives and deal with the real problem: greed, laziness, jealousy, etc.

Walk your child through the layers of deception that occur when one lie is told, and another is added to cover up the first, explain how a web of deception gets heavier and more difficult to escape. Invite your child into truthful discourse. Give them a safe place to confess. Reward honest disclosure.

Walking your child into the freedom of the light allows him to escape a web of deceit. Impress on him how much better it feels in the light, how he doesn’t need to be concerned with someone finding out his “secret” there is no “fear of being caught” when you choose to live in the freedom of truthfulness.

A home environment that intentionally admires truthful individuals nurtures integrity. 

Young children imitate role models they admire. Reading biographies of honorable men and women who chose to tell the truth even when it was costly can inspire them to follow their example. Always be watching for opportunities to point out truthfulness in others and explain to your child why that quality is admirable and something for him/her to strive for.

Inspiring your child to live as God’s soldier in the spiritual battle, nurtures integrity. 

We know the source of lies. Jesus told us plainly (John 8:42–44). We shouldn’t hide this reality from our children, but in age-appropriate ways explain that we are in a battle with God’s enemy. Encourage your child to be a warrior in the battle—on God’s side. Let your child know the danger of listening to or speaking lies.

Invite God into the process of nurturing your child’s integrity.

Finally, pray for your child’s integrity. Truthfulness should be a regular and specific point of intercession for your child’s character. Pray with them for truthfulness to be a defining quality of their lives. If you are in conversation and suspect your child is being untruthful, pray for discernment, but also for God to bring to light anything that is hidden. 

A regular prayer throughout our children’s lives was that they would not be able to lie and get away with it; that things they tried to conceal would be brought to light. Now as adults, our children have told us they were often amazed at how faithfully God answered that prayer!

[box]O LORD, who may abide in Your tent?
Who may dwell on Your holy hill?

He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness,
And speaks truth in his heart. (Psalm 15:1–2)[/box]

How are you nurturing integrity in your child?

3 Comments

  • Tambra Lucas

    Very Good! I think this is one of the most important things I have always instilled in my children, and still do in almost every issue, problem, conflict or conversation. “Be Honest” Even little white lies are lies! Sometimes it hurts but its better to be honest and not have to be humiliated and embarrassed because you are having to explain later why you lied. Having integrity and being truthful is not an option, being a child of God demands it. You quoted my exact words there is no fear of being caught if you tell the truth in the first place , truthfulness brings freedom. lying is of the enemy and Satan is the father of all lies.

    One passage that I have used with my children and grandchildren is, Proverbs 19:5 A false witness shall not go unpunished and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.
    So that tells me that we will all be held accountable. Any untruthfulness will be exposed-uncovered. It may be in this lifetime or it may be when we stand before God.
    We don’t want to sit around and fear the consequences , be truthful upfront it’s much less painful the truth will set you free. And God loves and rewards those who are truthful and honest.

  • Jen

    Thank you for this post. It is one area that we struggle with in one of our children. We have taken him to scripture and prayed about it many times. We also offer rewards for truthfulness, but you also gave me many other ideas to encourage integrity. Thank you! I do want to ask, if the root is laziness…..?? How would you suggest we address that core issue?

    🙂

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello Jen ~

    Building a biblical work-ethic into our kids is such a challenge but SO important. There is a lack of understanding today about why lazy conduct and a poor work ethic are particularly morally corrupting and destructive to a society in general.

    I encourage you to do a Bible study with your children (perhaps as a family activity) on the topic of “work.” Look up the many references in the book of Proverbs on slothfulness in contrast to the industrious “way of the ant.” (Prov. 6:6)

    Also, help your child develop a God-centered work ethic as described in 1 Corinthians 10:31 and Colossians 3:17, 23. One way you can do this is by reminding them that a clean room (for example) is not just for their benefit, but it honors God. As they work at their school assignments, it is not just for their teacher, but it is a “work” they do for God.

    I also found it helpful to make a large colorful chart for my children which showed their assigned chores and completed tasks. They LOVED attaching a large sticker (or later adding a simple check mark) to the poster once they finished an assignment. An exercise like this can provide a motivational visual to help them track personal progress and receive a sense of positive accomplishment.

    I don’t know whether this website addresses the topic of childhood laziness specifically, but you might check it out, the site has a lot of helpful parenting articles:

    http://www.biblicalparenting.org/