Our culture has changed so dramatically since my husband and I had our three boys, who are now in their twenties. But the basic principles for raising godly children have not changed. God’s word does not change with the culture.
If you randomly asked any one of my boys what our number one rule of the house was, he would say without hesitation, “Always Tell the Truth.”
How does a child learn to lie? I was amazed that this sweet, innocent child of mine could look at me and say, “Yes, I picked up all my toys,” only to discover he had shoved them under the bed. Where did he learn that? Enforcing the rule to always tell the truth soon became a weekly, if not daily, occurrence.
With three young boys at home, the real version of what happened sometimes took awhile to extract. We taught them to get to the truth quickly and start the process of recovery. It’s much less painful to come clean early, rather than compounding one lie with several more to cover it. In continuing to lie we will inevitably tell more lies, while telling the truth will put an end to deception and allow an opportunity for forgiveness and personal growth.
This simple concept can be so hard to grasp, even for adults. We see celebrity athletes struggling with telling the truth about steroid use even when they have been caught at it. Their reputation and integrity are compromised when the public sees them continuing to deny the truth. Admitting to a mistake and expressing regret would start the recovery process and allow them to move on.
Proverbs is very clear about speaking truth:
There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who stirs up conflict in the community. (6:16-19)
Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.” (12:19)
So how do we train our children to be truthful? Three basic guidelines may help:
- Start with a relentless commitment to truth. There are no little white lies.
- Convey that second and third offenses erode trust. Guard your reputation.
- Encourage coming clean quickly. Then allow your child to experience from you the forgiveness and love of the recovery process first modeled by Jesus.
Our children will inevitably struggle with this, but early training to always tell the truth can be a great tool in dealing with difficult situations all of their life.