Honesty

Every parent wishes for their children to be honest, not to lie, never cheat, nor steal or sneak in.

But, is instilling honesty in children as easy as we imagine it to be?

Is it always possible for parents to spot a lie right away it is said by a child?

I’ll talk about myself, I struggle to tell if my 4-year-old is telling a lie or is making up a story on more occasions than I’d like to confess.

This brings us to the question, how do we instill honesty in our children?

I believe, the answer lies in ~ Honesty in Parenting.

honesty - The Era I Lived In

I don’t take any pride in admitting that I have said a fair share of lies in my lifetime. I believe we all have and we still do. But when it comes to our kids, we except nothing but the truth. We base our wholehearted trust in them backed by unconditional love and believe that is enough to inspire our children to speak the truth.

I am no different. But I have often pondered, like every other virtue, isn’t honesty also taught by modelling it to our children?

The lies (that are often said to cover up difficult to answer facts of life, areas of our past we’re not at peace with or disturbing secrets in the family, etc.) said at a young age tend to have a snow-ball effect.

Sooner or later our children are going to find them out and at that point in life, I’m sure I’d lose my precious child’s trust. I’ll never again be in a position to ask her to speak the truth to me. It would be a devastating position to be in and I’m sure every parent would agree to it.

In my journey as a single mother, I have had a plethora of doubts, insecurities and painful facts that I know my child is yet not ready to handle. But, one thing is for sure, I will at some point in my life have to tell them all to her. This very idea, inspired me to prepare a bed-rock of honesty with my child.

I try to be as honest as I possible can be while explaining everything Pari’s curiosity inspires her to ask me. Though I do frame my responses appropriate to her age, I strongly detest from telling her any lies. Be it talking about death, or birth (where she came from?),  violence (that I can’t help but she gets exposed to in the NEWS every now and then) and even about my life as a child.

Mind you, I do not intend to make Pari miss on the joys of believing in the existence of Santa, the tooth fairy and the likes. Every child needs to believe in magic (no-matter for a brief period) to try to recreate it in their life later on. So these exist (so far)  in our world too.

When Pari asks me about my childhood, how I was when I was her age, I make it a point to never photo-shop my image of the younger me (like my parents often do in an attempt to inspire her to be a good child like her mother). I tell her stories of the time when I was reckless and injured someone, told a lie and how it felt. I even go ahead and tell her how I had once stolen my best friend’s eraser in grade 2 because it was too cute to not own.

In those moments, I can see Pari’s face light up, her mouth open in disbelief as she takes up how imperfect her own mother was but this is when I tell her the inside story. I talk to her about the momentous euphoria I had felt on having dodged the questions asked by my parents but what remained in my heart was pure guilt, hurt of being untruthful and fear of being thought of as a liar or worst a thief.

While I am up for supporting my child with positive reinforcement, I can never bring myself to tell her that she was great when she clearly wasn’t. Pari trusts me to tell her the truth, right away or after the tide has passed. My friends call it my perfectionist attitude, my parents see it as being overly realistic with a small child, but when Pari acts lazy, scribbles alphabets shaped like extinct species of insects when I know she can write as beautiful as the printed letters, she hears it from me as it is.

I do not say that I am being an ideal parent by implementing honesty in my parenting in its raw form because no such thing exists. Neither am I confident that this strategy is going to ensure Pari never tells a lie, but I can only hope that modelling honesty in day to day life will inspire Pari enough to come up to me and speak the truth. To be able to face the truth in one’s life, one needs to practice honesty as a part of their lives.

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed,  but I am bound to live up to what light I have.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

I am hoping to open up a channel of communication with my child where I want her to remember she can tell me anything, however ugly it might seem and be sure of my support for her because she chose to speak the truth.

I see parenting as coaching, I have to tell my child exactly what she’s doing wrong to let her work on her weak points and emerge strong enough to face the flinty realities of life.

However, I do ensure not to let go of any opportunities to reward her acts of honesty, compassion, hard-work or sincerity. I make it a point that her acts/ words of wisdom, of being kind never slip past without a genuine “Well done” and singing about how proud she has made her mother.

How honest are you with your children?

* This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge 2016. My theme is Parenting.

Please find my other posts here.

 

45 thoughts on “Honesty

  1. “I see parenting as coaching, I have to tell my child exactly what she’s doing wrong to let her work on her weak points and emerge strong enough to face the flinty realities of life.”

    I’d want to be such a parent when the time comes, yes. Looking back, I wonder if my parents could have done that, instead of seeing my weakness as weakness and getting me to get help from tutors or the like at the first sign of a stumble. I like that they were looking out for me, but I think letting a child figure it out or strengthen a weak area on their own (at first anyways), that is important too.

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    1. That’s an important point you made Vinay. But children need guidance in their early years to learn to see, analyse, think, discuss and work on ways to improve their performance even if they are ahead of the rest. That kind of progressive thinking comes with the parents being utterly honest yet encouraging from early on.
      Thank you for sharing your views 🙂

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  2. Hi Me, I couldn’t agree with you more here. It is so important to be honest with our child to expect them to be honest. You are doing absolutely the right thing by telling Part things as they are ( about your childhood)instead of fabricating stories to lead her to believe that you were perfect.

    Tooth fairy and Santa :-(, no matter how much I want to agree with you, I won’t be able to tell Bambi that they don’t exist. Bambi has been waiting for months now for her tooth to wobble and fall and she is eagerly waiting for tooth fairy. I don’t have a heart to lead her to believe that tooth fairy doesn’t exist.
    Coming back to honesty, a lesson that I’ve recently learnt from Bambi is to act sensibly nd patiently when she does something wrong rather than shouting or scoldING her. What I’ve noticed is she resorts to lying when she thinks she’ll get shouted at. Eg. Few months ago on two consecutive days during her TV time she had ‘wee’ accidents because she was so engrossed that she didn’t want to go to the loo. I had shouted at her on day 1 that on day 2 as soon as she had the accident she called out to say she had spilled some water on her clothes nd on the floor! I calmly said “no worries, it’ll soon dry” nd took her for a change when on her own she admitted that it wasn’t water! when Preeth and I said we had known that, her question was ” are you not angry? I’ll catch the toilet train next time!” That’s when I realised I am to blame if she lied next time because it’s with fear of getting reprimanded that she chooses to lie.

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    1. That was such a valuable lesson you shared Truly Happy. Thank you 🙂
      I am with you in not dispelling the magical feeling of existence of Santa or tooth fairy at this tender age because as our kids will grow they’ll figure out the truth anyway 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well written MyEra! While I appreciate honesty from my kids I believe they don’t tell me everything, somethings only our hearts want to hold and not share. But yes to be truthful is always the moral high ground. Love your series on parenting this month I am learning lots from you, even this veteran mother.

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    1. Honestly speaking, i too have said my share of lies to my parents and so does Pari (which on most occasions I am aware of, but don’t point out in hope of her coming up to me to confess). But, like all parents, I try my best to set an example by modelling what I expect of her. What she picks up and how is entirely up to her and much beyond my control.
      Thank you so much Singledust for your constant support ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree that the only way to instill honesty is to be honest. You are doing a great job with Pari and I’m reading your posts, I’m getting more and more convinced that Pari is getting the best from you. 🙂

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  5. An old saying, “Honesty is the best policy” .. it still holds i think since as you rightly said, kids will find out the truth at some point. I have faced a dilemma when I thought of not telling the entire truth as it would have hurt a child. Eventually I was honest to some extent and omitted the unsavoury part. Does that count as dishonest? I dont know. I filled in the blanks when the child was old enough to understand. What do you think?
    @yenforblue from
    Spice of Life!

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    1. I really wouldn’t call omissions of unsavory details as being dishonest because the truth delivered to a child has to be age appropriate to have a positive impact on their gullible psyche. Besides, you were right in sharing the details later on when the child was old enough to understand where you were coming from.
      Being brutally honest to the point of scaring a child is definitely not advisable.

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    1. That’s an important point that you made Stephen. In the overall growth of a child the impact of the friends and family on his personality is just as important as is of their parents.
      But in the early formative years, it is mainly parents whom the child looks up to for guidance and reference. This is when setting a realistic example of what being honest implies can go a long way in helping the child grow up to be a truthful (in a realistic sense) person.
      Thank you 🙂

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  6. Honest post 🙂 loved reading and yes I do agree with everything you have spoken. parenting today is no more easy task. It takes a lot of effort, patience, perseverance to be open, authentic, courageous to live what we speak.. a challenging task, as the saying goes “values are not taught but caught ” .. thanks for sharing

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    1. I believe parenting has always been the same, a learning curve with challenges at every bend. But in today’s times we are fortunate to have easy access to resources of connecting with like-minded parents across the globe. Learn and share our experiences and evolve instead of feeling stuck in a corner.
      I agree, “values are not taught but caught ” thanks for sharing that wonderful quote G. Angela 🙂

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    1. You are spot on about kids remembering every minute detail we say to them. This is why honesty comes in handy to avoid being stuck in an embarrassing situation later on.

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  7. I love your dedication to honesty with your daughter. Your post brought up a thought… I’m a terrible liar. When someone asks me a question, even a personal one, I’m likely to answer it with the whole truth. What I’m learning, and I think it would be a good thing to teach children alongside honesty, is setting personal boundaries. Being able to say “that’s personal,” or “I don’t discuss that,” is not only healthy, strong behavior, but also reduces the *need* for lying. An example: “What are you writing about?” If it’s private, a kid (or adult) could feel they have to make up a cover story. “Oh, just a to-do list.” A better skill to have is to be able to say “it’s private,” and have that be the end of the discussion.

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    1. That’s a very valid and important point that you made Linda.
      Whipping up a fresh and appealing cover up/ lie is easy and often convenient but in the long run all the lies ganw at our soul and make life a living hell.
      It takes courage to provide an appropriate, smartly worded reply but the effort is worth it to stay true to ourselves and the person it is being said.

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  8. RamyaRao

    My mum, like you. Completely honest. But she expe ts a little more from me, though. Showing her your post. Well said and Park has a really awesome mother. 😃

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    1. Being honest in a realistic sense helps more than narrating tales of idealism. It helps the child understand that even if we fall prey of greed or resort to telling a lie, there is always scope of owning up, apologizing and evening out things.
      Thank you so much Reema 🙂

      Like

  9. Alphabets like insects :p My hand-writing would resemble an anthill then 😀
    True, being honest is of great importance as a parent. The people out there in the cruel world are already rude and nasty. A little bit of honesty at home serves to relieve the stress always 🙂
    Happy weekend! ❤

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    1. I have always been a bit particular about the neatness and correct formation of alphabets irrespective of the language that’s why I make sure Pari practices well. But on days when she is not in a mood to study she writes alphabets that I bet only a chemist can read 😉
      That’s an important point that you’ve made 🙂
      Have a great week ahead ❤

      Like

  10. Shilpa Garg

    Keeping open channels of communication with your children is something that I believe in. Being non-judgmental and giving them the confidence that you trust them is important in forging a relationship that’s based on honesty.

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  11. Love the way you described it. I agree with what you wrote. Though, I believe its you only who can make your child believe that you’re the best friend of her and she has to share everything with you honestly. Hide nothing from you. Once, she’s habitual of this, she will never lie to you.

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    1. Too true StyleBurp 🙂
      Instilling that confidence in the child that she’ll be loved no-matter what, will be accepted and respected instills the confidence to go ahead and speak the truth.

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  12. such an eye-opening post, Era.

    “I see parenting as coaching, I have to tell my child exactly what she’s doing wrong to let her work on her weak points and emerge strong enough to face the flinty realities of life.”

    I think I will adopt this when I become a parent. 🙂
    [@rosemawrites] from
    A Reading Writer

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  13. I must admit, I still do believe in magic 😉
    Coming to this post, as they say honesty is the best policy, you are clearly practicing it! But I also like the fact that you are being careful in giving honest answers keeping in mind Pari’s age!
    Now I am being really honest: I really admire your parenting skill, the way you are learning from your mistakes, trying to implement it in a better way and sharing it with all of us. Kudos to you! I am not saying this because you are a single parent, but because you really deserve to be applauded!

    Cheers,
    Srivi – AtoZChallenge
    The Piscean Me | Twitter

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