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 instil honesty in our children?
I believe, the answer lies in ~ Honesty in Parenting.
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 expect 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 snowball 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 possibly 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.
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