Jun 28, 2012

Little lies can lead to big problems

As parents we have all heard these words from our kids: “I didn’t do it, Mom – It’s not me, HE did it – I didn’t eat the chocolate in the fridge, I swear I didn’t.” If we find these utterances by our children cute and seem proud of their language skills, they will languish in the praise and continue to tell lies. The little lies will eventually escalate to punishable wrongs and the kids will be confused as to why they are being punished. It is the parent’s duty to nip lying in the bud. Kids tell fibs all the time not realizing that they are lying and what it means to lie. A sweet might go missing from the bowl or a plate might have fallen to the floor that they are responsible for and when mom asks, ‘who did it’, no one answers or you get the most preposterous responses.

Correct your children when they lie

I remember being around seven or eight when I took a penny from the shelf of the kitchen dresser without asking; only a penny – but how my mother dealt with that penny was to ask each child individually, ’did you take the penny?’ My sister and brother said no. When it came to my turn, I could only look down at my toes and admit that it was me. She did not make a big thing about it, and did not talk to me in front of my younger brother and sister, but told me nicely after my bedtime bath that to tell a lie is to be dishonest, and that she would not like to think of me as a dishonest child. That was the biggest shame for me and I never forgot it.

Levels of punishment

We love our kids, but part of our job is to correct them when they are wrong. It is for their benefit, and parents are charged with the responsibility. As there are degrees in the levels of dishonesty there should be levels of correction when kids start to lie. Taking a sweet without asking may be nothing when you are two or three, but when you steal a cell phone at school or a chocolate bar from the grocery store, it is a big thing. Parents should bring up these subjects over dinner when everyone is at the table and talk to them about what can happen if they lie. Lies lead to wrongdoing if not corrected, and a child who steals from a grocery shop will get into big trouble later on when he runs with the wrong crowd and his parents do not punish him. He won’t be so cute behind bars.


Emotional dishonesty on the internet

You meet a nice guy on the internet and a friendship soon develops between you where all is good and above board and he is a nice, genuine friend. After dozens of email exchanges you decide to meet, and you arrive at the restaurant where you are going to have dinner and find that he is sitting in a wheelchair. You are shocked. He never mentioned his disability. What do you do? He is a nice man and you still like him, but he has been dishonest with you in not disclosing that he has a disability. Do you feel you’ve been tricked? Do you ask him about it? Do you have the dinner and not mention it? Do you become angry? After all, it is just a dinner date and you supposedly are only friends. Your own honesty will be tested with what you do next.

Possible responses

• You can greet him and not act surprised and have dinner as you normally would and not mention anything at all and when you get home, just delete him from the computer.

• You can greet him and bring up the matter, as it has to be addressed, after the drinks have been served and while you are waiting for dinner. You could ask him why in over a hundred letters between you he did not mention the fact that he was wheelchair bound.

• You can get angry and become rude, which is not going to serve anyone.

• You can be sympathetic and understand why he’s done it, and if he is enough of a friend and you like his company, tell him honestly that you would like to be friends only and that you have no hidden desires.

• You can also go home, write him a nice note thanking him for dinner, not mentioning anything of his disability and delete him from your life. If you are a true friend and really had no intentions or expectations, you could remain his friend.

In conclusion, there was dishonesty involved in that he omitted important information about himself in order to get a date, but one can certainly understand why. Probably he has been rejected many times and wanted to meet you first before he told you. If you truly have no expectations, you can forgive him and continue with the friendship. It is up to you.