We have been talking a lot about telling the truth around our house lately… about what the truth is and when it is okay to tell a lie.
The kids have asked why sometimes parents lie to their kids and why adults would lie to each other. It has brought up a lot of hard conversations that I have tried to handle with grace. I have been learning to share my thoughts carefully these days since my kids love to share exactly what I say with everyone they know.
Last night they asked if there are good lies and bad lies and how to tell the difference.
First, I do not think that lying to our children is ever a good practice. It causes them to lose their trust in us and it can even cause them to lose their faith in people in general.
But, we talked about how sometimes parents will lie to their children to keep something a surprise… by maybe telling them they are going one place when they are really going somewhere else. The parents mean well and don’t consider that lying, but later on the child may only remember that their parents told them something different. Why did they lie to me?
Do I lie? Sometimes…
I take a different approach with my kids… and I tell them outright if I am going to lie to them… which they reminded me of during this conversation. Whenever I take them on a surprise trip, they love to try to guess where we are going. I tell them upfront, even if they guess the surprise, I will not tell them and ruin the surprise. Sometimes I will even say, one of your twenty guesses was correct, but I’m not going to tell you which one.
Telling the truth builds trust.
I think it is important to build the element of trust with my kids. If they are going to the dentist to have work done on their teeth, I tell them that yes, it is going to hurt. If we are going to have to face a fear, I address it head on rather than letting it be a last minute surprise.
When their dad was sick and they told me that they were scared of him dying, I never promised them that he was going to be okay. Instead I told them that I got scared sometimes too, but that I prayed that God would heal him and I knew that no matter what, WE would be okay. As a rule, I never make promises that I’m not sure I can keep to them. If I’m not sure about something, I tell them upfront I don’t know. And I rarely say never…
Proverbs 12:22 says, “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people that are trustworthy.”
I would take that verse a step further and say that our children delight in us too when they know they can trust us to follow thru on our words.
So in answer to the kids question, no I don’t think that there are good lies and bad lies… I think it is important to speak truth to them so that they will grow up to be adults of strong character as well.
What do you think? Are there situations when you think it would be okay to not tell the truth to a child? Times when you think that there are “good” lies?