Today I would like to offer some single parent advice to you east van single parents out there (and the rest of the world too!) and answer the question, “Why are my children lying?” Lying always seems like the easy way out. Most of us do it instinctively to avoid getting into perceived trouble or drama. Being a great parent takes remembering what it felt like to be a great kid and that unfortunately rings true for negative character traits as well though. If we are assholes, our kids will turn out to be assholes. And lying to yourself about it doesn’t help either.
Well, yesterday I caught my son in a “harmless” white lie. At the age of eight however, one could argue the harmless point, hence the quotations. While sitting on the couch, I notice that the 3.5 floppy disks I had dragged out of the closet,were sitting conspicuously on the chair, outside of their natural habitat. It reminded me of a Bernie Mac joke from the Kings of Comedy about how there are only two people in the house and if shit gets broke, he knows who the fuck did it.
Check out about 1:20 – 1:47 for the reference material.
Im kinda thinking the same thing, “I didn’t leave those there, how did they get there? I didn’t even take the disks out!”
So I asked my son, “Did you take those disks out?” The answer was quick and obvious. “No.” was the reply with the regular “why are you accusing me of shit” tone.
Now I know enough to head this behaviour off at the pass. So with my “quick goat thinking” i decide to explain to my boy about the significance of white lies.
I sat him down and told him point blank – Lies of any kind are not acceptable in my house. I went on to explain how lies that might seem insignificant really breed mistrust. Once you tell one lie, you usually have to tell more lies to cover up the first lie. So a little lie can turn into a bunch of little lies and thats more little lies than we can handle.
A big part of my parenting talks with Isaiah are about resolve and how to correct our problems. For this lesson, I wanted him to feel safe telling me that he had lied so that we can try harder to correct the problem and as always, I would help him work on it if he was willing to do his part. I also had him practice saying, “Dad, I just lied about something. Can we fix it?” directly to my face with 100% eye contact. This helps build a scenario/situation in which he feels comfortable telling me things he might not otherwise say.
I really like to reinforce the moment in my sons memory by asking him to take an emotional photo of how he feels right now. This is to help him index the feelings of relief and happiness knowing that Dad is NOT angry. Now my son can be confident knowing that if he makes a mistake by lying instinctively to me he can tell me that it has happened and really get to identify and change the behaviour and make our home a happier place to live.
To sum up my points here:
1.Don’t get angry with your kids for doing something wrong. Instead make sure they know how to do something right first.
2.Create an environment where correct and fix is the attitude rather than punish. (This is harder for those of us who caught cans of whoop ass on the backside as kids!!)
3.Ask yourself – is my child learning these behaviours from me?
Because I’m just an East Van single dad trying to relate through experience, here are some bonus links to other articles about children and lying that may prove useful.
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
This article has excellent advice on dealing with lying.
Audrey Marlene, a well known life coach, also has some advice for parents on the subject.
This advice over at naturalchild.com is similar.
And remember, being a great parent takes remembering what it takes to be a great kid!
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