When you catch your tween in a lie, use the transgression to teach your child that his actions have consequences. Here are four steps to make this point clear:
- Explain that while confessing the wrongdoing is difficult, it's what God expects of us.
- Caution your child that one lie often builds into a series of lies that cannot be undone.
- Help your child understand that while he may benefit from the lies at first, eventually he will be found out or will feel an unsettling feeling that won't go away.
- Give an example of how a lie has affected your family.
These steps, coupled with discipline, will make clear to your child how lies can be subtle, yet harmful. Here's how three families handled lying and guided their tweens to do the right thing:
Let truth defend itself
He wasn't where he was supposed to be.
Our 11-year-old son should've been sleeping at his friend's house, but instead he and his buddy decided to sneak out and run around the nearby golf course.
Initially, our son denied the allegations but soon acknowledged the truth. Although we knew disciplinary action was necessary, we doubted that a timeout would truly move his heart to the point of repentance.
We decided to let truth speak against our son's lie by jotting down every Scripture reference related to lying, along with 1 John 1:9, which offered forgiveness after repentance. We asked him to write out, in one sitting, each verse from his personal Bible. He wrote; we prayed.
We trusted the Holy Spirit to bring about the perfect balance of conviction and forgiveness. Our son's ability to discover truth for himself allowed the Holy Spirit to bypass his ears and aim directly for the heart.
I let him lie
When I saw my son's friend Andrew at the door, I wondered if he was coming by to ask about his necklace. My son Davis had shown me how he'd accidentally snapped the fishing line that held the necklace's beading and arrowhead. We put the pieces in a baggy and set it aside.
But when Andrew asked Davis if he'd left the necklace at our house, Davis lied.
I was eavesdropping and could have stopped him, but I allowed my son to lie and let his friend leave.
Then I waited.
The house was quiet — the ideal environment for a war to take place in my son's conscience. Silently I made lunch, and called Davis to come eat.
As we picked at our food, I asked, "How does your heart feel?"
He knew exactly what I meant.
"Gross," he said.
"Yeah, lying feels yucky. The only way to fix it is to tell the truth."
The lie became unbearable within 15 minutes. And with that, he left the house to take ownership of the lie by apologizing to his friend.
Imagine what could have been
I recently discovered that my 12-year-old daughter had visited an off-limits website on her computer.
When I questioned her about it, she hemmed and hawed and finally answered, "I forgot."
A bald-faced lie if ever I'd heard one.
Calmly I continued to question her.
"Did you really forget? Is that the truth, or is that a lie?"
She cracked under the pressure.
"It's a lie. I didn't forget."
Owning it aloud was the first consequence. The second was losing access to her computer until further notice. But, the true lesson came after we'd prayed together and I asked her to imagine how her evening would have been different had she chosen to obey instead of disobeying and lying about it.
She imagined aloud what it would have been like to play in the pool — her conscience clear, her relationship with her Savior and her parents unblemished. Instead, she sat in a chair, heart pounding and stomach churning, her computer access stripped, her integrity damaged.
It was clear that she got the picture: Sin only leads to heartache and more sin.
Copyright © 2011 by Cathy Baker, Kim Galgano and Lori Stafford. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com
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