As a kid, I was always fearful of my father’s reaction. It was not uncommon for him to blow up or rant over mistakes I made, or messes I created. There were afternoons, before he came home from work, that I remember studying the clock to see how much time I had to get my act together before he arrived home.
I hated the lectures and rants. He would question, and question, and lecture, and question, and lecture, and question, and not give me the chance to answer, so I would lie. I did this because I just wanted it to stop and I knew that if I told the truth, he would just become angrier and lecture all the more.
The other night as I lectured, and questioned, and lectured, and questioned, and he lied to my face, reality hit me. I saw me, at his age, in him and I saw my father in me. I demanded that he tell me why he lied, but he couldn’t answer. He was lying because he was afraid of my reaction and tired of being lectured. It suddenly made sense.
If I’m being transparent, there are so many times when I don’t allow my children to get a word in edgewise. I am so bent on proving my point, and making sure “they understand where I’m coming from” that I bulldoze over them, leaving them tired and frustrated. My harsh tone and questioning, without allowing an answer, pushes them to lie just to get out of the situation in many circumstances. It’s flight by definition.
I believe as parents, our reaction, demeanor, and tone when discipline and correction occur with our children, determine so much of the outcome. We cause our children to lie, or attempt to fly away, if our reaction is to lecture or rant. Whether or not we are calm or harsh, is also teaching them how to behave someday when they are parents and they have to discipline their children. My goal for my children is honesty. But I need to keep my own emotions and frustrations in check.
If I’m known to always blow up or launch into rants when they do something wrong, of course they will feel pushed into lying or covering up the truth. On the other hand, if I am patient and calm, but firm, they will feel that they can tell the truth and honestly own their mistakes.
It’s absolutely not okay to lie! That’s not what I’m saying at all. And my son needs to tell the truth and take responsibility for his actions, regardless of the situation! But I need to check my own spirit. I need to do some self-examining and evaluate my reaction, my approach, and my presence. Perhaps if I kept my cool, and stayed a little more calm, my son wouldn’t feel the need to lie? Perhaps if I created more of an environment that felt safe, and not as if a bomb were about to go off, he would not feel pushed into a corner?
I don’t want my behavior as an adult, or a parent, to cause my children to lie. I don’t want them to feel the need to escape. I want them to feel safe and able to speak truthfully. If they still choose to lie, that’s on them. But it’s on me to handle them with patience and peace regardless!
Is your reaction, or tone, causing your children to react in a way that is dishonest? What do you need to do differently?