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I’m your host AMBrewster, and today we celebrate our 6th year podcasting and our 500th episode by starting a conversation about Parenting a Lying Child.
Over the past 6 years from time to time someone will write TeamTLP asking for a podcast episode about lying. This topic also comes up quite frequently as I’m counseling parents.
So, now I’m happy to announce that we’re going to take 4 episodes to get the ball rolling on this prevalent and deeply-rooted issue.
But before I do that, I want to thank you for investing your time in Truth.Love.Family. and our podcast, Truth.Love.Parent. Truth.Love.Family was created in 2016 as something I did in my free time, and —since then — your faithful listening and sharing of these episodes has helped it grow and reach people all over the world.
But we’re still very much a fledgling ministry. I started working full time on this in 2020, but for the first year and a half, I received no paycheck as I got the non-profit up and running. From then on I’ve been receiving a monthly paycheck of $500.
Needless to say, if it weren’t for the sacrificial care of my parents who let my family live in their home rent free and the blessing of social services, I would have had to walk away from this endeavor a long time ago. But God has been providing my family’s daily needs, and so I continue working to help Truth.Love.Family. become a sustainable ministry.
Our ultimate goal is to receive all of our income through charitable contributions and then turn around and give all our resources and counseling away for free to anyone who wants or needs it. But right now, we only receive a little over $1,000 a month. Though that money helps us pay TLP’s basic bills, it doesn’t support my family, and it doesn’t gives us the financial capital necessary to grow.
So, right here, before we start this free, four-week training course in parenting lying children, will you please seriously consider donating to our ministry? It may be a one-time gift or it may be a monthly contribution of any amount. Regardless of the frequency and the size, we desperately need it, because if something doesn’t change soon, the unfortunate reality is that I’m going to have to consider other alternatives for employment, and these free resources may disappear.
But I have faith that the Lord still wants to use this ministry. I believe we are making a difference for the Kingdom of God. And I know that if TLP is truly valuable to our listeners, they can be used by God to not only support me and my family, but also reach more and more families with the transforming power of His Word.
Will you please consider becoming a TLP Friend?
Thank you for your patience as I talk about the one thing I don’t even like mentioning — money. But it’s important. It’s helpful for you to know our needs, because you may be able to help, or you may know someone who can. Just visit TruthLoveParent.com/donate or click the TLP Friend link in the description.
And while you’re at TruthLoveParent.com, please take advantage of our free episode notes, transcript, and related resources.
And now, let’s delve into parenting lying children.
This episode is going to function as an introduction to the series as well as the first main topic we want to discuss.
So, by way of introduction, I think it’s pretty fair to say that if our kids can talk, all of us have been lied to at one point or another. That lie may have been a deliberate attempt to deceive or it may be a result of their own self-deception, but it’s a lie nonetheless.
I remember clearly the first time my son told a bold-face lie. He and his sister were playing in his room, and she started crying. She was very young at the time, too young to communicate anything other than single words, so when I went in, I asked Micah what happened. He said that she bumped her head.
I thought, “Sounds reasonable,” and she had already settled down, so I turned to leave. But as I turned, I casually recognized that there really wasn’t much at her disposal on which to bump her head. And I clearly remember almost not asking the question I was about to ask, but — out of sheer curiosity — I asked, “On what did she bump her head?”
What came next was a convoluted and completely improbable story about how she bumped her head on something that was so high off the ground, she would never have been able to reach it with her hands let alone her head.
And I instantly realized my son had failed to create a realistic story to cover up what really happened. Come to find out — and I know this might surprise some of you — he eventually admitted to hitting her with a toy.
He was probably 4 or 5 at this point.
And — like I said — you’ve probably experienced this as well, but if you’re more than superficially interested in this series, it’s not because your 5 year old told their first lie. In fact, you probably handled the first and second and third lies really well.
Most likely, though, you’re interested in this series because you have a habitual liar. You have a child in your home who it’s become hard for you to distinguish between what’s real and what’s false. Perhaps you’re at your wits end or you foresee that you’ll be there before you know it.
Maybe you can’t even understand why your child lies there way they do — they never seem to get away with it, and yet they simply won’t stop lying.
So, before we get any further, please allow me to suggest three other resources that will be helpful for parenting children like I’ve just described. All of these are TLP series, and I’ll have the links in the description of today’s episode for each.
The first is called “Anti-Terrorism for Your Home,” the second is “Parenting a Zombie,” and the third is called “The Merest Christianity.” Each of those will deal with the specific needs of children who — among other things — are habitual liars.
But whether your kids lie as often as the breath, or you want to be prepared to help them when they tell their first lie, let’s start by understanding . . .
1. The Nature of Lying
We have to acknowledge that . . .
A. Lies don’t exist if truth doesn’t exist.
We have to start with this because if I were to say that lies are the opposite of truth, there are those who would immediately attack the idea of truth. If you’re listening to this podcast, I doubt that describes you, but we absolutely have to start here nonetheless. Liars don’t submit to truth, but for something to be a lie, truth has to exist, and if truth exists, there are significant implications in all of our lives.
In Part 1 of our Teach Your Children to Obey Series, we talk about the fact that there is no right or wrong if there is no God. But if God is Who He says He is, then absolute truth absolutely exists. So, then, if truth exists . . .
B. Lies are the opposite of truth.
I know this doesn’t sound especially shocking, but I promise you that we don’t understand this point the way we should.
Yes, according to Merriam-Webster, the first definition of the verb lie is “to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive.” Of course, that’s a lie. It’s an untrue statement. However, their second definition of the verb lie is “to create a false or misleading impression.”
And the second definition of the noun lie is “an untrue or inaccurate statement that may or may not be believed true by the speaker or writer.”
If we limit our definition of lying to deliberate attempts to knowingly deceive, we’re setting ourselves and our kids up for disaster. And I’m going to discuss the danger of this point in a few minutes.
For now, though, let’s agree that if something is untrue — whether the person lying believes it’s true or not — it’s a falsehood. It’s not truth.
Now, let’s take these two points and extrapolate the third. If truth exists because God exists, and lies are the opposite of truth, then . . .
C. Lies exist because sin exists.
In fact, we could say that lies are not merely the natural outcome of sin, they are the very root of all sin.
In John 8:41, shortly after Jesus said, “The truth will make you free.” We encounter a group of Jews debating with Jesus, and — like most debaters who find themselves losing — they resort to name calling.
Jesus had just suggested that their deeds were the same as their father’s deeds, but He didn’t specify who their father was, and in verse 41 they shoot back, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.”
You see, since Jesus was born of a virgin, from before He ever saw the light of day in human form, rumors had been swirling about the young girl Mary who had become pregnant before marriage. And it seems those rumors had followed Jesus into adulthood because they are now being thrown into His face.
But pay close attention to Jesus’ response. He doesn’t actually even address the falsehood that He was conceived in fornication. Instead, He says, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.”
Now, it is completely inappropriate to view Satan as God’s opposite. God and Satan and not yin and yang. Satan is a created being. But Jesus sets him up as the father of lies because he was the first to believe a lie and to tell a lie, but — unlike humanity — Satan is not merely completely depraved, he works out that wickedness in full. So, he was both the first liar as well as the most depraved liar. This makes him the father of lies and liars. Therefore, Jesus refers to Satan as the Jews’ father because they act just like him.
Now, I just claimed that Satan was the first to lie, and I think we all recognize that. But I also said he was the first to believe a lie. What lie was that, and from where did it come? Satan believed that he could exalt himself to God’s status. We can only assume from the Scriptural account that this lie started first in Satan’s own heart, but he clearly was not aware of the impossibility of the falsehood, because he acted on it. Satan’s own self-deception is the very genesis of all lies.
Let’s put this into human terms. In our Merest Christianity Series we discovered that we do what we do because we believe what we believe. If I believe there is no God, then I will live accordingly. If I live as though I’m the god of my life, it’s because I believe it to be so. Therefore, falsehood lies at the root of all sin. Believing a lie is the first step to sin. All sin grows from delusion.
In Jeremiah 10:8, referring to people who worship an idol as though it were a god, Jeremiah says, “They are altogether stupid and foolish in their discipline of delusion—their idol is wood!”
The Hebrew word translated “stupid” refers to being senseless. This word translated “foolish” only appears one time in the whole Bible and refers to becoming stupid. And the word translated “delusion” is also translated fraud, futile, vain, vanity, worthless, empty, and many others.
In Romans 1:21-23 we read, “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile [vain, foolish] in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.”
They rejected the truth and believed a lie. And the lie lead not only to worshipping false gods, it also lead to all manner of wickedness.
Verses 28 through the end of the chapter says, “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.”
They practice such things and encourage others to do the same despite the fact that they know what the Bible says about God . . . because they don’t believe what they know.
So, lies, falsehood, and deceit are the very root of all sin. That is the liar’s problem. Everyone who lies has first believed any number of lies. In fact, it’s impossible to lie without first believing at least one lie. Whether they are deliberately deceiving or they are deluded, it’s the result of their falling into the delusion that a falsehood is reality.
This is the reality of the liar and the lie.
And now, I want to spend the remainder of our time talking about how we parents so often actually make it easy for our kids to lie. I would even go so far as to say that we teach our children to lie.
Why do I have to start here? Well, if you try to biblically address your children’s lying without recognizing the hypocritical ways you actually encourage them in their lying, you’re only going to cause more problems. We have to start with the log in our own eyes first.
2. How We Teach Our Kids to Lie
A. We tell our kids to lie.
Yes, there are thieves and miscreants who actually and unashamedly encourage people to lie in the worst ways. They obviously fall under this category.
But hopefully most of us can’t be described that way. However, I’m sure if we stopped and thought carefully, and if we were completely honest with ourselves, we might be able to remember at least one time where we encouraged our kids to give a false impression about something.
It may have to do with their homework, family finances, dad and mom’s relationship, someone’s health, someone’s outfit, or any number of things from seemingly innocuous to downright harmful.
“Mom, I hate that girl and don’t want to invite her to my party!”
“You are going to walk up to her in school tomorrow, and you are going to say, ‘I’d love it if you came to my party on Friday.’”
We’re so focused on trying to help our daughter learn about the love of God and exercise it in her relationships, that — without thinking about it — we counsel her to lie.
When I worked at Victory Academy for Boys, a home for at risk teens, I would regularly encourage my guys not to sing when we were in church. If they refuse to submit to God every other moment of the week, there is no value in lying as they sing about Amazing Grace or trusting God or vowing to grow in Christlikeness or loving Jesus.
But even worse than literally telling our kids to say something that’s not true . . .
B. We lie.
We don’t just teach our kids how to live by telling them what to do. We teach them how to live by modeling for them how to live.
Ron Hamilton used to say, “Your talk talks, and your walk talks, but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.”
What that means is “how you live speaks volumes more than how you talk.” It’s why “Do as I say and not as I do,” never works.
First, our children see us lie to deceive.
That’s right — you lie. You’ve lied to your kids, and you lie in front of your kids. Maybe you’ve told your kids that Santa Claus is real, that all the ice cream or Halloween candy is gone, that their drawing is the most beautiful picture in the world, that they can do anything they put their mind to, or that you will always be there to protect them from the monsters under their bed. Either way, you lied, and — quite often — your kids either know you were lying or will one day know that you lied.
Second, our children see us lie because we’re deceived.
We tell our kids that their teacher has it out for them, that God just wants us to be happy, that it’s okay to bad mouth a president for whom we didn’t vote, that daddy and mommy fell out of love, that if someone hits you, you should hit them back, and that people never change.
And we make truth claims all the time without really knowing if what we’re saying is true — don’t worry, it’s not going to rain (but it does), you’re going to win first place (but they don’t), it’s in your closet where I put it (but you forgot that you got sidetracked and never got around to putting it in their closet), and because you’re a Christian, you’re going to go to heaven when you die (but the child isn’t really born again).
And every time we model for our kids that it’s okay to deliberately or unintentionally say things that aren’t true — as long as it fits our purposes — you never actually have to tell them it’s okay to lie. They’ll learn it just fine.
But we also teach our kids to lie by . . .
C. We don’t deal with our children’s lies the way we should.
Now, I’m not taking about the lies your kids tell that you will never be able to prove one way or the other. We’re not God, and often times our kids will lie, and though we believe with all of our hearts what they’re saying is not true, there’s no way to prove it. I’m not talking about that.
I’m taking about . . .
1. We don’t do our due diligence to keep our kids accountable.
Sometimes we do this because we’re ignorant. I almost fell into this with my first personal illustration. We may be ignorant of the fact that our 4 or 5 year old may be newly experimenting with telling lies to cover up the fact that he just hit his sister in the head.
Some personalities can’t bring themselves to consider for a moment that someone would lie to them, so since that eventuality is a million miles away for them, they’re not even thinking that they need to ask some important followups.
Sometimes we don’t deal with our children’s lies because of ignorance, but sometimes it’s pure laziness.
Let’s say that I had to walk away from a project or my favorite show or a thrilling ball game to check on my kids. My son tells me she bumped her head, my daughter is calming down, and though I know the last time this happened, my son lied to me, I just really don’t want to deal with that right now. I want to get back to what I was doing, and everything looks fine. I don’t go down that rabbit hole right now.
Now, don’t you pretend you’ve never done that. I’m sad to say I have, and that all of the parents with whom I work have done it too.
But when we don’t deal with our kids’ lies by pushing for truth and keeping them accountable, we’re allowing them to believe that lying has value. It allows them to stay out of trouble or get something they want.
So, we often won’t keep our kids accountable to the truth, but . . .
2. We don’t give appropriate Secondary Consequences when we know our kids have deliberately lied.
Just like our last point, sometimes we do this because of ignorance — we don’t know how to deal with the issue, so we don’t. This is one big reason we just finished our Consequences Series. Too many parents are paralyzed when it comes to giving consequences. They have no idea what to do, so they don’t do anything.
But others of us are just lazy. It’s not that the child might be lying, and we need to keep them accountable, we know the child is lying, but we just don’t want to deal with it.
Sometimes it’s ignorance, and sometimes it’s laziness, but other times it’s fear. Some parents are so incredibly afraid of what their kid will do if they confront them about their lies, that they jus let the lie go.
But — even though it may be hard to hear — this is just another variant of laziness. Yes, we feel the adrenaline, yes, we imagine all the things that could go south, and we feel a knot in our stomachs, but the reality is that we’re disinclined to have to endure whatever may come from confronting our children. And that, my friends, is the dictionary definition of laziness. Laziness is “disinclined to activity or exertion.” But notice that the motivation for the disinclination isn’t given. It’s not just that I don’t like manual labor, or I’d rather play a video game. I can be disinclined to exert my parental authority because I’m afraid. “I don’t like confrontation, and I’d rather not be persecuted by my child.”
But when we don’t give our kids appropriate consequences when they deliberately lie, we’re the ones lying. We’re lying to our kids about how life works. We’re lying to them about the destructive nature of sin, we’re lying to them about the supposed benefit of lying.
By not keeping our kids accountable to the truth, and by not giving them appropriate consequences when they’re caught in deception, we’re giving them pragmatic reasons to lie — bad reasons, but seductive reasons.
Now, our last point is actually one of the worst ways that we teach our kids it’s okay to lie. This one happens more often than the other two, and it starts far earlier in the child’s life. It’s worse because it’s sneaky, and it has the potential of pervading any area in our lives.
But before I say what the issue is, I want to connect it to a larger problem in our society.
Somewhere along the line — as a culture — we gave in to the notion that a deliberate falsehood can be good.
For example, I really like the 1994 remake of “Miracle on 34th Street,” but there’s one line that I absolutely despise. Toward the end of the movie, the lawyer representing Santa Clause says to the judge, “Which is worse: a lie that draws a smile or a truth that draws a tear?”
Well, his supposed “feel-good” justification for the judge to rule that Santa Claus was a real person could not be any more unbiblical and wicked. But this argument is very socially acceptable. People actually believe it’s advisable to say things that are untrue so as to either make people feel good or avoid making them feel bad — thereby removing potential conflict from the relationship.
Of course, there are many reasons that the average worldling will try to justify their lies, but there are also millions of Christians who also believe it’s okay to say things they know are untrue. How did they come to this point?
The answer — in part — has to do with our overall comfort for falsehood. If we don’t see a problem with an unintentional falsehood, then an intentional falsehood that intentionally hopes to preserve someone’s feelings can’t be all bad.
You see, it’s very likely that your children engage in intentional deception because they became so comfortable in unintentional deception.
3. We allow our kids to continue in self-deception.
I have found over and over again that too many Christian parents don’t address falsehoods as long as the child didn’t intended to deceive. The untrue statements are viewed as mere mistakes or a misinterpretation or they’re excused away in some other manner. It’s only when the child knowingly lies that the parent sees it as a problem.
And I get it. Intentional deception has an additional layer to it —it’s not just that my child is believing something to be untrue, but they now want to weaponize that falsehood against me.
But can’t you see the problem? Why is falsehood only an issue when our kids are deliberately using it to attack us? God says that we shouldn’t bear false witness . . . period. That includes intentional false witness as well as unintentional false witness. It doesn’t matter why I said what I said, if I tell the judge that I saw you robbing the bank yesterday — even though I may have been legitimately mistaken — I have born false witness, and you may likely do jail time because of my lie.
Every time we see our children believing a lie, and we don’t correct their thinking, we’re teaching our children to embrace falsehood. Since every intentional deception starts with self-deception, when we allow our kids to continue in self-deception, we’re setting up our children to embrace intentional lying and every other sin that grows from self-deception . . . and that would be all of them.
And — just like the other ways we teach our kids that lying isn’t so bad — we teach our kids that self-deception is okay because of ignorance and laziness.
Up until now, you may not have ever considered the fact that allowing your kids to say things that are untrue is supremely dangerous — even if they’re convinced of its veracity.
But sometimes we ourselves are ignorant of the fact that what the child is saying isn’t true. Our kids tell us their friend hates them, and we believe the deception with no more consideration than our kids did. They tell us their teacher “never said” there would be a quiz, and we accept the delusion without an ounce of discernment applied to the situation.
We would do well to adopt Ronald Reagan’s “trust and verify” mentality. I’m not telling you to dismiss the fact that your child honestly believes the teacher gave them a pop-test because they hate the whole class and want to see them all fail, but do your due diligence to verify what is actually true.
For example, I work with many at-risk teens, and I’ve heard them say all sorts of terrible things about their parents. As a mandatory reporter, I am required to report things like abuse, but when a child believes that making them go to church is abuse, I’d better get the facts straight before calling 911.
On the other hand, sometimes we allow our kids to say things that are untrue because we’re lazy. We tell our son to make his bed, and he whines “I can’t!” and we — knowing full well he can make his bed — ignore the false statement because all we want if for him to make his bed, not engage in a grammatical conversation about the meaning of the word “can’t.”
But this is so dangerous. When we do this, we’re allowing our children to create their own realities without any challenges. This my friends is the historical definition of insanity. When someone consistently cannot distinguish between fantasy and reality, that person is in danger.
Now, some of the examples I’ve given may not seem to be that big of a deal to you. But the only reason we think that way is our culture finds it acceptable to not hold people accountable for misinterpreting something and then functioning as if their interpretation were correct.
You can be whatever sex you want. You can marry anyone you want. You can murder people in the womb if you want. You can live a godless life if you want.
People who would do such things are living in a fantasy world, and they’ve not been held accountable for their self-deceptions for decades.
And, biblically speaking, since they’re not thinking or living in line with truth, they’re not free from the bonds of sin. Falsehood condemns us.
There is no way for a child to correctly relate to a loving teacher if the child is convinced the teacher hates them.
How unjust and unloving am I, the parent, if I repeatedly tell my child to do something they believe they legitimately cannot accomplish without help from me?
How hateful am I being if I tell someone that they’re not allowed to pretend to be a boy if they’re a girl if they believe that they’re a boy trapped in a girl’s body?
We’re breaking our children’s metaphorical legs if we allow them to believe that words are violence. They’ll never be able to function in a society unless everyone’s language is properly policed.
So, let me give you a personal example of how I handled one case of low-level self-deception.
At Victory Academy, the boys were required to assist in house chores. Everyone did their part, and their weekly rotation included vacuuming.
Well, we had a young man who was terrible at pretty much all manual labor. He was unmotivated, had an awful work ethic, no desire to learn, and — like most immature children — was very unobservant.
So, after teaching him how I expected him to vacuum, I checked his job and found that he hadn’t done it at all the way he should.
I said to him, “You didn’t vacuum the floor.”
And he replied, “I did vacuum!”
Now, in all fairness, he wasn’t trying to deceive me. This boy was just so incredibly myopic and immature that he truly believed he had done as I asked.
So I said, “The problem is that your definition of vacuuming is wrong. Vacuuming isn’t ‘arbitrarily thrusting the vacuum onto random parts of the carpet for a length of time that feels long enough to you.’ You’re deceived if you think that a good vacuuming job works that way. Yes, I acknowledge that you may have moved the machine around on the floor, but you didn’t actually vacuum according to the definition you were given. From now on, if I ask if you if you vacuumed, you need to answer according to my definition of vacuuming, not yours.”
And that worked for a little, but he didn’t honestly care to remember anything that wasn’t important to him — he liked the self-delusion that whatever effort he put into it was good enough. So on his very next vacuuming I found that he had clearly missed a large portion of the rug — like, a third of it.
So, I told him, “Had you vacuumed every part of the carpet the way I instructed — whether you thought it looked dirty or not — you would have gone over this portion of the floor as well, and there’s no way all of this superficial dirt would still be here.”
But there was another problem that complicated his vacuuming. This boy was one of the most unobservant and superficial in the attention he would pay his chores. I believe with all my heart that he literally didn’t see that the floor was dirty. Like a child who accidentally hugs the wrong pair of legs because they didn’t look carefully to see if it was their parent, this boy was clueless.
So, I dealt with it by sprinkling baking soda all over the carpet before he would vacuum. And I made sure he was able to clearly see the stark difference between the white powder and the dark brown of the carpet.
And I told him that he wasn’t allowed to tell me that he had finished vacuuming until all of the baking soda was gone.
I’m telling you all of this because I want you to see that I was on this kid’s side. I wanted to set him up for success.
But — believe it or not — he would still tell me he was done vacuuming even though there was clearly visible baking soda on the floor. And — no — this wasn’t an eyesight issue. I thought it may have been for a while, but every time he was able to point out the remaining baking soda when I told him to.
So I explained that if he continued telling me he was done when there was still white stuff on the floor, he would not only have to re-vacuum the entire floor, but he would received demerits for lying.
Well, this blew his mind. He whined quite defensively, “I wasn’t lying! I thought I was done!”
So, I asked, “But were you actually done?”
He said, “No.”
So, I asked, “Was what you said true or false?”
And he grudgingly admitted that it wasn’t true.
So I said, “A lie is anything that is not true, whether you recognize it to be false or not. Jesus says that our yes’s need to be yes and our no’s need to be no, and we need to be very careful that if we make a promise that we follow through on that promise. In a very similar way, when I ask if the floor is vacuumed, if you respond without knowing the factual answer, at best you’re being a fool. At worst, you’re believing a lie and telling that lie to me. Therefore, before you’re allowed to tell me that you’re done vacuuming, you need to carefully check the whole floor to make sure all the baking soda is gone. And check carefully, because if you tell me you’re done, and there is still baking soda on the floor, you will receive a demerit for telling me something that isn’t true. . . whether you paid enough attention to realize it wasn’t true or not.”
Now, what I haven’t told you is that this boy did stuff like this all the time.
“Did you do your homework?”
“Did you brush your teeth?”
Did you take off your shoes?”
And while the shoes are still on his feet, he would say, “Yes.” And when I point at his feet, he was legitimately surprised to find shoes there.
Well, as I consistently applied this lesson to his life, this boy started to slow down and think before he answered. He realized that if he didn’t do his best to determine what was really true, there would be Secondary Consequences.
And this started to affect the way he related to people. Generally speaking, he had the impression that everyone was against him for unfair reasons. I mean, c’mon, if he always had his homework done and his shoes off and his vacuuming completed, but he kept getting demerits for not having done those things — the only answer is that everyone is out to get him.
But when he stopped being self-deceived about the reality of his life, he was able to take personal responsibility, he stopped feeling so defensive all the time, he stopped deliberately lying as much, and he related to everyone much better. It was truly amazing how far he came before he finished our program.
Now, if you’re uncertain how to go about communicating to your child that they’re living in a delusion, I have a resource suggestion that may help. If you’re not familiar with The Communication House, I highly recommend you listen to that episode. On that show I walk through the absolute reality that true communication cannot take place if one or more people in the conversation aren’t speaking truth. Truth is the foundational necessity in all valuable communication.
I also did an episode called “Revolving Priorities” that teaches parents to focus on the deepest issues in any given situation without being sidetracked by the less important topics.
To wrap up this point, we are doing our kids a massive disservice when we allow them to speak their own reality into fictional existence. We’re setting them up for failure — not just by making it easier for them to start deliberately lying in the future, but also in every relationship they ever have. You can’t have a close, thriving relationship with someone who can’t function in reality.
And — most damning of all — is that children who are allowed to continue in self-deception are not doing so to the glory of God. They aren’t pleasing Him as they believe lies. They aren’t maturing in their sanctification as they convince themselves of their delusion.
So, we teach our kids to lie by actually telling them to lie, by modeling it for them, and by not dealing with their deception. And we don’t deal with their lies when we don’t keep them accountable to the truth, give them consequences for their deliberate lies, and allow them to remain self-deceived.
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that our kids will not be able to shift the blame of their sin onto us. They are responsible to God for their own choices. But we’re responsible to God for ours. We may not be responsible for our kids’ lies, but we are responsible for tacitly convincing our kids that lying is okay.
Please share this episode on your favorite social media outlets, and join us next time as we open God’s Word to discover how to best worship God with our parenting.
To that end, we’ll be discussing how to catch a liar.
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