The Truth About Little While Lies: Teaching Children Honesty


As sages we know that none of us go through our lives without telling fibs or “little white lies.” We may do this so we don't hurt a friend’s feelings or because we may want to hide a bill from our husband... The “value of truth” must be taught to our children and grandchildren. This becomes part of our children’s moral compass. Our obligation, as you well know, is to teach our children and grandchildren the value of honesty. The question is: how do we do this?

Tell a true story. Don’t tell a fairytale! A fairytale is not true. Talk to your children or grandchildren about a real life hero or heroine who was caught doing something wrong and has the courage (although afraid) to tell the truth. Sound good to you? This is the approach my mother used when she taught my brother and I to value truth. My mom told my brother and I the story of George Washington when she caught us fibbing. I have never forgotten her teaching. Nor has my brother. My mother told us “he was a hero and the first president of the United States of America.” This got our attention. We wanted to know more. She went on to tell us how scared George was to admit to his father he chopped down the cherry tree. But, dear children of mine, she went on to say, “he looked at his father and as scared as he was of his misdeed he had courage to face his father and tell the truth!” She went on to teach us to do the right thing so we would not have to think of telling a lie and feeling guilt ridden. A true story about a real person, who had the courage to tell the truth is a far better approach explaining the importance of the value of truth than a story about a puppet whose nose grows from telling a lie.

If you think about it a fairy tale is not true! Pinocchio, an imagined character, displays bratty and selfish traits-not positive ones like the first president of the United States, George Washington.

Let’s take this one step further. Your child tells you the “truth” about a wrongdoing. Let’s use grades as the topic. Your child tells you he got a bad grade. It takes all of his courage to fess up. My suggestion is to praise the fact that he had courage to tell the truth. Please don’t yell. Sit down together and work out a way to improve his grades. You are molding his character and teaching him the value of truth. On the other hand, if he “lies” about his grades punish him by taking away his phone or iPad or a privilege. His wrongful action constitutes unacceptable behavior. This is the appropriate way of molding your child or grandchild into becoming an honest person.

Do Something GOOD Today: Teach your children or grandchildren the value of the truth.