You want your Child to be Honest but are You?

Do you have House Rules? Not the ones that say what time the kids should go to bed but the sort of House Rules that say how the family members should treat each other. House Rules for everyone to follow.  It is over 3 months since I moved in with my ex husband, Alf, and his children but last week I found myself creating a set of House Rules with Alf’s 7 year old daughter, Lilli. We only have 4 rules so far and to be honest I do not think there should be many more. Here are our rules…

(CP) House Ruleg.

Now as you can see number 2 on the list is BE HONEST. Most Parents want to see this rule on the list. I have only once had a parent question it. This particular Dad thought it would be a hard rule to keep. You may be smiling at that comment but he is right. How many times in a day do we tell a little white lie so that we don’t upset someone? We say thank you for a present which we really don’t like, we agree to go out with a friend when we really want to stay home, we lie about the price of a pair of shoes, etc etc. Sadly we do it all the time. Being honest isn’t easy.

I followed a chat room thread on Mumsnet once which was about telling white lies to very young children. You know the sort, things like…only Granny has the magic coins for the ride outside the supermarket! What surprised me was the number of Mums regularly telling ‘harmless’ lies to their children. Of course there were a couple of Mums who were outraged by all of this and the discussion got very heated and in places quite personal. What concerns me is that children learn by watching so if we want them to be honest we have to set a good example. Trust is built on honesty and the 2 people who children trust more than anyone are their parents. Up to the age of 6 children will not question the truth of what you are saying. They take it all in like little sponges. When they are older and find out that Mum or Dad has lied to them they get very upset.

Sometimes you may not even realise that what you are saying is being interpreted as a lie. I worked with one Mum who when she was angry made threats of huge consequences for naughty behaviour. When  she calmed down she never carried out any of the threats. This was interpreted as telling lies by her 9 year old.

So are you honest? Are you brave enough to put yourself to the test? Neale Donald Walsh, one of my favourite mentors, says there are 5 levels of honesty.

  1. Level one is telling the truth about yourself to yourself.
  2. Level two is telling the truth about yourself to another.
  3. Level three is telling the truth about another to yourself.
  4. Level four is telling the truth about another to that other.
  5. Level five is when you can always do all the previous levels 

Now none of these are easy and I am not suggesting you have to be this honest all the time. I used to be proud to think I was an honest person but I quickly learned that wasn’t always the case. When I got divorced I was sad to think that after 30 years together Alf didn’t really know me. At the time I thought that was his fault!! However I have learned a lot in the last 10 years and one of my biggest shocks was this. Alf didn’t know me because I was not honest about who I am. I held back so many times. I held back to protect me. I held back to keep the peace. I became the person he wanted me to be, the person he thought I was. And so him not knowing me turned out to be my fault not his!!

We have come a long way since then but Honesty has become one of my main values in life. My closest friends are people that I know will be totally honest with me. In fact I love people who speak their truth as long as they share their thoughts in a kind way.  I am not suggesting you have to wear your heart on your sleeve and be blatantly honest with everyone.  I would like to suggest that you take a step back and observe  yourself for a day or a week. How many times do you lie to your children?  Do you lie sometimes because you don’t like saying no? Do you lie sometimes because the truth would hurt them? Are you showing them what it looks like when you live life as an honest person?