My husband John and I were talking last night and we talked about our parenting. He was telling me how it had surprised him that I could be a tough disciplinarian when needed. Finding the balance between loving and discipline is such a tough thing for a parent.
This morning, I’ve been thinking about one of those moments. Our daughter was between 3 and 4 years old and we were eating on the run. I had made burgers for lunch and there was some reason she didn’t eat with the rest of us. Maybe she had been napping – I don’t exactly recall. I remember cutting her burger into 4 pieces and giving it to her. What she really wanted was one of those Little Debbie Strawberry Shortcakes. I’ve said it before — Little Debbie’s are the devil! She asked if she could have one a few minutes later and I asked her if she ate her burger. She said yes so I gave her a Little Debbie. I went back to what I was doing, but something wasn’t sitting right with me. I went to our kitchen garbage can and there sat the uneaten burger.
I was furious. I talked with her about lying but she just looked at me. Then I said that we could go get some ice cream. She was so happy and went to get her shoes, then I told her that I was lying we weren’t going. She cried and I told her that now she knew what it felt like to be lied to. She cried more and told me she was sorry and that she loved me.
This moment. This was where I became tough and this is where the life lesson set in for her. I looked at her and asked her, “how do I know you aren’t lying now?” The look on her face still haunts me some. I went on to explain that once you have lied, even a little lie, people can’t trust that what you are saying is true. I told her that I never wanted her to lie again.
I will say, try as she might, she has not been a good liar since– she is desperately honest even about surprises and gifts. She still talks about that Little Debbie event and how bad she felt. I hate that she felt bad, but I’m glad the lesson sank in. I might do this with more compassion if it were to happen today. I would leave out the ice cream part, but I think, upon reflection, that probably the most important part of the lesson was the bit about trust.
What I love about this is not just that my daughter is so honest, but she struggles to deal with dishonesty of others. She’s had friends lie to her and we’ve had discussions about the reasons why. I know, though, that she struggles to trust them again, just as I have trouble trusting someone after they have lied to me.
I’d rather see someone admit to something terrible than to lie about it. Once I see the fallacy, even over something little, like the definition of a phrase or the when a law became a law, I have no trust in anything that person says.