One of the most vivid childhood recollection I have was getting in trouble for supposedly taking money. It was such a meager amount (less than $1 converted in Philippine Peso). I was practically ‘interrogated’ for what felt like eternity (maybe an hour or two in reality). I swore I did not take the money but to end the ‘interrogation’, I finally said I did. When asked why I took the money, I said I did because I wanted to buy chips.
I was ‘ordered’ to swear never to do it again. And in compliance I said, “I’m sorry, I will not do it again.” And just like that… the interrogation ended! The agony stopped. I felt relieved.
I would encounter many more of these situations growing up. Thus, I lied plenty of times. I opted to seek forgiveness for mistakes I didn’t do and opted to lie about things I actually did. It was easier.
Just to be clear – I was not taught to lie. I was taught at home, in Church, and in school to tell the truth. Nothing but. I lied because I wanted to avoid pain. That was my unfortunate logic.
Now that I have kids of my own, that vivid childhood memory profoundly guides me. I have found myself many times in situations where I am asking Oliver to tell me the truth. In some situations, I can almost guarantee my child is lying to me. But as I look into his scared and teary eyes, I hold myself back. Although it takes every inch of my patience, I do my best to restrain myself.
I’ve made a promise to Oliver. I will trust him until he breaks my trust. He’s only six and so he will make many more mistakes before he truly comprehends the enormity of the promise I made.
I still find myself saying things like “Tell me the truth!’ or “Are you sure you’re not lying to me?” and he’ll respond with “Mommy, I am telling you the truth!” or “Why wouldn’t you believe me Mommy?”
And each time, I am reminded of the money I never stole and the chips I never bought.
I don’t want Oliver to grow up learning that lie is a convenient truth. I don’t want him to opt for the same route I opted. I want him to learn that while consequences for doing the wrong thing may be painful, it is all right. The consequences are for doing the wrong thing, not for telling the truth. Telling the truth is a good thing. And even when no one believes you when you are telling the truth, don’t back down. Don’t give in and lie.
I don’t want to be the parent who inadvertently teaches my child to lie.