Parenting Perspectives: Honesty

Parenting is hard. Kids don’t come with how-to manuals. And when it comes to parenting our kids, one size does not fit all. All clichés. And all-too true. This new column, “Parenting Perspectives,” will explore various parenting topics from the perspective of two parents (maybe not always Mom, sometimes Dad will chime in!) who are at different stages in their parenting career.

This month, Lisa and Willy both explore the topic of honesty. Lisa is a mom to a 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son. Willy is a dad to four children (one girl and three boys), ages 8, 10, 12, and 14.

(By Lisa S.T. Doss)

My four-year-old daughter is undeniably a daddy’s girl. Perhaps, it is because she is accustomed to their evening ritual; but, the moment he arrives home she is running into his arms and divulging her news of the day, bad or good. To my surprise, she will tell him the finer details that I have yet to hear. I often wonder if this is a “super power” of all dads. Despite the few weekday hours she is able to spend with him, he takes the time to praise her good deeds, show forgiveness when she is wrong, and remind her that tomorrow can be a better day. In the life of a young child, “trust” has become her first “value.”

What I believed about parenting prior to the birth of my daughter is quite different than my thoughts and feelings today. (Having a relaxed second child, a son, helped immensely, too!) There is so much that goes into our decisions! Reading, discussing, considering our child’s personality and then trying a variety of strategies. Talking with other parents always adds to the mix, too! With the values of honesty, respect, friendship and kindness, the lessons are straightforward.

Our daughter is still learning about the virtues of honesty. She believes in fairies, has conversations with her Pooh bear and dinosaur, George; so, I think we still have a ways to go before real “teachable moments” can be understood. And, when in doubt, her story has changed to blame her 22-month old little brother for a variety of things, which was 100% truthful. Just recently, I used and defined the words “honesty” and “truthfulness.” These are not concrete words for a child of four. It’s fun when at this stage of parenting, games like “real” and “not real” can introduce very important concepts. At times, I wonder who is learning more?

(By Willy Minnix)

Sometimes, it seems like lying is much easier than actually telling the truth. My wife and I try to teach our kids that honesty is a long-term solution to short-term problems. To look at it another way, lying often presents itself as a short-term solution to problems that we face in life, but in the end the lies stack up and the person who reverts to lying ends up telling more lies to cover up their tracks, only to find that they have to tell more lies, and more lies, until it snowballs and overwhelms them.

By focusing on honesty from the start, integrity becomes a long term solution to the short-term problems. If you put in the hard work to build a reputation as a person of integrity in all of the small details, then you will be rewarded with respect. Some people might not always like your integrity, but in the end they will respect you.

I graduated from a Quaker college, and Quakers call themselves “the Friends.” But “Friends” is a shortened form of the phrase “The Society of Friends of the Truth.” George Fox, the founder of the Quakers, put such a high regard on truth that he labeled his group “Friends of Truth.” If we had more honesty in our society, we would have more role models to look up to, more people to respect, and more people holding up a banner that our kids can aspire to in their lives.