Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Truth/Lies...Accuracy, Honesty...Love

Welcome to the February 2013 Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Honesty This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by Authentic Parenting and Living Peacefully with Children. This month our participants have written about authenticity through honesty. We hope you enjoy this month's posts and consider joining us next month when we share about Self-Expression and Conformity. ***  

I've lied a few times.  It hasn't ever felt good.  I can still think of the last time I really lied, the word "NO!" blurting out of my mouth faster than I had time to even process the question and think about the potential repercussions...and then feeling silly for having answered with a blurt instead of a simple and honest 'yes', feeling guilty and weak for never righting that lie.  

I don't lie to my kids.  It's really important to me that I make accurate statements, that my truth is portrayed as my truth and not THE truth, that I don't put words into other people's mouths and that I let my kids know when I plain and simple just don't know the answer.

They've been asking about fibbing.  We like a song from They Might Be Giants called 'Fibber Island', and the kids started asking what it meant.  We'd talked about lying (intentional deceit), tall tales (stories with exaggerations), pretend, imagination, fairy tales and fantasy, but we hadn't discussed fibbing.  Shoot.  How was I going to do this?  

I actually think lying is not a big deal.  It's a symptom of a greater problem, a disconnect, a desire to please a parent or whoever.  The fear of rejection for telling their truth, the fear of displeasing is greater than the desire to share one's own truth, and there grows the lie.  If we can address the fear, if there's no fear of love withdrawal or fear of repercussion, emotional trauma, rejection, physical harm, then there's no reason to lie.  My kids tell on themselves all the time; my mom thinks it's really funny, but I keep telling her they have no fear of my reaction, they never wonder if I'll love them less (even if I get angry), they never fear getting hit, they just know that I'll want to know so that we can take care of whatever the thing was, like drawing on the wall, putting stickers on the chairs, biting the other one, stepping on Dragon's hand, whatever it was.  One of my favorite parenting people, Scott Noelle, from explains it much better than I did or can.  I understand it can be tricky to know if a statement is a lie, but that's not what this post is about.

I've really tried to help instill in my children a desire to discern between accurate statements and statements that are not accurate.  I don't like the word 'truth', and it really bothers me when I hear kids other kids, "That's not the truth!" or something like that.  When one of my kids says something that's inaccurate, it goes something like this: Cloud might say "Rainbow's favorite color isn't pink, mine is"; I'll have Rainbow address the inaccuracy, let him know what is accurate, and if he chooses to keep on with it, I let her know she's said her piece, she doesn't need to change his mind, she doesn't need to listen to him, she doesn't need to engage, and I support her during the process (I mean, they're only 3 and 4 years old...)  My hope is that they will continue to think about what they hear and make a conscious decision about whether or not they will believe it, accept it.  

And when it comes to Truth...that's where the world turns gray for me.  To me, each person has her own truth.  It's like perception.  It's like that classic example about five people seeing a car accident and each of them having a different story about how it was caused and what the details were.  I wasn't able to really verbalize how I felt about this until I read "The Voice of Knowledge" by Don Miguel Ruiz.  After that book, I felt so settled, so calm.  I could look at a person and feel comfortable knowing that person had their truth, and that I didn't have to agree, I didn't have to like, I didn't have to argue about someone else's story--it's their story, and they are the main characters in their own books.  If I didn't like a story, I didn't have to be a part of that, I didn't have to lend my energy to it.  I found myself much less drained, way more emotionally charged, and much happier.  And I let my kids know that my truth doesn't have to be their truth, that their truths are important, they are their truths, and their truths can change and grow as they do.

I encourage my children to judge their actions for themselves based on how good their actions make them feel.  Rainbow told me sometimes she doesn't want to share her truth, she just wants it to be secret, so she just says something that's wrong.  I told her that was lying, because she was intentionally trying to get someone to believe something that she knew was wrong, and I asked her how she felt about it.  She said it didn't feel good, but she just wanted to keep some stuff a secret.  I asked her how she felt about secrets and she said, "Kind of awkward."  I told her secrets were important, special, and that everyone has them.  I told her she should feel comfortable keeping some stuff to herself and figure out a way to politely decline giving out any or all of the information asked of her.  She really lit up (happily) when I said that, and I felt like I had a real rock star parenting moment.  I view honesty as being really important when looking on the inside so that we're happy with what comes through to the outside.  If I'm honest with myself about x, y and z, and I know that I want to keep z a secret, then I can say x and y and honestly say I don't want to talk about anything else.  If it comes from my heart, then I have much less reason to give in and talk about z or get persuaded into talking about it, or just blurt it out without thinking about it--and I'll have no reason to lie about it.  One hope I have for my kids is just saying, straight up, when they don't feel like talking about something.  It's something I've learned to do as an adult that I wish I'd known how to do as a kid.

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  1. A while back, my daughter had a friend over. The girl is nine, my daughter is 4.
    After a while my daughter came in and said her friend had broken something. I went out to clean up, but couldn't find anything.
    "Did you break something" I asked the friend
    She nodded, seemingly disinterested.
    "Where are the scraps?" I asked
    She ignored me and went on to play. I started getting annoyed and felt this was very disrespctful behavior.
    I followed her into my daughter's room: "Where are the scraps? It's iportant I clean them up, because there's a baby here. If you break something, please tell me so I can make sure the baby doesn't get hurt?"
    The gir never responded.
    I was really angry after this and felt she was really disrespectful and rude.

    Later, I found she had hidden the brken scraps in the cupboard. I talked this over with my husband and he said, well, who knows what reaction she gets when she breaks something at home.

    It dawned on me, her fear of my reaction made her lie, and hide her 'crime' - which in our house isn't even a crime...

    I have bee parenting in this way for so long, it seemed inconceivable to me that a child would lie about something as silly as breaking a glass. She even risked hurting herself by putting the pieces in the cupboard. Poor thing

    1. That's so sad. I was recently lied to by a child, and I was shocked that he would lie until I realized he thought I would react negatively. I assured the child I was not out to blame or punish, that I just wanted to make sure everyone was playing as safely as possible, and we quickly moved through the situation. How much that little girl must be hiding or keeping checked to be able to ignore you.

  2. I really liked your statement about truth being about perspective rather than an absolute. It isn't our job as parents to find the truth for everyone, only what is true for us.