Why is it that when a preacher or a priest commits an immoral act, it’s bigger news than when, say a plumber, commits the same act? It’s because ministry is a character profession. It’s a profession designed to teach God’s character to others. Guess what? Parenting is a character profession too. We must practice integrity before we can transfer it to our children.
An important aspect of integrity is telling the truth. Start right now with a policy that 100% truthfulness is required at all times, of everyone in the family. Here are some specific ways. First, don’t ever tell your kids to lie for you. We need to let them see us tell the truth even when it’s hard and we have to face the consequences. We should confess that it crossed our mind to not be completely honest in this situation because of whatever–name the fear, but we chose honesty and we’re glad we did.
Another way to set a good example is to be honest about our mistakes. It’s easier to cover up a mistake, and hope no one notices, especially kids because they might not be as aware. But, to set a good example of honesty, it’s better in the long run to point out our mistakes and how we dealt with them—little ones and big ones. Help kids see that the sky didn’t fall, people forgave us and we feel much better to be completely open in our relationships.
When you see kids act with honesty when it would have been easier to lie, reward that honesty by helping the sky to not fall over the mistake they are confessing. Thank them, and while you may still need to have consequences for their mistake, help alleviate the consequences so they are glad they enlisted your help rather than covering up their actions. Talk through how much better things went with honesty rather than deception. Praise their good character and do all you can to turn that negative experience into a positive one.
A third example of honesty is to apologize when we’re wrong. Apologies demonstrate being able to look at ourselves honestly and then be honest with others. That’s why, when apologizing, it’s important to actually name the sin or offense.
Another example of honesty is to teach kids to back up what they say and do with evidence. For example, send your child into the store with money to purchase something and expect him to return with the receipt and correct change. Explain that this isn’t because you don’t trust him, but you’re helping him to build an important habit. Explain that providing evidence when possible builds trust by helping others to not have to wonder if everything is above board.
Stories and illustrations are also a great way to teach on honesty. One such story is found in the visualized lesson from Child Evangelism Fellowship called the Ice Cream Message. It’s a about a boy who struggles to do the right thing but is glad he made the right decision. You can use it in the summer to invite your child’s friends over for a story, play and ice cream. The party club kit is available from CEFPress.com.
In John chapter 8, verses 31 and 32 Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Frequently teach this biblical principle that truth sets us free. You might even want to hang it on the wall at home. What does truth set us free from? Slavery to sin, guilt, and regrets. The book of Romans has much to say about freedom from sin. That’s what God’s salvation is all about, freedom from sin and its terrible consequences. Only God’s truth gives that freedom.
All of these ideas for setting an example of honesty in your home can help make truth attractive to children. The resource I mentioned earlier, The Ice Cream Message party club kit can be found at cefpress.com along with many other helps for discipling children in the truth of God’s Word.