The Single Dad Experience: How To Deal With A Liar
The other day I asked my son to read a book for thirty minutes. The book isn't a hard read and he knows that if there is a word he doesn't know he can ask me and I will help him not only pronounce it but give him a definition that he can understand. Simple. I flipped the hourglass (actually a half an hour glass) and sat back to do some chilling. As soon as the half hour was up he walked over to me and told me he had completed the entire book. I was astonished to say the least.
But then I got to thinking. How did this first grader go from page 32 to page 93 in just thirty minutes? It took me days to finish this entire thing! I decided to ask him a few questions about the book. He answered them with confidence all except the last question.
"So, was it hard for the old man to catch the fish?" I asked.
"Um....no?" He answered.
Bingo. There it was. He had lied to me. I didn't want to believe it but there was this huge lie looking me dead in my face! This entire book is about how hard it was for this old man to catch this fish! To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. I didn't raise my voice though. I didn't ht him or anything like that. I talked to him and let him know just how upset it made me that he lied. Then I asked him, why? He didn't have a good answer but here is what I could speculate and here is where my advice comes in.
When people lie, I think, its because they are afraid of the consequences of the truth. That said, then we can link lying to fear. Fear then, is not weakness but more so not knowing something. We fear the dark because we don't know what's in it. We may fear pools because we can't swim. There could be a number of reason for why we fear something but in the end fear is just something we create when we do not know or understand something. Fear is a choice.
So how do we combat a kid that is a liar? This is the type of behavior you'll want to nip in the bud VERY early because it could lead to bigger and worse things. Kids that lie can't be trusted, true, but a kid that won't tell you the truth may hold other things back as well that could be detrimental to their safety. If your child lies to you he or she may be afraid to tell you things. What if something bad is happening at school or a friends house and they fear telling you will be a worse consequence?
I suggest keeping an open dialogue with your kid. Make sure that talking to you isn't a chore and look for signs that he or she make want to disengage from certain conversations. It is important that you enforce rules of course but forcing your kid to talk when they don't want to may cause them to shy away from you. If you get angry and yell at them a lot they may see coming to you as a bad thing. Try to stay calm and let them know that you are there to protect them and that coming to you is the right thing to do at all times. You're a dad! They WANT to feel safe around you because you're big and strong! Intimidating them will not help you at all!
When they/if they do tell a lie, let them know how disappointed you are in them but remind them that you are here for them and that they can tell you anything. Tell them that lying can be harmful because it will be hard to know how you can protect them when/if something does happen to them. Give them examples of some of the things you have done for them and ask them how they would feel if they found out you had lied to them. I'm sure they'll say they would be sad. Let them know that you feel the same way. Having empathy may help them see the error of their ways.
Your kids should never be afraid of you. They should respect you and do as you say but you can't get that respect by having them fear you. I talked to my son a little more and found out that he thought I wanted him to read the entire book in just thirty minutes and he just wanted me to be happy. He was afraid I would be upset with him. Once I told him that he had nothing to worry about I sent him to his room to read the book again.
Out loud this time so I know he wasn't skipping any pages of course. Fool me once, as the saying goes...