Last week, I wrote about a conflict between my boys that I had to resolve. In that article, I focused mainly on my thoughts related to the value that I put on character and how that influenced my decision, but there was another component to that instance that I think is worth sharing.
In the original discussion, M pointed out that he thought that S was getting away with lying. Besides S's word, I had nothing on which to base my decision. It's entirely possible that he was lying and that he did get away with one. I acknowledged this in front of both and made sure I had S's attention when I told him that while he *might* be able to pull one over on me, he'll always know the truth and the only way to escape that is to be honest and tell the truth.
While I don't find myself in these sorts of situations where I have to address issues of honesty and integrity often with my boys, the times when it does happen leave an imprint on my memory. I've found that trying to communicate the importance of honesty and truth telling is an extremely difficult thing to do with young boys. I find that in these situations, the most effective way to get through to them is to tell a story about the future and the sort of relationship that I want to have with them.
Before I continue, I should point out that I totally stole this approach from the Bible. In Matthew 22:36-40, Jesus says that the all the commandments hinge on loving God and your neighbor. He compels people to act based on their loving relationship with their creator and their fellow created beings. While it may seem like Jesus was opening a giant loophole in saying this, I take it to mean the exact opposite.
When we behave according to laws, we look for loopholes that to excuse our behavior. "Who is my neighbor?" But when we behave according to love, the loopholes of law are filled by our morals and our values that stem from the relationship. Behaving according to love doesn't rescind the law, it compels us to stop looking for loopholes and think of behaving in a way that God would approve.
I'm getting off-topic. When I'm struggling to get my kids to understand the logic and reason behind these esoteric and values-based ideas, I tell them what I want our relationship to be like and how their decision to either tell the truth or tell a lie will affect that vision.
Below is an example of what that conversation was like: