What are we to do when our children lie?
“Liar! Liar! Pants on fire!” This childhood taunt was targeted at me more times than I’d like to remember. But truth be told, lying can do much
more damage than this jeer suggests. The
tongue, though a tiny member, can cause
great harm, just as a spark can set an entire forest ablaze! A lying tongue, one
of seven sins that the Lord hates, is an
abomination to Him! Why, then, do believers succumb to the practice of lying?
Lying is not a learned behavior. The
Bible says that we come forth from the
womb speaking lies. Yet even some adult
believers lie habitually, often to compen-
sate for feelings of insecurity or fear. Lying
is a besetting sin that has tripped up God-
fearing men throughout the ages, inclu-
ding the following Biblical characters:
•;Abraham lies to Pharaoh concerning
Sarah’s true identity—insecurity.
Moses loses the trust of the children
of Israel. Jacob creates a rift between his
father and brother. He is exiled from
his home and never sees his mother
again (Genesis 25–32). David’s lying
results in the death of an entire family
of priests ( 1 Samuel 21–22). Peter runs
away in shame at the loving glance of his
Savior (Luke 22: 61).
No one had to teach me how to lie. I
was a born liar. Lying was a natural expression of my inward nature that was
dominated by insecurity, fear, and a
lack of character. Even though my mom
would wash my mouth out with soap, it
did not deter me from telling lies.
What are we to do when our children
lie? First, gently talk to them. Remove
all fear so they can come clean. Listen
without lashing out with judgment and
scolding. In 1 John we learn that fear
has torment, but perfect love casts out
fear. It is possible that some children
lie because the level of fear associated
with speaking the truth is too great.
The soap-in-mouth method may deter this behavior, but it will not change
the heart. In fact, a child may burrow
deeper, becoming even more deceitful,
in order to avoid being caught. While
corporal punishment can be a valid
Biblical method of discipline, it should
not always be the first option. In Psalm
103 we learn that God
does not deal with us
according to our sins
but is merciful, gracious,
and slow to anger.