Being a parent can be terrifying. From the day your son or daughter takes their first breath, you suddenly realize you’re responsible for another human being. You’re the one who’s going to feed and clothe them, rock them to sleep at night, and chase away the monsters under their bed. You’ll be the person they turn to for strength and guidance. At the same time, you’re just a human being, and mistakes are unavoidable.
Barnabas Piper, of The Blazing Center, believes one mistake every parent makes is lying to their children. Maybe they do it to make their child feel better, or protect them from a painful truth, but these half-truths often come back to haunt them in the end. Below you’ll find a few common lies Piper advises parents to stop spreading, as well as a few we supplied, starting with,
You Can Do Anything You Set Your Mind To.
“Right. Except for all the things you aren’t good at and simply aren’t wired for. Every child can do something well, usually lots of things. But no child can do everything, and we do them a disservice if we encourage them to pursue things they simply can’t succeed at. The challenge is knowing when to let them fail and when to convince them to avoid the road to failure.”
Because I Said So!
It may not look it, but this phrase is a lie of impatience. Children are curious, and this frequently leads them to ask tough questions we’re not ready for. It’s easy to let emotion take over and just respond “Because I said so!” but everyone knows that’s not a real answer. Instead, we need to be more attentive to our children’s questions, and freely admit when we don’t know the answers. If the child is too young to understand, let them know they’ll find out when they’re older.
Discipline can be important, but blind obedience helps no one.
Good Job, Buddy.
“This could be the tagline for today’s parents. You finished your French fries? Good job, buddy! You played a lazy game of soccer and lollygagged through the second half? Good job, buddy! You did a simple thing every child should be expected to do? Good job, buddy! Kids need affirmation. But over-affirming the basic standards of behavior or even poor behavior pushes our kids towards a perpetual need for praise for stuff that deserves none. Many of the jobs our kids do are good in that they are done, but the doing doesn’t deserve applause. Acknowledgement, yes. Even a thank you. But not praise. They are just a part of life. And the more we praise the mundane and the expected the cheaper our praise becomes for those things that actually deserve it.”
You’re Perfect Just the Way You Are!
This lie is told with the best of intentions. At some point in life, everyone has felt awkward or out of place, and it’s reassuring to hear we’re still accepted and loved. In truth though, none of us are perfect. All of us are guilty of sin, and as Mike McGarry of The Gospel Coalition points out, it’s important for us to acknowledge our faults. He writes,
“When we confess our sin to our kids, we’re acknowledging what they already know: Mom and Dad are sinners who desperately need Jesus. If we aren’t willing to model confession, then we will be modeling self-righteousness. We’ll be subtly pointing to our own goodness without giving credit to the Holy Spirit who sanctifies.”
Parenting is difficult, but the struggle is well worth the reward. Christians love their children, and want them to know the grace Christ has lavished upon us, but to do this, we must first model Jesus for them in their own lives. Children don’t need white lies to help them grow up, all they need is for their parents to be their parents.
What about you? What are your thoughts on speaking with children? Be sure to leave a comment in the space below!
*Ryan Duncan is the editor of Crosswalk.com