Last week, The New York Times published an article that had the headline, “Is Your Child Lying to You? That’s Good.”
In the article itself, Alex Stone pushes back against the assumption that a child’s habit of lying should trouble parents. “We believe honesty is a moral imperative,” he writes, “and we try to instill this belief in our children.” But, according to Stone, research tells us that “[l]ying is not only normal; it’s also a sign of intelligence.” As a result, parents should be pleased when their children start lying to them. He even suggests that the younger the child is when they start lying, the better.
According to one psychologist he cites, parents should celebrate if they find that their 2- or 3-year-old is lying. For young kids, the ability to lie shows that they’re more “socially adept and well adjusted.”
For parents who have habitually honest children, Stone even recommends “speed[ing] up the process” by engaging their lying faculties in “interactive games and role-playing exercises.” Lying is worth practicing, he suggests, because it’s “good for your brain.”
Stone recognizes that this discovery causes a new conundrum for parents. “We want our children to be clever enough to lie but morally disinclined to do so,” he writes. How can parents make this possible? To guide parents through this question, Stone cites research that shows punishing lying to be less effective then rewarding truth-telling. So he recommends that parents avoid spanking their lying children. As an alternative, he says, parents could just pay their kids to tell the truth.
So, even though it may cost parents some cash to counteract the lying lessons they give their children, it will supposedly be worth it because lying makes their kids smarter.
This is the message of our culture. It’s completely contrary to the message of the Bible. While the world associates lying with mental maturity, Scripture associates lying with the sinful flesh. Revelation 22 even groups liars with the murderers and the sexually immoral. According to the Bible, lying has nothing to do with true wisdom and everything to do with worldly wisdom. It’s the sort of wisdom or “knowledge” that made Adam and Eve lie to their Creator when they hid from him in the Garden of Eden. It’s the same sort of wisdom that Satan whispered to Eve in Genesis chapter 3.
All parents will have to choose at some point what sort of wisdom they will promote in their kids. And it’s a decision that will bring along eternal consequences.
Leah Hickman is a 2017 graduate of Hillsdale College’s English program. She freelances for BreakPoint.org and has written pieces for multiple Hillsdale College campus publications as well as for ChristianAnswers.net/Spotlight and the Discover Laura Blog. Read more by Leah at aworldofgrasspeople.blogspot.com.
Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/bbevren
Publication date: January 12, 2018