I was listening to a Christian radio station who was featuring a guest pastor. The pastor’s message was that children naturally tell lies so parents need to teach them to tell the truth. I was shocked. I have six children and I have been around children my whole life and I completely disagree and so does the scriptures. The Bible supports that children tell the truth, which stands to reason, they are born with an innate disposition to tell the truth.
Bible teachings about the nature of children
The Bible teaches that children are the greatest and that the kingdom of heaven will be made up of those who are like
“Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.Matthew 18:4
And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.Matthew 18:3
I do not understand why a Christian pastor would deliver the message that children are born liars when this statement is completely contrary to Bible teachings.
Children Tell the Truth
I have observed if children are telling lies, they have been taught to lie or they fear to tell the truth (which is also learned). Children are influenced by adults who knowingly and unknowingly teach children to lie. Children are not born liars, they learn to lie from watching carnal adults.
Little White Lies
As we live life, we learn to exaggerate and embellish stories and statements. Children quickly pick up the practice of extending the truth or telling little white lies as we converse with friends and family.
Examples of Little White Lies
As children observe the subtle practice of little white lies like the examples below, they learn this is how things work in
- You tell your friend you like her dress. Then a day later, you mention in a general statement the cut of the dress you complimented your friend on, is an unflattering cut on women’s bodies revealing your compliment was insincere.
- You are at a dinner party and you tell the hostess how yummy everything tastes, but your children know you actually don’t like fruit mixed in with meats and dairy products.
- A salesman comes to the door and you tell your children to tell the salesman you are not home.
It is difficult to be 100% authentic, so although, children are the most authentic beings, they learn to be inauthentic from adults. Social etiquette often encourages inauthenticity which may be one of the sources why children learn to lie.
My children embarrassed me numerous times truthfully sharing whatever was on their mind. I never punished them for sharing what was on their mind but I did teach them what I viewed as proper and improper to share in a public setting. Looking back, I realize I was encouraging inauthenticity because I didn’t enjoy being embarrassed.
The way we discipline children is very tricky when teaching children to value “telling the truth”.
For example, the neighbors claim your son trampled on one of their flower beds. Your son said he didn’t. You tell
“If we happen to find out at a later time that you tromped on the flowers, then I will help you apologize and figure out a way to fix what you messed up. And a
“On the other hand, if you tell the truth on your own, you won’t lose any privileges, and dad and I will help you fix the mistake you made.”
If similar situations were always handled with care every time, children would not learn to lie. However, the reality is that these type of situations are not handled correctly every time
Fears about telling the truth
Even if we as parents could perfectly “help our children not develop fears about telling the truth”, there would still be teachers, friends, church leaders, etc. that would NOT properly teach and praise children for telling the truth. Some would punish, embarrass, shame, or use scare tactics even when children choose to tell the truth which teaches them it is safer to lie rather than tell the truth.
Again, the Bible teaches, children are the greatest which equates to children tell the truth. Children could teach adults much about telling the truth if they were safely allowed to tell the truth.
Adults are the weak ones who both knowingly and unknowingly teach children to fear
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