Saw this board whilst walking down the street a while back. It triggered a memory of an incident that occurred a few years ago with one of my children. I need to set the scene for you first though!
Ever since our oldest child started pre-school I have prayed, together with other mothers, at their respective schools. We have also always taught our children that lying and stealing is wrong and are, in fact, even mentioned in the ten commandments!
“You shall not steal”
“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor” (Exodus 20) – which basically means don’t lie.
Now about the incident.
I was just walking into a prayer meeting at the Junior school, feeling quite ‘holy’ when I checked my phone messages. Please note that subsequent to this, I no longer check any messages before going into a meeting.
There was a message there from my child in Senior school. What follows is a record of messages stemming from that one:
Child: “ Hey, mom. Is it ok if I forge your signature on my History test? If it’s not signed I get detention”
Me: “What planet have you been living on for the past fifteen years?? (now you can see why the message on the board above triggered this memory!) ” From the time you were born your dad and I have taught you that lying and stealing is wrong. By forging a signature you are effectively doing both!!!!”
Child: “I thought it would be ok cos you have already seen the paper and thought my mark was pretty good”.
I walked into the prayer meeting and told the ladies present “you will not believe what my daughter has just asked me!” and proceeded to tell them with great indignation.
One of the moms present responded “I think it is amazing that she asked you whether she could forge your signature and didn’t just sign it”.
This stopped me in my tracks and I messaged the child back:
“Meet me in the reception area at your school at first break and I will sign the test for you”.
When I arrived at the school I told the receptionist (who also happens to be a good friend of mine) why I was there. I was still feeling a bit indignant.
She replied “Noel, you should be so thankful that your child asked you. A large majority of the students here would just have forged the signature and not thought twice about it”.
That evening I recounted the story to my oldest daughter via skype as she was overseas at the time.
Her response was “That is so silly. Why would she even ask you something like that?”
I was just starting to pat myself on the back and think ‘well, at least I have got it right with one child’ when she stated “I would have just signed the test if you had already seen it!”
When you have children you just can’t win.
There is a lovely Irish saying “Shame the devil and tell the truth”
“The Lord detests lying lips, but He delights in men who are truthful” (Proverbs 12:22)
I have sometimes, in the past, told a ‘little white lie’ mainly when I have wanted to spare someone else’s feelings when the truth would have hurt them but a ‘little white lie’ is still a lie.
And in the long run our ‘little white lies’ add up and can be quite detrimental towards others.
If we are to teach our children honesty, we need to be honest in all things.