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Being Honest With Children…Even When It’s Really Tough! — 16 Comments

  1. good stuff!
    I always tell people to NEVER answer a child’s question without first asking, “Why do you ask that?” or “What do you mean by that?” Helps you figure out what they are really asking. A lot of things that put your heart in your throat are not so bad once you clarify.

    Also, I’ve found it so true that yes, they WILL accept “we’ll talk later” as an answer if they trust you and you always follow through. I’ve powered through the tough stuff and built that trust and now they know that when I say, “we’ll discuss that in private” that i really will.

    Anyway, again, very good words, I enjoy reading your blog.

    • I find that true too–my first impression is usually not what they really meant at all! I’ve also seen that my kiddos are the first to point out when they are being “put off” by an adult that has NOT built that relationship with them. They definitely KNOW. I think all GOOD parenting strategies take time and energy. Cutting corners with “little white lies” is easy in the short-term but it’s going to be harder on you in the long run. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Great Post! In my family, my Grandparents were so strict about honesty that they wouldn’t even say “your shoe is untied” on April Fool’s Day if it wasn’t true. My Mother raised us to feel that honesty was the only option. I’m trying my best to pass that on.

    It really bothers me when someone else makes my daughter a promise about the future to stop her from crying – when they absolutely know that they won’t fulfill it. We’ve had friends do this on several occasions, and my little one just sits and waits for what has been promised : (

    • Yes, we’ve run into a lot of adults that think the children will “forget” or that it’s “not that important” to them and they won’t notice if it doesn’t happen. Children that are raised on honesty (Not that they don’t ever struggle with it! Just that they are raised that it is important.) expect it from others as well and are often let down.

  3. Amen! I agree!! That’s how we handle it here too. TRUTH- we can’t expect them to understand it’s importance if we regularly bend it for them.

  4. That’s a wonderful list of how to handle children’s questions. We’ve always tried to be honest while at the same time answering in an age appropriate way. Often times we’ve given brief answers at a young age and elaborated as the children age. What’s a good answer for a 6 year old is condescending 11 years later to a 17 year old. Thank you great post!

  5. Wow, very good information! I’m a grandmother now to four great kids ages 4 – 7. Sometimes parents don’t have all the skills they need to raise children to be moral and ethical people, and most children learn by example, which, when you look around, is a scary thing! I see so much moral decline recently and it seems that people are more interested in their own gain rather than how their actions effect others! Maybe I’m just getting old, but I worry about the world my grandchildren will have to live in! I love reading articles like yours – it lets me know that some people (other than my own family) do care to teach their children the right ways! Thanks.

    • Thank you for the complement to our family! I think people often confuse good parenting with RESULTS in the early years–and if their efforts in parenting don’t produce immediate results, they give up. Parenting is about staying the course and not expecting your work to produce fruit right away. I believe that at least 50% (maybe more!) of virtue and integrity and character are learned habits. You have to stick it out and correct those behaviors over and over (and over!) again until the correct habit is in place.

  6. Found you on the Barn Hop. We do need to remember that kids aren’t dumb either. Most kids can tell when you’re lying to them or when your answer doesn’t sound quite right. I also don’t believe in lying to kids – I was one of those that could tell when an adult was lying to me.

    I love that you refer to lying to a kid as a parental cop-out. That’s exactly what it is.

    I think another good strategy is to turn the question around: “Where did you hear THAT word?” “What do YOU think about Uncle Bob moving in with his “friend” Steve?” “How do YOU feel about Mr. and Mrs. Smith getting a divorce”. Sometimes as parents we can get a lot more out of a conversation with the kids by doing more listening than talking.

    • That is another good strategy! We need to take our time to explore and understand how our kiddos think and not just assume we understand everything about how they see the world just from their words. I think a lot of times we assume that our children understand all the words they use and know what they are saying or asking–but that’s not necessarily true. We also love to assume our munchkins are speaking literally and my Cowboy in particular is famous for not quite having the right words for some of his BIG thoughts and ideas. You’ve got to engage him in conversation to let him explain it to see what he really means.

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