Parenting Dilemma Part 2

Some of you may have already read about yesterday's parenting dilemma. What do you think? What would you have done? I promised to write about how I handled it, so here's the end of the story...

Several hours passed after our last conversation where Clara said that she didn't want to tell me the truth because she was afraid of getting into trouble. I was waiting for Clara to initiate a conversation with me, but it turns out that "Mommy, I made a mistake when I lied to you, would you forgive me? I did hit my sister, and I'm sorry"....just a little too much to expect from a 5 year old who feels like she got away with her "crime". So I started the conversation back up again.

"Clara, are you ready to tell me the truth yet?"

"No. I don't want to get into trouble."

"OK. Well, I've been thinking about this a lot. I'm going to give you this one last opportunity to tell me the truth. Now...did you hit Samantha earlier?"

"No" (said with all the tell-tale signs of someone who is not telling the truth)

"Clara, I heard you hit her. I heard you arguing, I heard the sound of hitting, then I heard you run away, and I heard Samantha start to cry. I know that you hit her and that you just lied to me."

Clara started crying because she knew she'd had it.

"Now you'll have to have the discipline for both hitting your sister AND for lying to Mommy. What do you think would have happened if you had told me the truth?"

"I would have only been in trouble for hitting?"

"That's right."

So I followed through with the discipline for lying and for hitting. Clara wasn't happy...discipline is always tough to swallow even when you know you've messed up. But the best part...after all that discussing and disciplining and crying...we had a really great talk.

"Clara, how did you feel inside when you were lying to me? Did it feel fun and good, or did it feel yucky and a little scary?"

"Yucky."

"It felt yucky for me too because it made me feel so sad. Do you know why it's important to always tell me the truth?"

"No. I don't like getting into trouble."

"It's important because you always telling me the truth is one of the things I count on to keep you safe. It's also important because God tells us that we shouldn't lie to each other. Another important reason is that when people love each other, one of the ways we show our love is to treat each other with honesty and respect. It hurt me when you lied. It hurt a lot."

"Sorry Mommy."

"Now, tell me the truth Clara. Did you hit your sister?"

"Yes."

"Do you know what? I love you very much. I'll always love you even when you make bad choices and when you lie to me. It makes me feel good that you told me the truth just now and that you said 'sorry'. Do you feel better inside now that you told me the truth?"

"Yes."

"And, hey, do you know what else?"

"What?"

"I forgive you. I forgive you just like Jesus forgives us when we tell him the truth and say 'sorry'. He loves you no matter what too."

(Big sighs and hugs)

"Do you want to talk about this any more?"

"No."

"Me either. Let's be all done and go make dinner."

"OK!"

And then it was just...done.

And of course, as always, I think I learned more from this than she even did. I experienced the role of forgiver, and it was really interesting to be on that end for once!

So what did I learn about forgiveness?

- First, I learned how very crucial repentance is. Every now and then when I don't feel like owning up to something with God, I think "Hey, he knows my heart. He knows that I regret what I did. He knows I learned my lesson and won't do it again." But that is not the same as repentance. Clara felt "yucky" about lying too...but it was very hurtful to me that she wouldn't come and talk with me about it and make it right! It wasn't until I heard her admit the truth and she apologized that I felt our relationship could be truly restored. Eye opening! It takes a certain amount of humility and effort to really repent...talk to God, admit my mistake, and apologize...but that effort and humility are very important.

- Second, once we were done talking about it, it was simply OVER. I don't feel the desire to keep reminding her of the incident. And I don't want her to keep bringing it up either. Sometimes I feel the need to continually ask for forgiveness, or to continually tell God how awful I feel. But if Clara did this? I think I'd respond with something like, "Haven't we been through this already? It's over! Let's move on!" I think I'll try to do a little movin' on myself.

- Third, I gained a little insight in to the idea of God's faithfulness. What if God was less faithful? Sometimes I wish he was less faithful, to be honest! I don't like being disciplined. Sometimes I'd rather he just say "Aww, well I'll let it slide this time." But what if I had done that with Clara? She would have missed out on learning an important lesson about honesty. She would have been left with that yucky feeling in her heart indefinitely. And she wouldn't know what to expect from me in the future. God's faithfulness...his consistency to always do what he says he'll do...what peace there is in that! Even when it means short term suffering in the form of discipline, it's so much better than not knowing what to expect from him. What a scary way to live that would be.

- And Fourth, I learned just how important it is for me to remain faithful...consistent...dependable. For all the reasons that I'm thankful that God is faithful, those are the reasons that I want to offer that peace of mind to my loved ones.

Nothing like a light hearted, no-brainer post for a Friday afternoon, eh?!

**********************************************************************
"Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you." Acts 13:38

"Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands." Deuternonomy 7:9

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9

"Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you." Deuteronomy 8:5

"Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty." Job 5:17

Kimberly S  – (4/11/2008 04:07:00 PM)  

Good job dealing with it, and NOT letting it slide. I know I do that with my kids, especially when I'm tired of punishing them for the same thing again and again. But how confused they must be when I finally do decide to punish them again! Like "hey, it wasn't a big deal for the last week, and now I'm getting spanked for it again?!"

Michelle@Life with Three  – (4/11/2008 06:54:00 PM)  

Thanks for sharing this with us. I didn't comment on Part 1 because I struggle with taking the right approach with lying and my own kids. You don't want them to lie, but you don't want them to fear telling the truth. Sometimes, it's a very fine line. I think you handled it beautifully. I was glad to learn from your experience!

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