How NOT to raise deceitful children

July 17th, 2013 @   -  No Comments

Most people would agree that truthfulness is a virtue, yet many people lie. For some, lying is convenient, a way to get out of sticky situations. Others think a lie is not always hurtful and sometimes, the person deserves to be lied to. Whatever justifications we find for our lies, most of us do not appreciate being lied to. So we should not lie to others either.

We are commanded by Allah to be truthful, “O you who believe! Be afraid of Allah, and be with those who are true (in words and deeds)” (Quran: 9:119). “O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth. He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, he has indeed achieved a great achievement (i.e. he will be saved from the Hell-fire and will be admitted to Paradise)” (Quran 33:70-71).

Some people lie so much that it becomes a habit, they don’t even realize they are doing it. They even lie when they don’t need to.

The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Telling of truth is a virtue and virtue leads to Paradise and the person tells the truth until he is recorded as truthful, and lies lead to obscenity and obscenity leads to hell, and the person tells a lie until he is recorded as a liar” (Muslim).

It’s best to develop truthfulness in children from a young age rather than trying to change a habit of dishonesty later. How do you achieve this?

Be truthful

Sometimes parents lie or deceive others without realizing that their children are learning from them. So before you expect your children or others to be truthful, you must be truthful. No matter how many times you tell children that lying is wrong, if they hear you tell lies, it will send a much stronger message about the acceptability of lying.

Allah sees you and hears you

Explain to them that lying is wrong and it does not please Allah. A message this important bears repeating and reminder. Explain to them that God sees them, hears them and knows everything they do. This will help them develop a consciousness of Allah that discourages lying.

Understand the motivation behind the lie

Try to understand why your child is lying. He may be lying because he’s trying to get something that he needs but you wouldn’t give him. Discuss with him how he can get what he needs without lying. Or she may be lying because she is afraid. In this case, teach her that telling the truth is a good thing but do not punish her for being honest. Reward truthfulness even if she was admitting to something bad that she did. For example, “I know you hit your sister and I see that you feel guilty about it. Although I’m not happy that you hit your sister, I’m proud that you told the truth.” The consequence in this case should be a positive one such as apologizing to her sister, or if she spilled something, to clean after herself.

When you address the reason behind the lie, children will less likely lie again for that particular reason. Your child may lie to go out with his friends, because otherwise you won’t let him. Rather than punishing him for lying, try to find ways for him to see his friends or other forms of entertainment so he wouldn’t have to lie to you again.

Being truthful and being blunt

Children are usually blunt because they are not always aware of what may be perceived as hurtful. They need to understand that while being truthful is important, there are times when it is not beneficial to be so honest or blunt. If the truth hurts others and doesn’t serve any other purpose then it shouldn’t be spoken. Being truthful does not mean you have to say everything you think.

Acceptable lies

The Prophet (PBUH) said, “He who makes peace between the people by inventing good information or saying good things, is not a liar” (Bukhari). The result must be a positive one and the alternative without the lie is worse. It cannot be a selfish goal that leads to one’s own benefit while harming others. It is a lie that does not harm anyone while bringing good and peace between individuals.

Benefit of the doubt in uncertainty

If your child tells you something that you think is a lie but you’re not sure about it, give him/her the benefit of the doubt. If it is a lie, the child will feel guilty; if it is the truth, you will not harm your relationship with your child by not believing him/her.

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