Raising an honest family

Image by David Gee Flickr.com_3760624482_e5bcb6b31a_CC BY-ND 2.0

Image by David Gee
Flickr.com_3760624482_e5bcb6b31a_CC BY-ND 2.0

Concentrate on doing your best for God, work you won’t be ashamed of, laying out the truth plain and simple. Stay clear of pious talk that is only talk. Words are not mere words, you know. If they’re not backed by a godly life, they accumulate as poison in the soul. 2 Timothy 2:15-17 The Message

Raising an honest family seems like a no-brainer. On the surface, we could say raising an honest family is teaching our children to tell the truth at all times, right? But honesty is more than just telling the truth with our lips. It’s living the truth with our actions.

Easier said than done. 

Arguing with my strong-willed children brought out the worst in my character. My patience wore thin very quickly and my actions were far from loving. Many times my husband would walk into a heated argument and make things even worse. Both our mouths spewed shameful pronouncements over our children and each other that I wish we would’ve taken back as soon as they sprayed across the room. It was easy to lean on the old parental quotes like, “Because I said so!” or to quote the father from the movie Matilda, “I’m big, you’re small. I’m right, you’re wrong.” But using those methods of winning an argument makes everyone a loser.

Our actions, especially with our children, speak louder than our words, even hurtful, shameful words. So what do we do when the argument’s over and we recognize we’ve messed up? Be real. Be honest. Set aside pride and admit your wrong-doing to those you’ve wronged, especially those living under your roof. That’s right. Set aside pride and the temptation to “be right” and humbly admit you were wrong.

If we’re teaching our children that honesty is the best policy, then many times we, as parents, must swallow some humble pie in their presence. Sometimes (many times) we’re wrong. We speak harshly, act judgmental, demean character, (fill in the blank_____); simply put, we mess up.

And if you say you never mess up, well then, you’re just lying. Oh, I’m not saying that our kids (or spouses) can never be wrong. On the contrary. But, for this article, I’m just talking about when our actions (as parents and spouses) are wrong.

But it doesn’t end with the admittance of wrong-doing. If we’re teaching honesty, we need to go one step further: ask for their forgiveness. Which also means to be willing to accept “no” for an answer. What?! That’s right. We must allow those we’ve wronged the time and ultimately the choice to forgive (or remain angry with) our actions. Their decision is not our responsibility. Our only responsibility is to own our actions and to ask for their forgiveness. We cannot demand their forgiveness just like they could not demand our honesty. It’s a heart choice.

As parents, we set the tone for the house. We are to be the example of Christ to our children and through us, our children see the world, mold their opinions, and learn how to live. Let’s do our best. Let’s start by holding honesty in our words and actions to a high calling. Set the example and set aside pride. Admit wrong doing, when necessary, and ask for forgiveness.

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