Ethan is not a liar and has absolutely no power of deception. He once told me that he finished his food to get dessert and came back penitent and sobbing telling me that he "lied" since he realized he had left a dime size crumb from the crust of his sandwich on his plate that he thought he ate.
Luke is another story. I was in the kitchen cleaning up when he decided that he wanted to move straight on to dessert without finishing his sandwich. While this is a common two year old sentiment, his subterfuge was not. He transferred his food to another plate in the dining room and then presented me with his empty one for dessert. Truth is not his strong point.
With this incident in mind, I've been trying to emphasize honesty to Luke lately. The problem with this though is explaining why we need to be honest to a two year old is pretty tricky since being moral for it's own sake isn't inherently motivating whereas dessert is.
I realized I have made no progress this week when I told him that if he finished his water he could have a tiny bit of soda. He told me he drank it all but as he was bringing the cup to me, he looked down into it and disappeared back into the kitchen and I heard the splash of water in the sink. Mr. Brazen reappeared holding out his cup proclaiming, "Empty!"
During our resulting discussion, I took a different approach. I tried to explain that God tells us that lying is bad and that Jesus never lied and always told the truth. Luke's eyes widened. We talked about how we want to be like Jesus and how that means we should never lie since that is what Jesus did. Luke was, for one of the first times, actually remorseful.
While we did have another lying incident after this one, he connected with the idea of why we should be truthful and so I am hoping that we are on the road to growth in the truth-telling department. One of my major parenting goals is to teach our kids how to control themselves and I think that means understanding why they are supposed to do the things we've asked them to do. Long after "The Rules" have lost their power over them, they will still need to behave in responsible, moral and God-honoring ways. I realized that if I fail to explain that God's character is the root of morality and it is our love for Him that should motivate us to do what is right, all I have given them is a set of rules and set them up for the pressures of legalism.
I always feel like I am re-learning lessons as I need to teach them to my kids. Be truthful because God is truth. Love others since God is love. Give freely since God has given abundantly. Live in and extend grace since God is graceful and offered us grace through the death of His Son Christ Jesus. I'm constantly reminded of these since it seems like these phrases, in preschooler speak, of course, come out of my mouth. Truthfully, though, these lessons are some that I believe we can never learn deeply enough and can use the constant repetition. They are easy to forget, even for me, and time is the crucible in which we refine our character.
And, until Luke's character refines a little more, I recommend taking what he says with a grain of salt.