As our children get older, with our son about to enter his teens, we’re finding no shortage of opportunities to discuss issues of morality. Many of them are post-mortem recaps of prior infractions but on occasion my wife and I get a chance to offer preemptive guidance.
One such venue for parental advice is the trip to Grandma’s, where we have to provide counsel on either a juicy schoolmate story or an outright confession. Lately, our son has been coming to grips with meaning of lying…he just doesn’t get it!
“Dad, when I was around 3 years old I think I said Dominique did something bad when she really didn’t.”
I won’t say he can memorize pie to 10,000 decimal places, but he has an incredible memory so I didn’t doubt his story. Despite his recollective prowess, his judgment leaves much to be desired. If he was 3, our daughter was 1 at the time and even though zero tolerance has gotten completely out of control these days, I was inclined to cut him some slack on this occasion.
“Buddy, you guys were still babies so don’t feel bad about that.”
“Oh, OK. But you know what, the other day I lied when I played an April Fool’s joke on Grandma and Granpa.” Like I said, his judgment is completely out of wack. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy he’s trying to be an honest boy but if he inherited the “prankster” gene from me, he’s going to drive himself insane unless he learns how to discriminate.
“Pal, not everything like that is a lie. You have to think about what happened and ask yourself, ‘Was I joking? Did I make a mistake? Did I say something without thinking?’ That’s called ‘judgment’. Do you understand.”
“I think so.”
“It’s hard when you’re young because you don’t have a lot of experience so that’s why Mom and I help you guys figure things out. We tell you what to eat, when to go to bed, when to take a bath, when to clean your room and what’s good and bad. But as you get older you have to start using your own judgment so you can take care of yourself.”
At this point our daughter wanted to get into the act.
“You mean like when we get older we can make all those decisions ourselves?!”
“That’s right! You guys will be on your own soon.” I was happy by the enthusiasm in her voice that she seemed up for the challenge of responsibility. My elation was short lived when her next outburst was…