Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Cry for Parenting Help

Okay...I won't go into the gorey details, but we caught Austin in a lie. He came home from school on Tuesday and I asked if he earned a Computer Coupon. He told me "no" and proceeded to tell me that Seth (a boy in his class) had goofed off when they went swimming. His teacher, Miss Karen, thought it was Austin, but it was really Seth. I had my doubts from the beginning, but I also knew that Miss Karen would not have been in the boys locker room. So, I asked him several times if this was the absolute truth. Finally, I looked at him and said, "Austin...I need you to tell me the truth. I will believe you no matter what you say. But, the most important thing is that you tell me the truth." He told me that it was honestly all Seth. I believed him and had forgotten all about it.

Yesterday, I went to help out in his class. Another child, Carson, came up to me and told me what Austin had done at swimming yesterday. Ironically, Carson described exactly what Austin said Seth had done. Austin was in another group, so he didn't hear Carson tell me this information. About 3 minutes after Austin got home from school, he and Macy got into a shouting match in her room and woke Paige up (again) after only about an hour nap. They both got sent to their rooms to sit on their beds while I taught piano. During a break, I went into Austin's room and told him what Carson had told me. He immediately put his face into his hands. This is when my heart broke for him because I knew he had lied. My next piano lesson showed up, and I told him I would come back later. When I walked in his room, I asked him if he was ready to talk. He put his face in his hands again (he couldn't even look at me) and said, "Carson was right." I asked him why he lied, and he explained that he didn't want to get in trouble. I told him that he was in a lot more trouble now.

When Greg came home, he explained that he was very angry (when I feel empathy, Greg is livid; when I am livid; Greg feels empathy - it works out well), but we were going to sit down and enjoy dinner. After dinner, Greg talked to Austin about what it means to lie and that it comes from Satan. Austin came up to me, hugged me and said he was sorry. I told him he had done a really stupid thing, and he is going to have to work really hard to earn back the trust that he lost. I explained that we will always love him - he doesn't have earn love. But, trust is something that he does have to earn. He walked away, then came right back. He put his arms around me and said, "Mom, I'm not just normal sorry; I'm really, really, really sorry." And my heart broke again.

Here's the dilemma - What do I do now? I know he feels sorry, but I think it's more about getting caught. I want him to learn this really tough lesson at 6. I want it to have an impact on him. We can deal with anything - but not lying! Do I just punish the lying, or do I punish the original offence as well? Does anyone have any suggestions on how to punish lying? He has the entire week off of school next week. How long do I draw this out? HELP!


Jen said...

I have NO idea. I'm way too laid back about that stuff. I'd be like...OK, he feels sorry, did some extra chores, good enough. But if there was anyone besides you guys he lied to, then I'd have him tell them the truth and apologize.

Laura said...

Same at our house, we can deal with anything, but do not tolerate lying! We had this problem with Josh last year. In some ways, I think it has something to do with the age. In Josh's case, it was mostly because he didn't want me to be mad and yell at him and he didn't want to dissapoint us. In that order, I'm pretty sure.

When we found out about the lies (and there were a coulple of them - school related too) we told him that he could tell us anything and we PROMISED to listen quietly and to talk quietly. We told him that if he came to us and told us the truth about a situation, there would still be a consequence, if one was deserved. However, if he lied to us the punishment would be much more severe and we have followed through with that. We also told him that he would have to gain our trust back. That he would have to prove to us he was telling the truth until we believed he would tell us the truth all the time.

So, I guess I'm trying to say...At our house anyway...punish the orginal offense, if it is deserved and let the punishment fit the crime...and we add an additional punishment for the lying. Now all of this is usually privilages taken away, grounding, or whatever will make the most impact on the child and will stress the fact that lying is so wrong.

We haven't had a problem for a really long time. Oh, once in a great while I can tell that he wants to try to tell a lie and maybe I believe something I shouldn't sometimes, but we made it past the rough spot. You will too! I think your response to him was just right and I think, with your help, he will learn very quickly about the virtue of telling the truth. :)

Lindsay said...

Jamie is a chronic liar and sadly he is a good liar. I know he's told me several lies and I've just believed him. Lying is a huge problem here. He still doesn't get that it is not a good thing and if he does get it - he doesn't care. I think, he thinks he can pretty much get away with anything. When we do catch him lying he is punished, whatever it may be. But it's usually something he truly hates, like going to bed early or no treats. I get so angry when I find out he's lied to me, I don't tolerate it either.

valerie said...

Lying is so hard to deal with! The last time we had a problem, it coincided neatly with a primary lesson (which I happened to teach) about the steps to forgiveness. It seemed so appropriate to let such a serious thing like lying be tied to the "real" rules that the scriptures teach us. The twins actually wanted to keep my handout from class in their room so they could remember the steps. That's what we use (sometimes in addition to other punishment) when I want them to feel the gravity of what they have done. Or when I don't know what else to do!!

1. Feel sorry
2. Ask forgiveness
3. Right the wrong
4. Don't repeat the wrong

They feel like they can really make it right on their own when they use the steps - which they now always remember! And with lying, they know that it hurts Heavenly Father more than anyone, so they have to pray about it too. I've even caught them doing the steps on their own!

Alexie said...

I am so sorry, Em. It sounds like you did the right thing talking to him about it. I know Abby's not old enough, but Curtis and I read the replies here and (even though we don't know all your friends)we thought they were extremely insightful. We especially liked the part about how lies really hurt Heavenly Father most. It's a hard thing to explain to a kid that the reason lies can be so bad and hurtful is becasue you can get away with them. How do you tell a kid that without them taking it the wrong way? I don't know.

I think you're a great mom, Em, and I think you and Greg really do try to teach your kids what's best. Sometimes you hold your kids to the standards you've set for yourself, which is pretty tough for anyone. But they will learn right from wrong with you, and I think mostly they'll choose right in the end.

Kristy said...

I echo what Laura and Lindsay said. It's a huge problem for us too. Wish I had the absolute answer for you.