Confessions of a Reformed Liar

About nine years ago, I realized that one of my kids was developing a habit of lying. I started to notice that he was lying more and more, until it seemed to be happening a few times a day. I was really concerned.

See, I had this habit when I was a kid, and it was SUPER hard to break. After years of lying, I had become so accustomed to it that whenever I was confronted with a difficult situation, my mind was conditioned to think up a lie. It was actually harder for me to think through the situation and tell what really happened than it was to lie. If I was late to a class, my lying instinct kicked in, and I began working out a story to make tardiness seem excusable. As I got older, it actually didn’t even occur to me that it would be better to just own it, apologize and try harder next time.

I didn’t overcome it until my 20’s, when I had a God encounter. I began to understand that I had to fix this, but it was such a struggle. So many times, I’d have to stop mid-sentence and say, “Actually, that’s not true.” It was painful and humiliating. In the meantime, I also had to go back to my family and begin confessing old lies. Yuck! It was rough. But at the end of the day, it was also freeing. And having known what it felt like to be in bondage to lies, I wanted to give my son the gift of a clean conscience.

So when I saw this nasty habit start to form, I was like a dog on a scent. I knew I had to help him root this thing out, so I began spending day and night researching the root of lying and how to deal with it. I read books and articles and talked to experts. I was determined to fix this.

It was February 2006 when I began the long haul of helping my son learn how to tell the truth. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I didn’t realize how long it would take or how intense it would be. Throughout the next few posts, I’ll weave the story of my son in and out as illustrations of the different things I learned.

By November of that year, I knew we had licked it. Something happened that revealed a seismic shift had taken place in my little guy. He had changed from the inside out. The victory had been won, but it came on the heels of a focused nine month journey.

Before we get into the meat of this thing, let me encourage you to steel yourself and make the commitment to walk it out. Don’t give up or give in before you see total victory. This habit has deep roots and won’t transform easily, but if you are committed and consistent, things will change. Since winning the victory over lying in my house more than eight years ago, I have helped many families do the same.

It works! Stick with and find out how. It’s probably not at all what you think!

Tomorrow I’m going to Debunk 7 Myths of Lying. And on Saturday, I’ll give you the Six Steps to Overcome Lying.

The Root of Lying

In all the research I did, I was shocked to find out one of the main causes of lying — the desire for a shortcut! A child wants to get out of trouble, so he lies because it’s easier than facing the potential consequences. Someone who makes up stories to impress people is taking a short cut. She doesn’t want to put in the time and effort it takes to build authentic admiration, so she makes up a story to win instant favor.

People Can Smell a Lie

We need to teach our kids that they usually won’t get away with a lie–not completely anyway. In fact, we’re lying to ourselves when we think we’ve gotten away with it. People sense a lie. They may not know exact what it is, but it’s as if they can smell something rotten. We do our kids a MASSIVE injustice when we don’t help them learn to overcome a lying habit.

The Long Haul

Once you recognize that lying is an issue, you have to help kids overcome it, or it will become a habit and a hard one to break. The process I am going to share with you this week works when you are committed and willing to do it gently, thoroughly and consistently, over a long period of time. Do not expect quick results. Give yourself a year to get through this one.

 

Tune in this Saturday morning to Parenting On Purpose radio show. Jody and I are going to be talking about how to overcome lying. If you are local to Sarasota, you can listen on 1220 AM or 106.9FM. If not, tune in to live online at WSRQ Radio.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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5 thoughts on “Confessions of a Reformed Liar

  1. I’m so excited to hear more about this topic. I’ve struggled for years with one of my children who is very imaginative, quite the storyteller, and it’s difficult to know when to stop the stories and inject the truth vs. when is is okay to let his imagination run. While imagination is a great give, the danger is that fine line where his imagination replaces the truth in real life. And, as mentioned above, the habits that are formed as one presents pictures that are greater than reality–fisherman’s tales–lies. I want to know what to do about it. Looking forward to hearing the solution but feeling really challenged by the one year commitment. Maybe I like shortcuts too much too. 🙁

    • You are so right about the fine line between imagination and lying. It is a big deal, and it can be a hard habit to break, but we can cultivate creativity without comprising character. Stay tuned this week. We are going to offer some ideas for just that. And thank you for being transparent and sharing your own struggles with us. It is so helpful to know we are not in this one alone!

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