April 1961 - Vol. X, Number 4
by Jack R. Elliott
YOU as a parent should be ACTIVELY TEACHING your child that ALL LYING IS UNPROFITABLE. But first YOU must become convinced of this yourself. ALL lying is wrong and MUST be eradicated! If YOU are not strictly adhering to the truth, you are probably teaching your child to tell lies. From your EXAMPLE your child learns and from your NEGLECT he will grow up untrained in truthfulness.
The Scriptures show clearly, and especially Proverbs 19:5, that A FALSE WITNESS SHALL NOT BE UNPUNISHED. Who ever speaks lies will not escape, but will PERISH in the lake of fire!
We live in a land so full of lying and liars that an individual who refrains from lying in all forms is often considered ODD. Movies and novels portray these individuals as causing endless trouble because they refuse to tell even "the little white lie." They are often made the brunt of jokes. The author of such stories usually ends them in such a way that the reader is convinced that lying is not only profitable but TO REFRAIN FROM IT IS FOOLISH!
But, all lying is WRONG. It is merely another WAY which seems right to man, but which ends in death (Pr. 14:12).
What is a Lie?
In order to teach your child NOT TO LIE, you must first determine when he is lying and when he IS NOT. For maximum success, you must discover when he first BEGINS to lie. You must also learn to discern WHAT A LIE IS and be able to distinguish it from imagination.
While LYING IS EVIL and needs to be stamped out, IMAGINATION IS NEEDFUL and is one of the chief characteristics of a bright, potentially capable young person. LYING IS AN ATTEMPT TO DECEIVE or to BEAR FALSE WITNESS with selfish or evil intent.
As a child develops in his ability to use a language and matures to the point to where he's able to communicate detailed information, he of necessity has also developed the ability to imagine. This skill begins to be apparent at about three to five years of age. Parents often have a hard time determining the difference between this active, imaginative use of the child's new talent in speaking, and the deceptions which are sure to follow.
We have all witnessed cases such as the following: Little Billy dashed in the house to where his mother was busily washing dishes and exclaimed excitedly, "Mother, Mother, I saw a bear in the tree outside!"
"Aw Billy!" she said.
"Oh yes, yes! He had great big eyes, and big white teeth, and he growled!"
"Now, Billy," said mother, "there are no bears in this country and certainly not up in the trees!" "Well, maybe it was a squirrel then," said the child, still inclined toward excitement.
"No, I wouldn't think so," said the mother.
Then comes the child's response with firm conviction, "Well, Mother, I just KNOW I saw a branch shake in that tree."
As hard as it may be for some to understand, THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO SPANK HIM FOR LYING. The child, in an attempt to break the humdrum and the boredom of being alone with nothing to do, had allowed a shaking branch to trigger his IMAGINATION into an exciting experience which he attempted to share with his mother. THIS IS THE TIME TO TRAIN him how to express his imaginations (without loss of the excitement and the suspense of telling) in such a way that NO ONE IS DECEIVED into thinking there really was a bear.
Nevertheless, Junior IS ON THE THRESH-HOLD OF LYING and if he is a bright youngster, he will soon be trying out his skill -- BE ON YOUR GUARD.
If a parent is vigilant and wakeful, it is POSSIBLE to even discover the very first lie their child tells. Certainly, before he establishes the HABIT, a vigilant parent will know that his child has begun to lie.
One crucial day you, or someone else, will ask the important question, and your child, in order to avoid trouble or to get what he wants, will answer FALSELY.
This is the ZERO HOUR in training! He MUST learn that LYING DOES NOT PAY. It will take more than the few words possible in this article to show you what to do. You will have to employ THE ROD OF CORRECTION in love, with patience and consistency, not only in this situation, but those which will surely follow. You will need GOOD JUDGMENT AND THE SOUND WISDOM THAT ONLY COMES FROM GOD.
Before you can be FULLY SUCCESSFUL in training your child, you yourself must also be convinced that LYING DOES NOT PAY. If there's still a lingering doubt in your mind, you WON'T CONVINCE YOUR CHILD! You had better leave off carnal reasoning and BELIEVE GOD when He says, "ALL LIARS WILL GO INTO THE LAKE OF FIRE" (Rev. 21:8).
To fail to teach and learn this important lesson is a tragedy indeed. Nevertheless, most fathers and mothers of this nation are failing just that.
Many parents believe since their child HASN'T LIED BEFORE, that he DOESN'T LIE. They refuse to CHECK UP on the child's statement to FIND OUT. They have some foolish notion that children who lie are INHERENTLY BAD, instead of realizing that ALL CHILDREN LIE until taught. When they hide their eyes from the problem the situation worsens and their child goes unaided.
Other parents, when they come to realize that their child really is lying, attempt to excuse it by saying, "Oh, he's only going through a stage and it will pass with time."
NO! He's going through a period when he NEEDS TO LEARN not to lie, and HIS PARENT IS FAILING HIM at the moment that parent is needed most. Such a child will probably NEVER emerge from the "lying stage," but will continue to tell lies, at least "little white lies," the rest of its life.
Yes, your child instead of LEARNING NOT TO LIE because lying is UNPROFITABLE, will be daily GAINING IN THE EXPERIENCE OF LYING while you sit idly by excusing yourself saying, "He or she is going through a cycle." All lies, whether they're little and white or big and black, have to be ACCOUNTED FOR.
Your child will FAIL TO DEVELOP many character traits if it is a liar. One of these traits is TRUE TACTFULNESS. The person who lies believes that to be tactful you just simply tell a (little) lie to avoid embarrassment. The person who does not resort to this CHEAP and EVIL way out of a situation, learns to rely on the important principles of DISCRETION, SOBERNESS, POLITENESS and PATIENCE. These are unfeigned and irreplaceable in Christian character.
If you are awake to your child's needs on lying, you will also be awake to his needs in other directions. Tendencies toward DISOBEDIENCE, SELFISHNESS and CRUELTY, show up early in the lives of children. A parent who keeps a child close enough to know what that child is doing, WILL BE ON HAND to help in the time of need. The parent who turns the child out to go where he pleases, or for the "neighbors to raise" while GOING ABOUT OTHER THINGS, is indeed a SLOTHFUL and a NEGLECTFUL parent. He or she is sinning against their child, and against the CREATOR.
If you have been failing to rear your child properly, DO NOT FAIL ANY LONGER but begin immediately to repent and to do all you can to correct the situation. Read Mr. G. T. Armstrong's articles on child rearing in The PLAIN TRUTH, study your Bible for God's direct instruction, and pray fervently for the wisdom you need. God will not fail you (read James 1:5). YOU QUIT FAILING HIM AND YOUR CHILDREN.