What does it feel like when someone accuses you of lying? When you tell them something, but by default, they don’t trust you.
It feels terrible. Frustrating. Humiliating.
This is what your kids feel when you assume the worst.
If they know you don’t trust them, why would they come to you for anything? Why would they trust you to be fair when adjudicating disputes? All you do is snuff out their light, and in that darkness, a well of bitterness will get deeper and deeper.
Kid’s lie. They omit the truth. Sometimes there are good reasons why they have lost your trust.
But remember that they are but dust. You, of all people, should be ready to wipe their slate clean. Love covers a multitude of sins.
If they tell you something, take them at their word. Use the words “I trust you” liberally. Reiterate how valuable that trust is.
If you suspect dishonesty, the worst thing you can do is throw out baseless accusations. Trust first. Pray that the truth will come out and be verified.
If you find proof of dishonesty, give them a chance to confess, and always reward that confession. There should still be a punishment for lying, but there should always be a reward for confession. Overwhelm them with love and fellowship. Like the father who sees the prodigal son returning, run to them and prepare a feast of reconciliation.
Sometimes, that feast can just be ice cream.
I will reiterate: trust your children. Even if you have definitive proof of a lie, give them an opportunity to confess.
Do not start by hurling accusations. Accusations are the tool of Satan and they will drive your children right into his terrible arms. We want fellowship and reconciliation, not guilt and divisiveness.
Above all, pray. Pray for God to prick their conscience. Pray for your own patience. And show them what confession looks like by doing it yourself when you have done wrong. If you are honest, there are things you do every day which would make a good apology and confession.
I’ve had my own children come and confess wrongdoing without me forcing the issue, and it is a beautiful opportunity to show them what unconditional love means in practice. Teach them how much better it is to get the sin out in the open so the wound can be lanced and bandaged.
Otherwise, sin will begin to rot their bones.
For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.Psalm 32:3