DiaryDad puts the “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” in context for his son.
Lying is a new challenge in our household. We all tell lies, we all skirt the truth, mostly in trying to make our lives easier or less uncomfortable. It never works at that way. Maybe for a time but the hard reality is that it
“So we shared with him the fable of ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’.”
catches up to us and that moment of realization and revelation is so much worse than being honest in the moment ever would have been.
I have had more experiences with this character flaw than I care to admit. Which is why as a father I try to help my children avoid it. Now I know they are going to lie to me. I know that I am going to catch them. I know that it is going to involve anger, embarrassment, and tears (Likely on both sides to resolve these incidents.) But… we will resolve them.
About a year ago now we worked through the following at my house:
My son had been caught lying, by his mom (my wife). A punishment had been handed down and we were all in agreement upon it (and by agreement I mean he accepted it… he did not like it). Prior to that occasion he had told me a couple lies that I had caught him in (much to his chagrin). So we shared with him the fable of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” to reinforce why telling the truth is important.
Later that week, my boys had done a great job in helping out with chores leading up to our dinner time. So much so that I had agreed to make them waffles for dinner. With visions maple syrupy goodness in their heads they were gleefully hopping around the house. I proceeded to make dinner and in the process I had to throw a used container into our recycling bag. This bag needs to be put onto its frame in a specific way or else it will fall off and spill out onto the floor. I have demonstrated this many times to my children. It was obvious that this, had not been done.
As is my normal operating procedure I called my son in to show him how to do it. But before I could begin he started in, telling me he had done it right. Obviously he hadn’t and I had been in the kitchen the entire time since he had brought it in. I knew he hadn’t done it despite his insistence that he had. Now he had been so helpful I wanted to give him a grace card, so without getting upset I told him that I knew the truth, and that I would give him a free chance to tell me without being punished… He insisted that he had done it right. Now I was stuck, because I know he didn’t, he won’t admit to it, and it was threatening to derail what had so far been a great evening. So I ask him why he would choose to lie over something so trivial when I know that he didn’t need to.
At this point the tears have turned on and he’s pleading with me that he doesn’t want a punishment and that he is not lying. Meanwhile I am just dumbfounded. So thinking back to the boy who cried wolf I stop and I asked him why he felt like he believes he is telling me the truth when it is now obvious that there is a discrepancy. So he describes his process. As it turns out he had tried to do it correctly, but he had done it outside in the dark (The bag and frame are black). It had slipped off the frame on the way in the house or as he put it away so he believed he had done it correct.
“… the consequence was that here and now, when he was telling me the truth, that I didn’t believe him”
So… I composed myself, and then I asked him how he felt about the situation. Not surprisingly he felt terrible. He was upset that I didn’t believe him and that I was not happy with him despite his pleading that he was telling the truth. Then I asked him what was the consequence of his not telling the truth to his mother earlier in the week, and with despair in his little eyes he told me that he had lost his video game time for the past few days (we were planning to play after dinner now that he had his privileges back). Then I told him he was wrong, and that losing video game time had been his punishment… the consequence was that here and now, when he was telling me the truth, that I didn’t believe him. I pointed out that this was an awful feeling and he agreed. Then we talked about how he needs to work hard to be honest to prove himself so that we don’t find ourselves in the same situation again.
It is definitely difficult to learn our lessons the hard way. Somehow though we need some of these real difficult lessons to drive the point home. I’m glad that my son is having them with me, because at the end of the day I love him and I want him to succeed. If we can get through as many of these life lessons as we can together while he is young, then I will feel like a successful father who will send his son out into the world as a good man.
Photo Credit: the author.