My son is like a walking game of Jeopardy. He’s a very curious, inquisitive (almost) 8-year-old. He asks some questions that make my head spin, some that have simple answers, some that make me laugh so hard that I can’t answer, some that challenge me and some that tug at my heart-strings.
I love that in this Google world that we live in, my son still comes to me with his questions. It’s a time where we connect, we learn, we bond, we laugh and sometimes we cry.
Lately, my son has been asking real questions about hard stuff. He wants to know “Why do people do bad things?”, “What is cancer?”, “Will you ever stop loving me?”, “How come my dad doesn’t show up at important things of mine?”
Oh sweetheart…I don’t have all those answers. But I have always promised to tell my son the truth. When we tell our children the truth we teach them. We not only give them an answer that they’re seeking, but we teach them that the truth is important to relationships, to our growth and to our trust in one another. We teach them by example, that honesty is a value that we hold in high regard. We teach them to be resilient, when the answer is tough or the answer hurts.
There is, however, an appropriate level of disclosure that we should try to maintain. We teach children on their level and the truth should be no different. We disclose the truth to them in a way that teaches them but may also challenge their thinking a little bit. Hard questions usually have hard answers. Personally, I think we do a disservice to our children when we sugar coat the truth with rainbows and unicorns.
Telling our children the truth is crucial to their moral development. We raise truth-tellers from a young age. We teach them how tell the truth and how to receive it by our own example. I want my grown son to one day say to me, “You always told me the truth, even when it was hard.” St. Augustine said, “The truth is like a lion. You don’t have to defend it. Let it loose and it will defend itself.”
This world presents our children with so many opportunities to find a role model. I may ever be my son’s role model for creative Lego building, because let’s be honest, all I can build is a four-sided “house” with half of a roof. I may never be his role model as a world-class athlete or gourmet chef . I will, however, strive everyday to be the person that my son looks to for the truth, both in how to tell it and how to receive it. Cherish the next time your child comes to you with a difficult question and give them the gift of truth. Never feel guilty raising your child in your own image.