My daughters get a little frustrated at me sometimes when I ‘pick on the little things’ as they see it. You know the times when something happens and it seems like ‘no big deal’ to your daughter, but as a parent you recognize that if this moment passes without taking the opportunity to teach, you may have allowed a potential ‘bad seed’ to take root.
For example, Jenna the other evening is talking with her oldest sister in the dining area of the house and I am sitting in the living room. Ashli asks Jenna, ‘did your phone crack or just the protective cover’? Of course that sparks my attention and I lift my head up in their direction and Jenna is peeking at me with that look. You know the one with the ‘ I didn’t want dad to know about that’ kinda look.
I let the conversation play out and then lovingly, but firmly asked her to never do that again. “No need to keep anything from dad. Even something as simple as the condition of your phone … it’s not even about the phone, it’s about the fact you decided to keep it from me”. It wasn’t about trust on her part in this situation, it was about fear in this case. Fear of having a consequence, fear of disappointment.
So, did I over-react? As a parent what do you do? How should we respond? Do we just let it go and not address it? Is it really ‘no big deal?
The ‘phone situation’ ended well with Jenna. Even though she gave me some attitude at first, it wasn’t but an hour later she came back out to the living room, owned up to her attitude, and asked for forgiveness.
In the Bible there is verse that says “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. For whatever one sows that will he also reap”. This verse found in Galatians 6:6 is an outright statement that we will reap the consequences of our actions, whether they be good or bad. If we plant seeds of little white lies and deception, allow them to grow, what we will get in the end … a liar and a deceiver!
What could it eventually look like in our daughter’s lives if we allow ‘the little things’ to just float on by? Think about it for a moment, what might it lead to? How many stories with friends will stretch the truth? How many ‘it wasn’t me’ conversations at home? Pretty soon it’s taking a ‘few extra of something’ that she didn’t pay for. Then it’s inflating a resume to get that job. Later on, never being able to truly connect with her husband because she’s lived a life full of ‘little white deceptions’.
Why do the little things matter so much? Because life is chocked full of them. If we wait only for the big moments to come along, think of all the lost opportunities to help keep your daughter accountable to truth and integrity in her life.
The next time some deception creeps up and you notice it, take a deep breath, collect your thoughts, don’t react and start yelling. Keep a cool head and have a conversation. Stay in control.
Respond in kind to the offense. If she owns it right away, accept it and move on. If she gives some attitude, but is willing to listen, mark it up to progress. If she begins getting defensive, adding another lie on top of the first lie, then you might want to say something like “hey sweetie, my desire is for us to have open, honest conversations. I love you. Having trust with each other is super important in our relationship. In order for trust to continue we have to be honest with each other. I’m not mad at you. Can we start over”? Now, re-address the offense.
If that scenario doesn’t play out well and she sticks to ‘her story’ then you have a decision to make. You may need to give it a short amount of time, let her think about it, and then re-group to talk through it again. Depending on how that goes it will either get resolved, or you will have to re-think some of the freedoms and privileges you’ve extended to her. Letting her know you are re-considering some of those things usually gets her attention that these ‘little things’ are serious.
As a dad, it’s my responsibility to teach through all of life, consistently. So, I will continue bringing up the ‘little things’ and encouraging my daughter that integrity and truth are way more important than a little fear or temporary disappointment.
What has been your experience? I’d be honored to hear from you. Simply, add your comment below and share it!