At snack time, we all sat down at the table. I asked the five of them (the twins who can’t talk were still napping) to take turns telling me one thing I did to them that they didn’t like. At first, they all just stared at me. They probably thought it was a trick question! But after some reassuring that I wouldn’t get mad, they wouldn’t be punished, and they could only share one thing I was doing wrong, the first kid raised his hand to start the conversation. Here are 3 lessons we all took away.
1. There is a right way to share the truth.
The “Speak the Truth” test started with a little “self-conviction” about the amount of time I spend on my phone. I wondered if my kids noticed. I wondered what else I did that they noticed and I didn’t. I prepared myself for hurt feelings but determined that hearing the truth would be much better than pretending it didn’t exist. This little exercise with my kids ended up being more than a lesson for them. It was an opportunity for all of us to grow closer as a family.
Before the first kid started sharing, I gave the only rule. You must say the truth in a kind and respectful way. I reminded them that even though I was asking them to tell me the truth, how they conveyed it was very important.
I gave them this example: If I made dinner and asked if they liked it, there are two ways to say no:
- Mommy, this is the worst dish you’ve ever made. It was disgusting. It made me want to throw up.
- Mommy, you know, it wasn’t really my favorite. I like when you make ____ more. This flavor was off.
Did it really make you want to throw up? Is it really the worst dish I’ve ever made?
Yes, always tell the truth, but be mindful of how you say it.
2. Hiding the truth is worse than hurting someone with the truth.
One of my older kids said, “Mommy, I don’t want to go because I don’t want to hurt your feelings.” So I went straight to the story of Adam and Eve. We talked about some of the reasons they hid from God after they had disobeyed. I told them we are no different. There will be times when it will seem better to hide the truth rather than tell it. They might think what they’ve done will hurt Mommy or Daddy or make us angry or disappointed. But that shouldn’t stop them from telling the truth because ultimately, we can only help them when they tell us what’s going on.
3. I need truth from family and friends.
After our roundtable, I had a chance to think about how this exercise spoke to me. As women, we need that woman or group of women who will speak the truth to us. We all have an area where we can choose to live more upright. Maybe a friend notices something but is afraid to speak up. Or maybe she’s afraid because she’s also struggling. For whatever reason, we’ve gotten away from holding each other accountable. We’ve gotten away from ultimately desiring to be more like the women God calls us to be. Let’s get back to that together.
Wondering what my kids said?
When I asked my kids to speak the truth, my four-year-old boldly said, “I’m afraid to tell you when I go poop because I think you’re mad when you have to come wipe me.” We all laughed and I had to explain that I’m never mad at her. Sometimes I’m just annoyed with the timing because it seems like she always has to be wiped right when I sit down to relax! I assured her it’s my job to take care of her and that brings me joy.
Interestingly enough, no one brought up the cell phone. Maybe it will come up next time. And when we do this again, I’ll remind them that our words don’t have to be perfect, but they do have to be truthful (and possibly even funny)!
Do you struggle to speak the truth to people? Which one of these lessons is the most important for you?