What is the one thing all parents have in common? We lie. Maybe not maliciously. Maybe not for personal gain. But if you have been a parent to a kid who is old enough to ask you questions you’d rather not answer, odds are you’ve lied. Let’s face it, sometimes lying is easier than explaining the complicated truth.
”Where do babies come from?” “What were you and mommy doing during nap time?” Why isn’t my pet hamster moving anymore?” These are tough questions to answer. But if your answers to the tough questions are, “it’s magic”, “we were wrestling,” or “he’s sleeping,” welcome to the club. You’re a liar!
Lying is generational. My parents lied to me about Santa Claus, about how far away we were from our destination on vacation, and my dad often told me I was adopted. So naturally when I had kids of my own, I carried on the tradition. The Easter bunny was real, we’d be there soon, and chocolate milk came from brown cows.
Here’s the problem though; our kids grow up! There comes a specific point in time where the lying stops working. My kids are teenagers now, and they hold me to my word – every single time. I can’t make up facts anymore to provide quick answers to their questions. They can expose my dishonesty with a ten second Google search.
The truth is that the older we get, the more problematic lying becomes. It moves from being innocent to insulting. From being cute to complicated. In the real world, lies hurt us. But why do they hurt? They hurt because they destroy trust. Trust is like relational super glue. You don’t really notice it’s there until it’s not there, and things start to fall apart.
I once heard someone say that trust is gained in drops but lost in buckets. I think this is true. We live in a world that is trust-deficient. Nobody trusts anymore. You can’t trust our leaders, you can’t trust the news, you definitely can’t trust the internet, and we can barely trust each other. We’ve all been burned just enough to make us wary of putting too much trust in any one person.
It’s not just trust in other people that is the issue. We have to turn the mirror back on ourselves. How good is your word? How trustworthy are you? I believe we want to be honest, and we want to keep our promises. But if you look back through your life, can you honestly say you’re pitching a perfect game in the honesty department? I can’t, and odds are neither can you.
All of this talk about honesty brings us to a single conclusion. We cannot guarantee anything. There is not a promise in the world that we can make with absolute certainty. It sounds great to tell someone that we will, “be there forever,” or that we will “never let them down.” However, we have all seen infinite scenarios that render those promises null and void.