How to Teach Honesty and Forgiveness to a Child Through Your Marriage

When was the last time you lied to your spouse? About anything? How about forgave him when he didn’t deserve it? Ya, I know… those questions make you stop and look around, wondering who’s watching. Or wonder, who can see inside your thoughts. Understanding how to teach honesty and forgiveness to a child happens when you understand your child sees everything you say and do!

honest and forgiving husband and wife kissing with children on their shoulder how to teach honesty and forgiveness to a child

On the surface, these seem like such common sense questions. Honesty. Forgiveness. Ya, sure… I do those things. Truthfully, they’re a lot more complex than we care to admit.

People lie and lies snowball. One leads to another to cover up the first. Telling a friend a half truth only to be found out. Skirting around the edges with your spouse, knowing he’d be displeased with the really-real truth. Forgiveness is surface deep. Saying the words, but not really letting it go.

Why is Honesty So Difficult?

Well, I don’t entirely know.  While some people certainly have more candor than others, everyone lies to some degree. Surely it comes down, at least in part, to fear and acceptance.

People fear rejection so they morph themselves into whatever the situation or person calls for. Folks want to be accepted. So they give acceptable “truths.” Instead of the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

I want my kids to be honest. Brutally honest. The rule of thumb around my house is that while an act of rebellion will bring about a consequence; an honest, repentant heart will always receive a measure of grace.  A lie on the other hand… phew… Look out!

Teaching Honesty to a Child

Lying quickly becomes a habit. Children already have to overcome their sin-nature that tells them, lying to cover up a discretion will help them get out of consequences.

So I ask the question when was the last time you lied to your spouse? to shed light on how much harder we make it for a child to be honest, by setting a poor example.

How your marriage teaches honesty to a child.

Part of why teaching honesty to a child is difficult is because kids are sharp! I couldn’t begin to list the times when my children have asked me about something they should have known nothing about.

They hear our conversations when we don’t know or think they are listening. They see and read our body language. And they become experts at reading between the lines.

Your child picks up on it when you’re vague about how your day was, so you don’t reveal how much time you actually spent on social media.  Or when you providing a hazy answer, because you were particularly short with your child.

Teaching Forgiveness to a Child

In the beginning of my marriage, my black and white personality set my husband up for failure.  When an expectation wasn’t met, I simply could not understand why. It is easy to follow through, I’d say.  You just do what you say you’re going to do, I’d say. That’s that.

Oy.

Poor guy.

I’ve learned over the past 15 years that very few things are actual deal breakers. My husband and I have dug our heels in and decided that we are in this thing to win this thing!

Therefore, hanging on to hurts that are not significant enough to end a marriage is a giant waste of time!

When my husband and I are grumpy, our kids see it. They also see it when we completely let go of it, embrace each other and treat each other as though we’ve never been hurt by the other. That is forgiveness worth teaching to my children.

How your marriage teaches forgiveness to your child

Somewhere around year 10-11, I thought, “what if forgiveness should look completely different? Could I just “let it go? All of it?”

A battle you find yourself fighting over and over is a battle in which to concede. Practicing stellar forgiveness over and over (the kind that’s given without being asked for) is like sharpening a sword. It’s more effective each time. It gets easier.

Same goes for being honest. The things you feel like being vague about fall into one of two categories: either they aren’t as big of an issue as you make them out to be in your mind.

Or they are a big deal and the fact that you are lying or being vague, means you need to stop doing it! Either way, lying is taught to our children through the examples we set!

How to Teach Honesty and Forgiveness to a Child

When my children hurt one another, they must ask themselves a question. Is going to battle over this worth a damaged relationship? (the answer is no)

This life is fleeting. The time we have to make an impact on our children by the example we set, is short. Approaching life like a contest to see how many mountains you can turn into molehills, even when it’s not fair, reaps big rewards and teaches honesty and forgiveness to your child.

The level at which you put this into action is up to you. Just how honest are you willing to be and how much are you willing to forgive? The more the better!

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