Yesterday, one of my kids lied to me. It’s school holidays at the moment, so each child is allowed to play on the Xbox for 45 minutes per day. This particular angel of mine has a bent toward TV and devices, so he also has a rule that he can’t get up until 8 am. Otherwise, we would awaken to the sounds of FIFA 2018 at 6 am every morning.
Yesterday, when I emerged into the lounge room and realised he was still on the Xbox, my brain did one of those flips. I was trying to work out the time warp paradox that seemed to have descended upon my house.
“Hey, how come you’re still on the Xbox? Do you have your timer on?”
“Yes.” Straight face, eyes never leaving the screen.
“How much time is left?” says me, my brain trying to compute how 45 minutes that started at 8.30 am could stretch until 9.45 am…
He checks his timer.
“Six minutes.” Calm as a cucumber.
I nearly walked off, so convincing was the performance. But I, being the keen mathematician that I am, just couldn’t get past the fact that there seemed to be an extra hour gone missing. So, I looked at the timer to check how long he’d set it for and discovered it was only set for 6 minutes.
He had no idea how that had happened. He had set his timer for 45 minutes.
By this time, the time warp paradox was fast unravelling. Turns out, my sweet boy had indeed set his timer for 45 minutes but, seeing no one was paying attention, he kept on setting it for 6 minutes. So, if he was questioned, he could execute an Oscar winning performance of checking his timer and throwing his scatter-brained mother off by announcing his time was almost up.
What to do? What to do?
I don’t love being lied to. I hate feeling like I can’t trust my son. And this isn’t the first time he has lied. (In all fairness to him, he has significant trauma in his background and lying is one of his coping mechanisms.) Every now and then, he is blamed for something by my other kids and swears black and blue, in a most offended and belligerent tone, that it wasn’t him. Sometimes, there was no one else around who could’ve committed the crime, so the defence is in vain. Other times, I just don’t know. I hate that it’s hard to defend him or believe him if he’s accused or blamed unjustly.
What do you think? What should I do?
What do you do when your children, or those you disciple, struggle with lying or deceitful behaviour? Why do you say what you say or do what you do?
Now, before you all write me with suggestions, know that I’m not actually asking for advice. Rather, I want us to stop and think about why we do what we do when we disciple others. What story is the what, why, and how of our discipleship and parenting strategies telling others about God? Am I training those I care about to grow and mature in Christ, or am I unwittingly teaching them to become even better at hiding? Or hiding their deceitful behaviors?
Stay tuned. Ponder this for the next week, and then we can talk again!