May
17

Parenting 101, part two

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Here is another Parenting 101 principle: Don’t believe everything your children tell you happened at school.

I am not suggesting that you regard your child as a liar. I am suggesting that you be wise. A pastor I once worked with used to say, “There are three sides to every story: my side, your side, and the truth.” There is truth to his statement. Your child will inevitably tell the story from her perspective and so will tell it a certain way. She will include certain details while omitting others. She will reverse the order of events or remember something wrong or make inferences that sound like facts.

Or perhaps she is lying. That is indeed a possibility. Solomon wrote in Proverbs that foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child. That includes sins like lying. If you believe your child is incapable of lying, you should go back to what the Bible says about her.

So don’t automatically believe everything your child says about what happened at school. Instead, try to understand what happened as best you can. Ask your child questions in a calm and even tone. Seek facts, not interpretations and inferences. Then, call or approach your child’s teacher as soon as possible. Avoid accusing your teacher before hearing her perspective. Ask what happened and listen carefully.

I have observed parents who listen to the story their child tells and then go to the teacher and point the finger angrily, accusing the teacher of unfairness or inconsistency without allowing the teacher a single word of explanation. Also, I have observed parents who listen to the story their child tells, accept every word, and then refuse to go to the teacher at all but instead bury the grievance, which quickly rots into bitterness and anger. In either case, this is a formula for a poisoned parent-teacher relationship. The Bible calls us to peace, not poison.

My own children have come home and reported an occurrence at school that was unsettling or problematic. We talked to the teacher and found out that what really happened was quite different from what we were told. Or, we found out that what happened was accurate, but it had been dealt with. In either case reacting based on my children’s account alone — or reacting with my emotions bent out of shape — would have been the worst thing I could have done.

A teacher once said, “If you promise not to believe everything your child says happens at school, I’ll promise not to believe everything he says happens at home.” Sounds like a good agreement to abide by. 

Comments

  1. Parent 001 says:

    HA!!! You don’t have to go to school for that to happen around our house! Our kids know who to ask and how to ask it… what to include and – perhaps more importantly – what to exclude in order to minimze the consequenses of an action/choice or to maximize the possibility getting to do what they desire/”must” do…

    When it comes to kids, taking things at face value as pure truth – well, that is only skin deep… Parents should always ask the deeper questions to get to the real truth… Naturally, truth to an 8, 10 or 12 year old is much different than the truth to a parent or teacher… The understanding and comprehension of events is just not there yet for a young person…

    I feel Ronald Reagan said – it best in explaining how he was going to deal with the USSR, notorious for its lies and re-interpretations of Treaties…

    “Trust, but Verify”

    Words to live by no matter who we are dealing with or how old one is…

    Thanks for Sharing Mr. Bryant….

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