Bitter and Sweet

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What do preschoolers, lawyers, and politicians all have in common?

They have a hard time telling the truth.

Just kidding (sort of). But for real- our house is struggling with a little bit of 3 year old fib telling. Nothing parents everywhere haven’t had to deal with at some point I’m sure, but yesterday it really came to a head with several blatant not-truths spoken throughout the day to both mom and dad.

At this age, it’s definitely not malicious. It’s just an honest testing of the waters. One of those obstacles on the training ground for moms and dads who are trying to “Raise your kids up in the way they should go.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about the lying, and realized that what bothers me most is the fact that when my daughter lies to me about something that she has done, she is doing it because she is afraid of what my reaction might be to her. As we raise these little ones, I hope that my children feel that they can trust me to be a safe-zone, even if they find themselves in the middle of a real mess.

These little lies are as much a training ground for me as they are for her- showing me areas that I need to work on with my own relationship to my daughter as I navigate the tension between dealing out real consequences for sin while also acting gently and with great love toward my children. It’s not easy.

Anyway, as I heard Olivia spout out yet another fib to her dad yesterday, I knew I needed to come up with something impactful. I needed one of those “creative mom discipline ideas” that I am woefully short on.

Thank God for the Holy Spirit, because just as I was starting to feel completely inadequate for this parenting job, in drops Psalm 119:103. “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.” And a picture of the sticky sweet chocolate in my pantry.

After dinner a little bit later, I told Olivia I was going to make a special treat for her. I got out two tiny bowls and in one I put a decadent piece of dark chocolate which she loves. In the other was some equally rich looking unsweetened chocolate. You know, the kind you found as a kid in your mom’s baking supplies and thought you struck gold till you took a big, bitter bite?

I put the unsweetened chocolate before my eager daughter, and she popped her pinch of chocolate right in her mouth. “Mom, this doesn’t taste so good…”

A swig of water.

The second bite (I can’t believe she trusted me on the second one- hope is not lost!) “This one is yummy!”

“Olivia, do you remember when you told me and your dad lies today? That was like taking a piece of that yucky chocolate there and giving it to mom and dad to eat. It looked good, but when we ate it it made us feel sick. And do you remember when you finally told us the truth? That was like giving mom and dad one of those delicious pieces of chocolate. It made us so happy, it was so sweet and delicious!”

I hope this bitter sweet object lesson sunk in deep and far, but only time will tell. Its funny how little ones absorb and learn, and only down the line do you truly get to see what has taken root. But I am grateful in the meantime to remember that I am “more than equipped for this good work.” And who doesn’t love learning a lesson that includes chocolate??

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