Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Honestly, are you honing in on the virtues or letting them slide?

My good friend Valerie Tarico writes a monthly column about developing virtues.  She starts each post with a note about the particular character trait including a few quotes to ponder, discuss and share and then ends with an example of how one might teach that particular "virtue" to their kids.

Here is what she said about Honesty:

Character Corner: Honesty — musings, quotes, and parenting tips from

by VALERIE on JUNE 16, 2010
Naomi Lahaie and Gwen Hampden
Laura remembers feeling humiliated when, as a child, she was caught in a lie.  But her daughter Julie, age eight, seems almost indifferent when confronted with evidence that she has been dishonest. Last week, for example, Julie went to her friend Anna’s house two doors down without permission.  She turned up home an hour later, saying she had been in the back yard the whole time. 
Laura knew otherwise (she had called Anna’s mom), and she asked probing questions. But Julie stuck to the lie.  When finally confronted with the evidence, Julie just screamed that Laura always spied on her and didn’t let her do anything.
What is honesty?
Honesty is saying what we know or suspect to be real, even when we don’t like the consequences. It is also much more.
Because most deception is actually self deception, true honesty requires that we recognize our natural human penchant for fooling ourselves. In particular, honesty requires that we guard against self-serving biases: our tendency to seek confirmation for what we already believe while ignoring contradictory evidence; our tendency to put blame on others and take credit for ourselves; our tendency to think that what is good for us is good for the world and even to make the gods themselves in our own image.
Honesty is a lifetime process of catching ourselves in falsehood and, however reluctantly, turning away from it.
Five Quotes to contemplate, discuss and share.
Bringing it home to your kids
1.  Rather than focusing on lies, focus on trust, integrity, and self awareness, the virtues you are working to build.  
2. Don’t “test” your child’s honesty.  When you know he or she has committed an infraction, simply state what you know to be true rather than probing for a confession.  Then move on to talking about natural and logical consequences or motives and feelings.  Or, if emotions are too heated, suspend the conversation till all can calm down.
3. Preschoolers frequently blend fantasy and reality.  Rather than treating this as a lie, label it imagination:  “Wouldn’t it be nice if that were true?”  “That would be so fun!”  You can turn it into a game with an even wilder story of your own. 
4. All cultures sanction “white lies.”  Don’t expect perfect self disclosure from your children any more than you do from yourself.  If you want honesty about things that matter though, do make trust a core family value. 
5. Model a balanced pragmatic approach to personal faults.  Perfectionism is the enemy of honest self appraisal.
6. Acknowledge how difficult honesty can be at times.  Reward honesty with respect.  Partner with your child in problem solving to rebuild trust.
    Simone Lahaie at the Cafe Vita's pizza oven
If you enjoyed Valerie's post, here are a few others to check out on her wisdom commons site: