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A Biblical Way to Address Lying in Kids

If you have discovered your child is lying, you are not alone. It is a common misbehavior. Here is a biblical model from John 4 to address lying in kids.

In John chapter 4, Jesus had an encounter with a Samaritan woman at a well where he graciously confronted a pattern of sin. We can use this interaction as a model for how to deal with a recurring sin issue in our children. Today we will focus on a common issue: lying in kids. Keep in mind, these suggestions represent a series of conversations you should have with your children over a period of time – not necessarily all at one time.

Don’t avoid addressing the lying

I get it. You’re tired. Parenting can be exhausting at times. It can be tempting to just let things slide. We may even convince ourselves that our kid’s lying problem is “not that bad”. But we need to remember that our job as parents is “missional.” Jesus went through Samaria instead of around it like most Jews of his day would have. He was on a mission to help that woman face her sins and leave them behind her. We need that same kind of purpose and resolve when we decide to address a pattern of lying in our children.

Connect with your child

When Jesus met the woman at the well, He made the first move. He asked her for water because he was thirsty. When we approach our child to address a sin pattern we see, we too need to find a way to connect. You could say something like (if it’s true!), “I really struggled today. I was telling a story to a friend and I found myself exaggerating what actually happened. I am not sure why but lying seems so easy at times.” By finding common ground, you create space for a conversation that is non-threatening. A “holier than thou” approach was never Jesus’ way.

Dig deeper by asking good questions

When Jesus spoke to the woman about her need for water, it wasn’t really about water at all. He used her physical thirst to uncover the underlying spiritual thirst she had. When we address a sin issue in our children, we can dig deeper too. You can say, “I’ve noticed a pattern emerging and I want to help you get to the bottom of it.” Ask questions that will help you uncover what their soul is really thirsty for.

  • What need is lying meeting for them?
  • Are they lying to get something or to avoid something?
  • Do they lie out of fear?
  • Do they lie for attention?

An honest discussion about the very needs of their heart will be illuminating.

Talk about the consequences

Jesus addressed the elephant in the room with the woman at the well. He pointed out a long standing pattern of sin:  she was living with a man, and it wasn’t the first time. He didn’t shame her, he just shined the light of truth on the facts. The power to convict someone of their sins is not our job, it’s the job of the Holy Spirit. But we can gently illuminate the facts and the consequences of repeated sin behavior. You could say something like, “When you lie, it makes it hard for me to trust what you say. I don’t like that nagging doubt I now get in the back of my mind when you tell me what happened.” You can also discuss the following:

  • How their relationships may be impacted by a pattern of lying
  • The importance of truth and how the world would operate if it were not there as a foundation
  • How our conscience can become numb to the voice of the Holy Spirit the longer we choose to engage in a particular sin. 1 Timothy 1:18-19 talks about a spiritual “shipwreck” of the soul if your conscience is ignored

Point to hope in Jesus

Jesus came right out and told the woman at the well that he was the Messiah. This was the first time Jesus revealed His true identity. Her shame evaporated and she ran back to tell the villagers about a man who had “told her everything she had ever done.” These are the same villagers she was trying to avoid by going to the well in the heat of the day. The fact that He met her where she was, pointed out her sin yet did not condemn her, made her heart ripe for change.

One of my favorite scriptures to share with those who are struggling with sin is Romans 7:14 – 8:8. It’s really important that you don’t stop at the end of chapter 7. The hope is in chapter 8. We are not slaves to sin because there is “no condemnation in Jesus.” If our children know the Lord, lying will create this sort of inner conflict expressed by Paul in these verses. But there is hope! And that hope is in Jesus. We an encourage our children to pray something like this: “Lord, help me to win this battle against lying today. And if I fail, help me to accept your forgiveness. Give me a desire to live in a way that is pleasing to You.”

Do it in humility

You may struggle with the idea of addressing sins you see in your children when you know that you struggle too. While it is true that Jesus was perfect and we are not, He gives us sinners a way to address the sin we see in others. In Matthew 7:5, He tells us to examine ourselves first. Our eyes can become riddled with planks of wood if we are not careful. A daily practice of asking God to search our hearts and cleanse us will keep those planks at bay so we can see clearly to help our children with their specks.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for treatment from a qualified mental health professional. Cornerstones for Parents is not liable for any advice, tips, techniques, and recommendations the reader chooses to implement.

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About Laura

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Laura is a licensed clinical social worker who offers individual therapy to women and moms in Connecticut. She is the author of More Than a Conqueror, A Christian Kid's Guide to Winning the War on Worry. Cornerstones for Parents is the place she combines some of the things she is most passionate about: God's word, parenting and mental health.

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