When my daughter, Amy, was small, she was delightful in almost every way except that she didn’t always tell the truth. If you asked me to describe her, I probably would have said, “Well, she’s five and she is about this tall, has brown hair, is loads of fun, and is a liar.” Like many young children, Amy would get defensive in certain situations and say things that we both knew were not true.
- I didn’t do it.
- I don’t know how it happened.
- It was Jesse’s fault.
I tried many times to convince her that lying was not a good thing. Nothing seemed to work. Then we had a family friend spend a weekend with us, and as Sarah was leaving, she said, “Paul, you might take a look. I think Amy is scared of you.”
I was polite and told Sarah that I appreciated the feedback. In my mind, however, I thought she was crazy. Still, Sarah’s comment rattled me, so I began to reflect on my interactions with Amy, and I began to see how it might be true.
I don’t get angry, but I am quiet. And I’m direct. And I express my disappointment readily. I could see how it might be seen by a five-year-old as kind of scary. So I changed a few things:
- I found three to four hours a week to hang out and play with Amy.
- I never spoke to her if I was upset.
- I told her that she could never get in trouble for anything she did, but I would be disappointed if she didn’t tell me when something happened.
And you know what, the lying disappeared completely. See, I didn’t have a daughter who was a liar. Amy had a father who was scary.
A relationship is built with conversation, and if you don’t talk much, you are scary.
Who might appreciate more of your time and more of your sharing?