We recently took our kids on what would be our last family holiday before our daughter’s wedding. It was an all-inclusive deal where you are adorned with a wristband of different colours according to your age.

The blue adult wristband lets you enjoy all the resort has to offer, but the yellow youth wristband comes with some restrictions. It was tempting to tell the clerk that we were all adults, so that our son – who was only five months shy of the age cut-off, and the tallest of us all – could enjoy all the water equipment without having parental supervision.

Who would have known?

It would seem innocent enough: the resort employees weren’t checking I.D., and who would have known the difference?

We would have known. And, more importantly, our kids would have, too. They would have watched us lie, and their attitudes toward truth would have been forever changed. So, he got the yellow band and we got the opportunity to teach something to our kids while we were away.

Children learn by example

So much of what our children learn is simply modelled by their parents. When our daughter was just beginning to talk, I (Lois) noticed she had an annoying habit of clucking her tongue after each sentence. When I remarked about this to Steve, he laughed and informed me that I do the same thing. In the same way that kids mimic our physical habits, they carefully watch, learn and mimic our moral standards.

Let’s face it, the opportunities to take advantage of these teachable moments for truth abound! When you take a shopping trip across the border, what do your children hear you tell the customs officer upon your return? What do they hear you tell your boss on the phone when you don’t want to go into work? Receiving the wrong change from a cashier might seem like a gift, but the real gift is having the opportunity to demonstrate honesty to the youthful eyes that are watching you.

Be truthful and honest every day

Set a good example for your children. Be truthful and honest in your own everyday behaviour. And when you blow it, apologize to your kids right away. We all want to raise children of high moral character, but we need to first look at ourselves and see if we’re reflecting those same characteristics we hope to see in them. After all, honesty isn’t something we just tell our children, it’s something they need to see.

Steve Wilson is Focus on the Family Canada’s regional director for B.C. He and his national team provide real help for the families and marriages in your church and community by speaking at a wide range of events.

© 2008 Focus on the Family (Canada) Association. All rights reserved.

If you liked this article and would like to go deeper, we have some helpful resources below.

Our recommended resources

Join our newsletter

Advice for every stage of life delivered straight to your inbox