Trusted news anchor Brian Williams shared an amazing story about being in a helicopter when it was shot down during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The only problem with the story? The crew on the helicopter that was shot down didn't remember Williams being on their helicopter or the others flying in formation with it.
When Williams was confronted about his story, he ultimately admitted that he was not on that helicopter. His misstep cost him his coveted evening anchor seat, at least for a time.
Williams isn’t the only one who struggles to remember details accurately. Many employers are finding job applicants with embellished resumes – not necessarily a bold-faced lie, but stretching the truth for sure. Many students who feel the pressure of applying to colleges and needing to stand out in the crowd have found “creative” ways of describing their high school career and extracurricular activities.
Most parents know that dishonesty at any level creates an atmosphere of mistrust within relationships. That's why among the character qualities they try to instill in their children, telling the truth is close to the top of the list. Yet those same parents are often dishonest in front of their children.
Some may remember the episode of Andy Griffith where Andy was trying to teach Opie the importance of being honest. Opie sold his bike to a friend, but failed to tell him all of the things that were wrong with the bike. Andy told Opie that he would have to tell his friend the truth about the bike. In the midst of the bike saga, Andy has the opportunity to sell his home. When the potential buyers came to look at the house, Opie began telling them all of the things that were wrong with the house. Andy got mad at Opie for telling the “house secrets.” Totally confused, Opie looked at his dad and said, “I thought you said it was important to tell the truth no matter what.”
Telling the truth is honoring to individuals and helps build healthy trusting relationships. But it is important not to stop there. Parents need to help children understand how to be honest in difficult situations and why honesty is the best policy.
Here are some helpful suggestions for parents:
- Make sure your behavior is honest.
- Share about a time when you were dishonest and the consequences of your actions.
- Model honest expression that shows respect and compassion for the other person.
- Start when your children are young teaching them the difference between honesty and dishonesty.
- Look for teachable moments on television or in real life to show the consequences of not being honest.
- Praise your children when they tell you the truth.
- Teach your children about the benefits of doing the right thing and being trustworthy.
- Model integrity, because you are your word. If people can't trust you, you'll miss out on many great opportunities in life.
Many will testify that it may take a really long time, but truth always reveals itself. Do you want to be a truthful or deceitful person?