Honesty

Honesty is something some of my family members seem to struggle with, whether it is out and out lying, being deceitful, or purposely withholding information to be manipulative.  I have a child who prides himself on how sneaky he can be getting away with things, and he very much reminds me of his dad who has modeled that behavior for him over the years.  And he learned it from his family growing up, along with how to manipulate people, which he has also tried to pass on to the kids.  I’m sorry, but that isn’t a family trait to be proud of, how good of a liar you are or how good you are at being deceitful.

The thing is, there’s really no need for all of this.  Part of the problem is there is an assumption made that whatever it is that they want, they are going to get told no, so then they start scheming to figure out how to get what they want at all costs.  It’s more important to get what they want regardless of how many lies they have to tell in the process.  I am always more upset at the lies and the scheming than whatever else.  And much of the time, I would be agreeable to what they want in the first place, so it’s really not necessary.  I am a very straight forward person who doesn’t like to play games, so I would rather just have them tell me what’s going on or what they want and talk about options than to deal with all the dishonesty.

Another part of the problem is that they expect to always get what they want, which can’t possibly happen.  But I would be more apt to have it work out that they get what they want if there was more of an effort on their part to be honest, work together, and not react like a spoiled kid when they don’t get their way.  My work has been cut out for me trying to teach the kids that it’s better to be upfront and willing to compromise and earn what you want than find an underhanded way to get it with what their dad and his family has modeled for them.

Unfortunately, this is not just isolated to my family members.  I have experienced this with other people as well, even people who I have hired to do work at my house.  A big part of having integrity is has to do with how honest you are and whether you are willing to admit that you made a mistake, especially when you are providing a service for someone.  Trying to cover up your mistakes or keep from being caught in a lie, especially if it is going to make someone else look bad in the process, is never a good idea.  It’s even worse than just plain lying in my book, but I have been on the receiving end of that too.

None of us are perfect and never tell a lie, and sometimes there is a good reason to keep a secret or withhold some information to avoid hurting someone’s feelings or to protect someone somehow, but just to be manipulative and get what you want is not a good reason.  Every time we as parents tell a lie in front of our kids, no matter how small it is, is setting the example for them that’s it’s OK to do that.  So we need to be very conscious of how often and in what circumstances we are doing that and then explain that to them as well.  If we are always trying to get away with things and not follow the rules or are trying to cheat the system, then we can’t be surprised when are kids end up doing the same thing.

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Proactive vs. Reactive Approach to Life

There are plenty of things in life that we can all approach either proactively or reactively.  House projects immediately come to mind.  In my house, nothing gets replaced or fixed until it is actually broken.  I definitely would appreciate if more things were dealt with on a proactive basis.  Our health is another example.  The more we take care of ourselves by eating healthy, drinking fluids, exercising (or at least making an effort to not sit still in front of a screen for too long), going to regular doctor’s visits, and anything else we can do to help keep our bodies and minds healthy, the less we need to be reactive and take medications or visit the doctor or hospital to treat the resulting symptoms.  We can make and effort to keep in touch with people rather than complain or be upset when others don’t reach out to us.

How we interact with people on a regular basis can be thought of as proactive or reactive as well.  We can assume when people are speaking to us that there are hidden messages or ill intent in what they are saying and react in a negative way, or we can listen without the negative filter and give them the benefit of the doubt.  We can treat people with respect and kindness, regardless of how we are being treated (in other words, treat people the way we want to be treated), or we can “do unto others as they have done to us.”  We can go out of our way to be helpful and generous or do anything to put a smile on someone’s face, or we can only do something nice when we know there will be something in it for us.  We can complain about all of our problems and play the victim, or we can find ways to be part of the solution.  We can blame everyone else for our poor choices, or we can be accountable for our own words and actions and own up to our mistakes.  We can anticipate that things are not going to work out the way we want them to, or we can have hope and expectations that are more positive. We can communicate our thoughts and feelings completely and effectively, or we can be upset when someone can’t read our mind.  We can set a good example for our kids of how to be respectful, honest, and all the other traits that go along with having good character, or we can not be conscious of the example we are setting and then come down hard on our kids when they are behaving just like we are. The list goes on.

The bottom line is that all of these things are conscious choices we can make.  It’s hard to not be reactive at least some of the time, especially when negative emotions get involved.  But in my opinion, it is definitely worth the effort to take a proactive approach to life and our relationships as much as we can.  I hope you agree.

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Manipulation

I’m a pretty straight-forward person who doesn’t like to play games or feel like someone is playing games with me.  I also grew up with a step-mother who was a champion manipulator, which significantly affected my brothers’ and my relationship with our dad, other family members, and each other.  Therefore, I have no patience for people who like to manipulate.  So perhaps you can imagine how upset I get when I find out that not only does my husband think it’s necessary to find ways to manipulate myself and others, but he is also teaching our kids this by example and by involving them in the process.  I would say it’s one of the top three things that infuriate me because it’s so fundamentally wrong, yet it still happens on a regular basis.

The thing that bothers me the most is that he is reinforcing to the kids the notion that it is more important to get what you want at any cost, regardless of how many lies you have to tell or how deceitful you need to be.  It undermines many of the things I am trying to teach them about what it means to be a good person with integrity and good character. Continue reading

Making A Difference

jane_goodall_quote2

This is the time of year when most people are a little more conscious of what they can do to have a positive impact on the world around them. We think of ways we can be more giving, whether it’s through volunteering our time or donating money to a good cause. Some people make a conscious effort to think more about the things for which they can be grateful. Then there are those who might consider performing a random act of kindness.  It’s a typical time to do things like thank others who serve us such as people in the military by sending Christmas cards or care packages.

Beyond that, some people focus more on the smaller things that can have a positive impact like finding a way to put a smile on a stranger’s face, using words of affirmation with the people we love, surprising someone with a phone call, or anything along those lines. These are all things that can and should be done year round, of course, but for many people these things are not second nature and require conscious effort, which may be difficult to maintain. They can become second nature though if they are done often enough.

Just as important is to be conscious of how you might be NEGATIVELY impacting those around you and try NOT to do those things. One does not cancel out the other, so (hypothetically speaking) volunteering at a soup kitchen does not make up for speaking to others very condescendingly on a regular basis. All the little things add up, so whether we are making them positive or negative experiences can make a big difference. A day that involves having to park far away from a store because the only close parking spot had two shopping carts with garbage in them left there, people driving unsafely around me, multiple people being rude or impatient, and finding out someone lied to me is a lot different from one that involves a friend texting just to say they’re thinking about me, a stranger complimenting me on my coat, someone offering to return my cart to the store for me, and my kids thanking me more than usual for things I do for them or randomly giving me hugs or telling me they love me. At the end of the day I could be in a completely different mood.

So please take Jane Goodall’s advice and decide what kind of difference you want to make, and hopefully chose to make it a positive difference in any big or small way you can. A multitude of small things can have just as big of an impact as one big thing.

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Being a Good Role Model and Setting Standards

role modeling

This is so true, but it seems to me that there are a lot of parents out there who don’t understand this and/or who don’t see how their own behavior is so different than what they expect from their kids.  I’m certainly not a perfect role model, but at least I am aware of when I occasionally do something that is the opposite of what I am trying to teach my kids.  The one example that comes to mind is losing my cool when I am always trying to get them to stay calm and not overreact to various situations.  I do talk to my kids about that when it happens and let them know I am aware I have not been setting a good example and at least try to explain why.  Then I tell them I will continue trying to improve.

I can think of plenty of other examples that I have witnessed where parents say one thing to their kids and then do the opposite themselves.  Lying and being deceitful is a big example in my house. Continue reading

Sincerity

Some people come off as being very sincere and genuine, while others do not for a variety of reasons.  The first reason that comes to mind has to do with sarcasm.  I have a somewhat sarcastic sense of humor, and so do plenty of people in my life.  That’s not the kind of sarcasm I am talking about.  I’m talking about when people generally respond to things and speak to people with a very sarcastic tone to what they say. This often comes off as being very condescending and insincere. This is especially true when it comes to apologies. “I’m sorry I’m such a bad person” or “I’m sorry I committed such a crime” doesn’t sound sincere at all.  In fact, it doesn’t even sound like an apology.  It sounds like you don’t think you need to apologize.  I would much rather hear something like, “I’m sorry I (fill in the blank). I didn’t realize I was hurting your feelings, but now I do.  I’ll try not to do that anymore.”  That sounds sincere.  And so does, “You’re right, I shouldn’t have done that. I’m sorry.”

Anyone who is dishonest, deceitful, or makes promises they have no intention of keeping is not a sincere person either.  I have a hard time believing anything that comes out of the mouth of someone who is like this.  I am always wondering if they are just saying what they need to in order to get what they want or if they are up to something.

People who don’t seem to be sincere don’t come across as being very trustworthy either.  They go hand in hand.  Being trustworthy isn’t just about being reliable.  It’s about people believing you mean what you say and that your word means something, which is hard to believe when your sincerity is questionable.  Respect and trust really are the easiest things to lose and the hardest things to get back, and sincerity plays a big role in that.

sincerity and truth

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