Question:I am the mother of an 11 year old daughter. My husband adopted her due to the absence and disregard of her biological father. For several years, my mother, father, and sister had been teaching her to be deceitful to my husband and I. Now, we are struggling with how to help her see and understand that our wishes and requests are for her best and should be followed, regardless of what others say. How do we "win back" this child who has been schooled in deceit?
Of course, the most important first step to take is prayer. I challenge you to look in the concordance of your Bible for all the verses that emphasize truth and integrity. Once found, pray them specifically and regularly for your daughter. (Here's a start! Proverbs 10:9; 1 Corinthians 13:6; Proverbs 12:22)
Another potent way you can teach integrity is to demonstrate it and talk about it. One of our joys as parents is to get to build up our children's "wisdom foundation." Godly wisdom directs us to do the right thing for the right reasons. By consistently explaining the "why" behind your instructions, you are building a foundation of wisdom principles that your daughter can use and apply in other situations, as well. And, certainly, that type of self-management is one of the goals of parenting.
It would be a good use of your time to start proactively assessing with your daughter the consequences that deceitful people experience. Try using biblical characters, as well as the evening news. Getting her to voice her opinions is the objective here, along with developing an ability to analyze results. God's desire for our integrity is for OUR benefit!
Lastly, set strong boundaries when lies are told or deception takes place in her life. Don't let this situation be swept under the rug...take a stand. Set a consequence for that action and stand firm. I would also suggest checking out the "Behavior Contract" as discussed in our free parent tip sheet "How to Discipline with Consistency."
Here is a sample Behavior Contract:
What is the issue:
In the midst of all this, be sure to heighten the amount of time you spend simply enjoying your daughter. It's important in times of particularly intense instruction that she know "everyone has things they're working on," that she sense your unconditional love and know that you have utter confidence in her progress toward integrity. Don't forget to delight in this precious gift you've been given!