Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Teens Tread the Muddy Waters of Honesty by YA Author Cynthia T. Toney

Remember the first time a child looked you in the eye and asked why someone lied? If you were that someone and you’re like me, the answer was tough to give.

Grandma and Grandpa didn’t know you smoked. You couldn’t tell Aunt Marie you threw out the casserole she made. You didn’t want to go to that birthday party, so you pretended you were sick.

Young children most often view situations and reactions to them as black or white, bad or good, wrong or right.

Discernment is more difficult for teens. Most think of themselves as honest and don’t want to lie, but sometimes they are confused. Teens see and hear lies being told all around them, probably every day. On television, in movies, and in real life. And when lies don’t seem to do any measurable harm, it’s easy for teens to enter a gray, muddy area. There they may not be able to determine when a lie or withholding of the truth is just plain wrong.

They may think lying is sometimes necessary. When is a lie necessary? Only to save a life—or simply to spare someone’s feelings?
Cynthia's newest book,
releases 12/6! 

You or I may have years of experience in avoiding a direct answer that would hurt someone’s feelings. We may answer with a compliment about something else in order to save a relationship. Teens may not have practiced this art. And it is an art of deception, if we’re honest with ourselves.

Of all things important to teens, relationships are way up high on the list. And that’s the point we can use to guide them regarding their honesty.

Just as brutal honesty can sometimes damage relationships, dishonesty is certain to ruin them. Dishonesty with parents, teachers, friends, employers, coworkers. Teens may not consider how a lie about the car, schoolwork, tardiness, keeping a date, or numerous other seemingly small lies can affect the trust they receive from others in the future. And the future of relationships they need, whether they recognize their importance now or not.

To start a conversation with your teen about honesty, something fun to do is to take an honesty quiz such as this

Christian Teen Honesty Quiz: How Truthful Are You?

The introduction states that about 83% of teens believe that moral truth depends on a particular situation. As a family member of a teen, how do you feel about honesty and what do you expect from your teen? Now is the time to talk about it.

Interesting survey statistics about teens lying, cheating, and stealing can be found in
5 Things to Do When You Know Your Teen Is Lying on Crosswalk.com.

Statistics particular to academic dishonesty can be found in Teen Dishonesty at TeenHelp.com.https://www.teenhelp.com/teen-issues/teen-dishonesty/

We can sometimes reach our teens through fiction that addresses issues of our concern. A novel can demonstrate how teens handle situations that are muddy regarding honesty.

The third book of my Bird Face series, 6 Dates to Disaster, tackles the subject of dishonesty in school and withholding truth from parents.

When the main character’s family faces financial hardship, she must find a way to earn money to fly to Alaska to see her surrogate grandmother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s. Wendy has only a few months to acquire enough money for her fare. What seems like the perfect opportunity to achieve her goal presents itself, but she handles the situation badly and risks permanent damage to her relationships and her future.

Learn more about Cynthia and all of her books at her author page at WriteIntegrity.com


Shirley Crowder said...

Cynthia, thank you for this good advice. As a Biblical Counselor I often am helping children, teenagers, and parents deal with the results of dishonesty.

I've heard myriad excuses for not being honest, yet they all fall short of God's mandate, don't they?

Ephesians 4:14-15 is my "go to" verse for this issue. Paul is telling the Ephesian believers to NOT be deceived by the thinking of the world but to "speak the truth in love." I remind my counselees, and myself, of the following: Truth is NOT truth if it is not 100% truth AND 100% love (grace). And, Love is NOT love if it is not 100% love (grace) AND 100% truth.

Thanks for sharing, Cynthia! Looking forward to reading your new book!

Cynthia T. Toney said...

Hi, Shirley. Thank you for taking the time to share your experience as a Biblical Counselor. Teens today seem to be exposed to and influenced more by the world outside their families and spiritual communities than I was as a teen. I'm so glad families have help from individuals like you.