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Book Notes Christian Living Marriage and Family

Truthfulness

“People typically are offended when they are told a lie.”
-Bishop IRENAIUS

[Part 4 of a 10 part series of book notes
taken from On the Upbringing of Children by Bishop IRENAIUS
]

Chapter 4
Truthfulness

The need for truth and love for it are elements instilled in man by God, and therefore also in children. Original sin, although it has dimmed and weakened this sense of truth, did not destroy it completely. The tendency to truth remains in man. “ (p 26)

  • Children ask lots of questions because they want to know how the world works, they want to know truth.
  • People typically are offended when they are told a lie.
  • People are often embarrassed when they do not tell the truth about something.
  • As parents, we need only assist this natural tendency to grow and be strengthened (p 26)

Three basic principles (p 27)

  1. Teach your children to love truth for the sake of God – because God is Truth and He hates and abhors the sins of lies and falsehood. Only a love for truth that is founded on faith in God and love for Him can withstand any trial.”
  2. Conduct yourself as parents simply and sincerely with your children. Believe them as long as you have reason not to doubt them. Refrain from oaths. If you doubt your child is speaking truth, do not immediately show your disbelief, but first try to ascertain if they are really speaking falsely.

    If the child lies:
    • Call the child to you, look them in the eyes, and with seriousness and love say – “God forbids us to tell lies. He knows everything, even our most secret thoughts, and He hates lying lips.”
  3. Show your children that you also love and honor truth. Be frank and straightforward in all of your own words and actions.

Essential actions to teach the Truth

  • Always tell the truth and honor the Christian Faith.
  • Do not say it does not matter to God if we are correct or incorrect in our faith about Him.
  • Teach your children to nourish special devotion to divine truth.
  • Do not allow indifference towards religion to be sown into your child’s heart.
  • Be for your children a model of love for Christian truth and faith.
  • Be truthful and honest in all of your other human relationships as well, setting an example of honest living for your children.
  • Teach your children from beginning to hate falsehood, because God is truth and every lie is a sin.
  • Children should not avoid lies out of fear of punishment, but rather because God forbids lies.
  • Show your children from Scripture, that God hates lies and Satan is the father of lies:
    • Wisdom of Sirach 20:26
    • John 8:44
  • Don’t overlook your child’s smallest lies. Punishments should start out light and be increased only if the child continues to practice lying.
  • Christian moral law demands even a child to be severely punished for slander or lies that harm others and also to retract his words in public.
  • Do not deceive your own children in small or great matters. Always tell the truth. Be honest.
  • Don’t coerce your child into answering a rebuke that may lead him to lie out of fear.
  • Never praise a child for practicing falsehood as if they were sly or savvy in some way. “Such parents are not worthy of the name” (p 30)
  • Those who do not consider lying a sin will also easily swindle, cheat and steal.
  • Raise your children this way , so that they will be truthful men and women whom God and all honest men will honor

About the book…

“It was not that long ago that pious parents raised their children to become Saints, to serve God in this world and the next.  Perhaps only two generations ago, parents were still raising Saints in Orthodox countries.  But the success of anti-Christianity in our time has been so complete that concern for one’s own salvation is considered, at best, a harmless eccentricity, while concern for one’s children’s salvation is sometimes even considered dangerous by forward-looking educators…To parents struggling in this cold modern climate, we off a small book of timeless guidance on how to teach virtues to children.  The homilies in this book were originally published in Russia in 1901.  The times have changed considerably since then, but human nature has not.  We still have the age-old struggle with the passions, the world, and the fallen spirits.  We must still strive to train out own and our children’s souls to the high ideals of holiness given us by Christ.  May God grant that this book may assist parents in their difficult and delicate task of raising children fit for His Kingdom.

– St. Xenia Skete (October 13/26, 1991)

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