The desire for closeness and connection is at the root of all our pursuits in life. It’s the reason we marry, have children and seek friendships. It is the reason why we work so hard to cultivate all the relationships we hold dear. Yet I wonder how many acknowledge honesty as the glue which bonds these highly sought-after connections.
Although universally valued, honesty may be elusive for some. If fear of consequences or rejection is strong, a child will not hesitate to sidestep the truth. For others, the admission of failure may produce feelings of unwanted exposure and shame, prompting the urge to hide behind a mask of deception.
However, the fabric of family intimacy is dependent upon honesty. Humility and bravery are required to ignore the temptations of an “alternative reality”. A child must believe that a strong relationship already exists which can handle the truth. If there is a desire to preserve this healthy connection, a little one will find the courage required in the situation.
The benefits of honesty go beyond the harrowing adventures of childhood. The habits formed in these foundational years forge a model for all future interactions. When transparency and authenticity are experienced as a result of this solid framework, a child will likely be more confident about who he or she is as an adult and embrace reality without fear.
Ultimately, the desire for connection is organic and hardwired in the human brain. We are community oriented and find great joy in connection. The parent/child relationship is the first and most important of all that follow. Time and history will reveal whether the experiences of a person’s childhood were strong and resilient or weak and conditional. The efforts we make now as parents to nurture and support honesty in the home will ensure healthy relationships for our children in the years to come. That is a gift to any family.