An Uncomfortable Moment of Truth 737.1

When my daughters were younger and wanted to spend time with me, I used to take each one on an out-of-town trip for alone time.

An especially memorable one was with my youngest daughter Mataya when she was seven. We went to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. and had a wonderful time touring and talking about American history, the Liberty Bell, the Declaration of Independence, Abraham Lincoln, and even the first moon walk.

It was a great daddy moment when Mataya told me it was the best trip of her life. I told her it was my best trip, too.

She looked skeptical, and with great earnestness she asked, “Daddy, do you say that to all my sisters?”

You should know, Mataya is extraordinarily principled. When she was four, she learned that some of the food she was eating was once a live animal. She decided on the spot to become a vegetarian, and to this day she’s never wavered from that decision.

Her question hit me like an uppercut to my conscience. I tried to finesse my answer by saying how I really loved every trip with my girls, but that one really was special.

She didn’t buy it and nailed me with a family code. Whenever one of us wants a positively no-nonsense, truthful answer, we say, “Really, really?” It imposes an absolute obligation on the other person to be totally honest.

It was an uncomfortable moment of truth. I’d been “really-really-ed,” so I confessed: “Yes, I’ve said that before.”

After a moment, she said, “So you lied to me.”

I tried to weasel out of it by telling her how much I did love our time together, but she stopped me cold with a line that made me proud of her and ashamed of myself: “Next time, just tell me it was one of the best trips of your life. I don’t like it when you lie to me.”

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

Comments 2

  1. I have one daughter, and when she was younger, she would ask if she (or we) could get something, go somewhere, or do something. I learned early on that if I said, “yes”, but was unable to do what she had asked about, she would be upset with me for lying to her. I learned to use the term “We’ll see.” As she got older, she would roll her eyes every time I said it. Now that she is a mom of four children, she told me recently that she has begun to use the same term, “We’ll see.”
    She now understands why that term was used more often than “yes” or “no”. As a single mom, I couldn’t always fit everything into the schedule, but I didn’t want to say “no” to everything she wanted. She has the same issue now with so many requests, that she has to delay an answer until everything has been scheduled for each child.
    It is really important not to say something you can’t back up. Things we say to make our child happy in the moment will come back to haunt us, if it isn’t completely truthful.
    Thank you for your inspiration to be good, ethical people and to teach our children to be the same.

  2. I am a 53-year-old adult who was that 4-year-old child you mentioned in the article. In any case, the article and one comment I see so far do not address the issue of how one deals with those individuals that do not demand absolute honesty. As I have gotten older, I regret to find myself sliding away from absolute honesty except to those that demand it. We need to show our respect for others by giving them the honesty that they deserve. I do not agree with using language that is strictly accurate while giving the listener the impression that the speaker is agreeing when we are just delaying them or putting them off or avoiding hurting their feelings when the real answer to their request is no. After years of doing my best to be open, honest and respectful of others, when I tell them the truth, they seem to accept my honest answers as heartfelt and non-judgmental. I never want to be judged and I give others they same courtesy!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *