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Honesty is the best policy at any speed

July 24, 2004


"Let God inspire you, make you want to begin to be your best self:

not just to be proved right, but to be willing to be proved wrong

when you are; to learn to laugh when someone trips you up. There is a

great holy hilarity that we haven't even touched in store for the

saints of God."

-- Eugenia Price


"Cindy, I am excited to see you because I told my children about

you and the policeman and the flashing lights, and they didn't

believe me," a friend said after hugging me.

I hugged her back, though I was clearly confused.

"Remember Cindy, years ago in a talk, you told us about pulling

yourself over in front of a parked police car because you knew you'd

been speeding?"

I recalled the talk, which was focused on teaching children about

honesty. The day my friend referred to was one when our daughters

were in early elementary school, and we were doing errands. We often

talked about the fact that God wants us to do the right thing, even

when we don't want to, or it doesn't seem like it would hurt anybody

if we didn't.

I recalled that I was driving on a stretch of road, where my speed

picked up before I started down a hill. Once I crested the slope, I

saw a police car parked on the side of the road. I looked at it, then

at my speedometer, back at the police car, and then pulled over and

stopped. I watched in my rearview mirror as the policeman slowly

approached our car. I lowered the window and said that I hadn't paid

attention to my speed lately and was sorry.

He was very friendly, while explaining that many cars were

speeding there and children lived nearby, and then he gave me a

ticket. I understood, but had to laugh later when our girls were

disappointed that they didn't have the chance to see him flashing his

lights to pull me over.

I also remember some of the other points in my talk on honesty.

Parents can unknowingly or unthinkingly teach children to be

dishonest. One example probably isn't as common today as it was

before caller ID, but if our daughters answered the phone, and I

didn't want to take the call, I didn't say, "Tell them I'm not home."

Instead, I asked if they could take a message because it wasn't a

good time for me.

If one of them wanted more dessert, I didn't try to stop them from

bothering me for more by saying, "The cookies are all gone," if they

weren't. Instead, I said, "There is no more dessert for you today."

If one of them wanted another toy in the store, I didn't say, "I

don't have any more money" (if I did have money) but that we bought

all we needed today. If someone gave me too much change at the

market, I returned it.

I'm sure most parents do their best with their children, but my

friend reminded me that it's easy to slip into what seems easiest at

the time. Of course, I made mistakes then, I did today, and I

probably will tomorrow, but I pray that God will inspire me to be the

best me that I can be.

And you can quote me on that.

* CINDY TRANE CHRISTESON is a Newport Beach resident who speaks

frequently to parenting groups. She may be reached via e-mail at or through the mail at 537 Newport Center Drive,

Box 505, Newport Beach, CA 92660.

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