"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
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
firstname.lastname@example.org or through the mail at 537 Newport Center Drive,
Box 505, Newport Beach, CA 92660.