Are we teaching our children how to be honest and develop integrity in their daily lives? I was forced to ask myself this question this morning when I went to talk to my daughter's interim cheerleading coach. We had gotten word that my daughter was going to be benched for today's game because she had a dentist appointment yesterday and had to miss practice. I promptly went in to see the coach (we'd cleared the appointment with the previous coach) and provided documentation for the missed appointment. The woman was extremely nice and said that she had been informed of why my daughter was absent, but that she was just waiting for the note from the dentist before she would allow her to cheer in the game. Logical, right? I thought so.
What got me wondering about honesty and integrity was the fact that the documentation is needed in the first place. I have been coaching high school sports for more than a decade and one thing I have found to be alarmingly true is that if the parents put their child's participation above all else, the child isn't the only one who is going to lie to get their way. Over the years, I have seen forged doctor's notes, forged school passes, and had parents straight out lie to me in order to convince me that their child shouldn't be benched. I should say here that fortunately I haven't seen much of this personally. Generally I coach terrific kids from great families. It's those few that don't have great examples to follow that I worry about.
The simplest lies, the seemingly harmless stretched truths can be devastating when seen through our children's eyes. If I have someone say I'm not home so that I can avoid a phone call, what am I teaching my children? If I write a note that my daughter is sick so that she won't have to participate in the activity she hates most in PE, I have taught her that lying is okay to get what you want. Kids face this kind of deceitfulness far too often, from the media, from their friends, and sometimes from the adults in their lives. These kids are going to be our future leaders. It's about time we all step up and take responsibility for our actions. We need to be willing to honestly say, "That was my fault," or "I was wrong." After all, if we want our kids to follow our example, we'd better start setting one.