A rubber duck accompanied my walk around the room. I laid it in plain sight on a shelf of the bookcase. Its classic yellow face and orange bill pointed to the door where my daughter would skip through in a few seconds.
“Heidi,” I called, “Come find the ducky.”
Heidi scampered inside. Her eyes sparkled. They went immediately to the bookcase, the exact same spot where she had last placed the duck. A flicker of confusion puckered her brows. The bright yellow toy didn’t sit on the second shelf, left side. She turned to look at me. My eyes went two shelves above, dead center, where the little fellow waited. She followed my hint and found him.
“There it is!” she squealed.
Her arms stretched high. Her little fingers danced. I reached up, plucked it off the shelf, and put it into her waiting hands.
Hidden things are usually delightful surprises when children are small, but it doesn’t take long before our wonderful innocents discover the deceit of covering up something they should not.
Our middle daughter hid a trove of unwanted smashed green peas under her dinner plate. Our youngest daughter hid a pile of notes from a boy in her drawer. Our oldest hid a piece of candy she stole.
How do children learn this? Who teaches them to play hide and seek with things they shouldn’t? What prompts the guilty cover-up?
It’s in our DNA.
“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden
in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves
from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’
So he said, ‘I heard Your voice in the garden,
and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.’”
· Gen. 3:8-10 ·
The guilt of Adam and Eve’s disobedience produced immediate shame. They disobeyed. They sinned. Fear drove them into hiding. We are the same today. All of us struggle with admitting when we’ve done something wrong.
The lesson of Adam and Eve is a simple but powerful deterrent to misconduct for adults and children. Our tendency to hide what we shouldn’t can be curtailed with two simple guidelines:
If I feel I need to hide something, it is probably not something good.
If I feel I must hide an action, it likely is not something I should do.
Discipline is a difficult balance. How can we nurture forthright behavior? The best instruction grows from a foundation of truth.
As parents, we must:
> Teach our children an All-Knowing Father. He knows everything. He sees all. There is nothing hidden from Him.
“O Lord, You have searched me and known me.” · Psalm 139:1 ·
> Teach our children a Loving Father. His love is unconditional. We are happier when we obey Him. He is pleased by our obedience.
“…perfect love casts out fear….” · 1 John 4:18 ·
> Teach our children a Forgiving Father. He forgives if we confess what we have done wrong, repent and turn away from sin.
“He is faithful and righteous to forgive…” · 1 John 1:9 ·
When we teach our children to hide God’s Word in their hearts, trust deepens. Faith matures.
Honest transparency follows.
(Adapted from a post previously published on Just18Summers.com)
Cover photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash