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As I have shared before, I am working through a Beth Moore study on the patriarchs of Genesis. The stuff I read yesterday has got me thinking (which really is the point of a Bible study, right?). Beth talks about the “stronghold of deception” and how it is passed down from parent to child. She says:

Deception, passed down through example from parent to child, can be a frightfully contagious approach to life. If honesty is not held in high esteem and practiced in the home, children learn the destructive art of deception. Unless something dramatic breaks the cycle, it carries into adulthood and can invade any realm of life. ~ The Patriarchs pp. 114-115

I am not sure how I feel about that chastisement. On the one hand, in a perfect and safe world, being honest all the time sounds idyllic. However, my childhood was anything but idyllic, so deception is all I learned. I learned how to look someone in the eye and lie convincingly because, if anyone learned my secret, then my sister would die. Yes, in adulthood I realize that my abusers were just protecting themselves, but as a child, I believed this. When I looked the police officer in the eye and said that nobody was hurting us, I did it to save my sister’s life. I could not distinguish between the power to kill a dog and the power to kill a child.

So, as a parent, I don’t come down hard on my son for lying. (Also, he is very bad at it!) Because of my son’s special needs (attention-deficit hyperactivity – ADHD) and immaturity, I don’t know what is a normal part of childhood in “telling stories” and what is me passing along my “stronghold of deception.” I know my son did not leap over a 10 story building, so why would I punish him for telling me a story about doing it?

What are your thoughts on the “stronghold of deception.” I am not convinced that always being truthful is a good thing. How can my kid protect himself if he cannot deceive the bad guys and escape? Am I pouring too much of my own s@#$ onto my kid?? I don’t know.

Photo credit: Amazon.com

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Girl behind bars (c) Lynda Bernhardt One aftereffect from my abusive childhood that I am not proud of is my ability to lie. I consider myself to be a person of integrity, and I am honest with people about most things in my life. However, when it comes to close relationships (particularly family), lying to avoid conflict comes as naturally as breathing.

Lying is a common aftereffect of child abuse. The abused child wants to placate the abuser so the abuser will not harm her, so she tells the abuser whatever he or she wants to hear. When the abused child becomes an adult, that tendency is still there. The potential of being in conflict with a family member triggers all of the person’s fears from childhood of experiencing abuse for not agreeing with and placating the abuser. It can take a long time for an adult survivor of child abuse to accept that she is no longer in danger for disagreeing with a family member.

I watch television shows like Everybody Loves Raymond or Friends and sit in awe of the ability of the characters to bicker and then still be okay. This is not a lesson that I have learned yet as part of my healing. If I am in conflict with someone I care about, it feels like my world is spinning out of control. My therapist used to tell me that I needed to learn that it is okay to disagree in a relationship and that an argument will not end it. Two people who love each other will come back together and not break apart over one disagreement. While I get that in my head, I have a long way to go before I will get this at a heart level.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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