I've got a dilemma, and I'm hoping to get some perspective on it.

My son is turning 7 at the end of this month, and is generally a well behaved young man. Lately we've been having an issue with a behavior we are trying to curb. Specifically, he's been dishonest with us in an effort to avoid getting in trouble.

The message I've sent him is that 1) if I ask a question, I probably know the answer, and 2) if he's honest, the punishment is either very light or none at all. We've had the opportunity to demonstrate this with him, and have told him specifically that he was not in trouble because he was honest.

So last time there was an issue, I told him again that dishonesty would not be tolerated, and he wouldn't be in trouble if he was honest with us. I also let him know that lying to us again would result in having his birthday party canceled.

Last night, he got caught doing something he wasn't supposed to do, and lied about it. I asked him twice, hoping he would be honest the second time, and he wasn't. So we cleared up the issue and sent him to bed. Tonight I'll have to talk to him about the party.

So here's the dilemma. I feel like I have to cancel his party for credibility, though I really don't want to. Is there any other good option here? I remember (vaguely) being that age, and kids do things they can't explain, so I can sympathize. On the other hand, I want to send the message about the importance of being honest with us.

Any thoughts?

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I have not had to face this and don't think I know the answer.

For next time, I'll say... be *sure* your threats or promises are things you are willing to carry out.

For this time, I think having an honest son (and father) is more important than him having a birthday party. So that he can know you are honest *and* know that you are sincere about rejecting his lying, and yet not have a totally miserable day, you can, on that day, do something a little special, but without the party. Without telling him in advance, "OK, you won't have a party, but don't worry because you get X instead."
Too late, big guy. You said you were gonna, and now ya gotta.
If you want him to say what he means and mean what he says, you have to go first.
I'd simply explain, in a calm and clear manner, that he knew what the rules are, he knew what the consequences for breaking those rules are, he made his own decision and now he has to live with those consequences. That he himself was entirely in charge of how the scenario was going to play out and, unfortunately, he chose to compound the repercussions by attempting to mislead others.
I agree. If you say it's a punishment, you have to follow through. Not following through means "I can do whatever I want and he won't punish me." Better to punish big now than to punish big and more often later
I agree with this also. Once you have listed out the punishment, you have to carry through. I would recommend that in the future you think about who exactly is receiving the punishment though. Cancelling a birthday party doesn't just punish your son, it also punishes those that had planned on being there.
I'm a softy bud. Don't cancle the poor boys party. I find that taking something they really enjoy, such as a toy, for a little while seems to work the best for me. You probably shouldn't have told him that. Mike Denny makes a good point.
Honestly, it really sucks to use that as a punishment. Still, he has already said it. If he doesn't follow through with it, He could set a precedent that would not benefit the kid's development.
Am I the only one that does not think it is all that harsh of a punishment?
I see that sort of thing as being in balance. As an example, I have desperately wanted a sailboat for years now. A big one, 40 plus, that I can take out and spend all weekend on, sailing and scuba diving here off the beautiful coast of North Carolina and diving the graveyard of the Atlantic. But, I've not done what it takes to afford it. So, no sailboat. It's not unfair, or a violation or anything similar. It's just life. I aint earned it, so I aint got it. In fact, it is very fair.
No, sir. It would pain me to follow through, as I'd enjoy giving my kid a birthday party. Still, it does put things into balance, as you said.
You, sir, are a genius!

I never would have thought of that one. Perhaps that sort of insight that comes from being a parent.
Well...it doesn't look good, but you can still throw it into the boy's hands like Topher suggested. Tell him about canceling the party, tell him you don't want to but you will. Then tell him he can still have it under two conditions, one: by not lying, and two: doing some sort of chores or community service with you. Still the situation is pretty grim for the boy and you might have to cancel the party, but if he sees this as unjust or unfair he should hopefully develop very strong emotions regarding both and therefore learn a lesson. If you do close the party you might want to do what Will suggested and don't treat the day as if it doesn't matter at all.
Thanks for all the comments.

I agree with the sentiments of "too late, you already said it," and was fully prepared to follow through. I actually canceled the party last night.

So we've moved on from that and are working on some positive rewards now. ("Do this, and we'll do something fun.")

BTW, the party that was canceled was with his friends. I don't feel too bad about it because his brother turns 3 the same week, as well as birthdays for a cousin, grandfather (her side) and grandmother (my side) within a week. We'll have a family get together for everyone. Not what he was excited for, but keeps it from being a year devoid of celebration.
Something else you might try is instead of getting the results you want on the spot, working on the capacity to dish out the results. In interrogating him like that I believe there is a chance of strain on the relationship between the two, as it becomes one of battle. What i mean by working on the capacity to dish out the results is to work on his desire to tell you the truth, instead of luring him with rewards or reprimands. Work on your relationship with him to the point where he feels he can go to you with his troubles without you overreacting and you won't have to bribe him.
This might be a good way to do that: Agree to do something that bonds the two of you and have a heart to heart talk with him about a topic of his choice, and he will start to open up. Take him fishing, play a sport, whatever you feel will give you two the most alone time. Just some food for thought. Some relationships require that you understand the other person completely and sincerely before they begin to understand you.


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