Dear Son,

There will be times when you’re going to disobey me, and you know what? I’m not too concerned about it. We’ll figure those situations out.

But there is one thing that I hope and pray that you never ever do and that is to lie to me.

I don’t say this as some forceful father demanding that his kid obeys him. Rather, I’m speaking to you from my heart. I know the destruction that lying brings and that’s not the kind of life I want for you. Please, son, listen to my story. Heed my advice.

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I once had a good friend that was a chronic liar.

He lied to me for almost a year about what university he went to, saying we went to the same one. I would see him in the afternoon after my classes and he would say things like, “Hey, did you hear about the guy who got hit by a car on campus today?”

It was a total and complete lie.

I’m not saying this to throw my friend under the bus; in fact, we had a lot of great times together. But his struggle with lying absolutely devastated his life. I still remember the night he finally opened up to me, in tears, about his struggle. I’ll never forget what he said, “I wish I struggled with anything else – porn, alcohol – anything other than lying.”

It breaks my heart thinking back to that moment. I know why he said that, because lying breaks relationships.

The night that he opened up to me was the same night his fiancé called off their engagement. Even though she loved him deeply, she just couldn’t trust what he said. When he would tell her he loved her, she couldn’t fully believe him.

If the absolute best moments in life are spent in deep and meaningful relationships with those we love, lying is the dark poison that destroys those relationships, robbing us of the best moments in life.

When lying masquerades as kindness

But don’t be fooled, son, lying comes in many forms. Yes, you will be tempted to lie to cover up something bad that you’ve done. However, you will also be tempted to lie in order to please others. Examples:

“No, that doesn’t bother me at all.”

“Yes, I’d love to stay late to help with this.”

When you lie about how you truly feel in order to please someone, you end up burning yourself out. And until you learn to be honest, you will suffer for it.

Honesty without kindness is not good

You will meet people that are honest, but they may also lack honesty’s other key component: kindness.

“That shirt looks awful on you.”

“You really didn’t know that? Wow.”

Your mom’s honesty was one of the first things that attracted me to her. But it was more than that, it was her kindness that came along with her honesty.

If my breath smells bad, she doesn’t say in a harsh tone, “Your breath smells awful!” She simply asks if I’d like a breath mint.

Honest people make the best friends and soulmates

I love being around honest people. I always know where I stand with them. There isn’t that strange tension when you’re wondering if you’ve done something wrong.

Honest friends help you to be a better person. They’ll tell you when you’re off form or when you’re venturing into bad territory. When an honest person gives you a compliment, it is incredibly meaningful because you know it is real (think Simon Cowell or Paul Hollywood).

Being honest makes you healthier, according to science

A small study presented at the American Psychological Association’s 120th Annual Convention found that telling the truth when being tempted to lie can “significantly improve a person’s mental and physical health.”

Remember to be honest with yourself

Be honest when assessing your own strengths and weaknesses. Don’t allow yourself to believe untrue thoughts about yourself – like that you are a failure or that you are unlovable.

Son, I’ve lived long enough to know that it is the deep, meaningful relationships that truly bring us happiness. If you want to have those kinds of relationships that are the essence of life, relentlessly pursue honesty (and don’t forget kindness). Your life will be richer for it.