Who finished the toilet paper and didn't replace the roll?
Or ate my chocolate covered pretzels without asking?
Or forgot to bring her homework home and said she didn't have any?
These are just a few of the everyday kind of lapses we struggle with in our house.
Everybody makes mistakes. It's the human condition. But the true test of our character is what we do with our mistakes.
Going all the way back to the Garden of Eden, even the very first people struggled to own up to their failings. When God blames Adam for eating the forbidden fruit, he points the finger at Eve. Eve then blames the snake. Nobody wants to accept responsibility for messing up.
As a parent, one of my top 10 rules (not that they're written – or carved -- anywhere) is personal accountability -- owning up to a mistake. My husband and I have told our daughters again and again that if they would only be honest about their mistakes – even the really bad ones – the consequences will be less harsh. What we absolutely cannot stand is a lack of accountability. "It's not my fault, " or "I didn't know" or "Why does it matter?"
Even worse is when there's a cover-up involved. This often consists of an elaborate strategy to keep us from ever discovering the truth. (I shudder to think of what I still don't know.)
As it turns out, kids aren't the only ones who have mastered the cover-up scheme. First we learned of General Motor's multi-year cover up of the ignition switch defect, leading to the senseless deaths of over a dozen people. Now Americans are reeling from the latest cover up scheme in some of the nation's VA Hospitals, particularly Phoenix, where "secret waiting lists" were hidden to mask the system's inefficiency, once again leading to senseless deaths of our country's veterans.
Owning our mistakes is hard, especially when we've let people we care about down, or worse, harmed someone. But admitting fault and making restitution is a true test of our character.
Maybe the real reason Adam and Eve got kicked out of the Garden of Eden was not because they ate the forbidden fruit, but because they weren't accountable.
Anne Frank said: "Parents can only give [children] good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands."
It has to start with us.