We are trying to teach our son that it is okay to "fail boldly." I would rather have him bomb a test than cheat. I would rather have him admit that he did something wrong than lie about it or be sneaky.
But those can be hard lessons to enforce because, frankly, I'd rather he be perfect. I'd rather he never fail at all and always make the right choice. But that's not going to happen.
These discussions at home also force me to look at MY behavior. I recently heard adults in two different situations talk about being late for something and having it brought to the attention of others (in innocent ways, like wondering if the person was okay). Neither case was one where someone was trying to "catch" them doing something wrong or where a job was on the line. Both said something about wishing people hadn't said anything. My first thought, after all this conversation at home was, "Fail boldly." If you're late, you're late. "Sorry, I got distracted. I'll try to be more careful next time." But those words are easier to say than to live out. I hate screwing up in front of other people. I will rehearse that screw up over and over in my head, feeling the humiliation each time. I'd be much happier if I could keep people believing that I always do everything right.
But I don't. I have to work at saying, "That was my fault. I made a mistake. Thanks for being gracious with me."
I still think it is an important thing to teach my son. I want him to grow up to be a man of integrity - who can admit his mistakes when he makes them and then learn from them rather than try to hide them. But I have to remember that sometimes it's hard to be that bold.