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by Mandy Arioto


August 2, 2014


At our house every topic is open for discussion. My kids ask questions about sex, injustice and are thoroughly interested in discussing cuss words and why we shouldn’t use them. Yesterday in the car my daughter shared with me about the three times she lied at school in kindergarten - two years ago. I think she needed to get it off of her chest. 

My husband Joe and I work hard to make truth-telling easy because honesty is a high priority to us. I don’t want my kids to carry around anything they don’t have to. I would rather hear the truth about what they are feeling or doing than have them believe there are secrets that need to be hidden because they are too dirty or shameful to be shared. I am a firm believer that secrets make us sick. 

Here’s the hard part. Truth-telling is embarrassing. It exposes our guts to the world, to our friends and to our spouses. Early in our relationship I was embarrassed to tell Joe what I needed because I didn’t want to be perceived as needy or demanding. 

I like to celebrate. I love birthdays and making people feel loved is a high value for me. Yet, when Joe and I got married my expectations left me wondering how in the world I ended up marrying a man who could be so deficient in birthday celebrating skills. I went to elaborate measures to celebrate everyone else but when my birthday came around it was barely acknowledged with a card. So I made the very mature and healthy decision of letting holidays slip by without voicing how hurt I was. This technique back fired three years later when I blew up and instigated a huge fight ending in lots of tears. 

Whether we are managing other people’s perceptions of us or hiding things because of shame, our secrets hold us captive. 

For so long I felt I had to manage my external relationships. I would coach Joe on how he talked about his job, worried he would be perceived a certain way. I worried about what people would think or how they would judge the unconventional decisions we make. I was my own PR person, and it was exhausting. 

Hiding from the truth causes us to feel alone and turns the hairline fractures in our lives into deep gaping chasms. Often when this happens we end up filling in the gaps with things that don’t serve us well. There was a point in my life where I filled in my gaps with exercise. Other times it was with sleep or over-commitment. Busy-ness is another way I kept myself from confronting the real issues that needed my attention. 

How can you tell you are filling yourself with the wrong things? It seems to me it’s when we use a lot of energy and in the end you feel emptier and less comfortable than before. 

So in an effort to live unencumbered, every once in a while I will ask myself, “Do I have anything going on in my life that no one knows about?” And if I do, it might be time to get honest with someone.  

I believe in truth telling because honesty is medicinal. It has healing qualities that neutralizes the fears that make us sick. When we speak secrets out loud it breaks their power over us. 

So, let’s create safe spaces where we can be truth-tellers. Places where whole is more valuable than pretty. Where honest is prized more than comfortable. And let’s be families where we don’t have to posture or hide but where we allow one another to spill our guts so that we are free to live whole and loved.


Mandy Arioto  
Mandy has three kids, one dog and married her husband in spite of the fact that he used the cheesiest pickup line ever to ask her out. Mandy loves to travel and wanderlust is her middle name (not really, it is Jan), but her favorite place in all the world is snuggled on the couch between her kiddos. She and her husband recently moved from Southern California to Denver so that their kids could learn how to make snow angels and because they believe in adventures. Stop by her house and there are sure to be dishes in the sink, laundry on the floor and chocolate in the pantry. Share in her adventures at


How have you created a safe space for honesty in your family?

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It is so true that coming clean is so free-ing. Getting lies (and all sins for that matter) off your chest feels so good and keeps you healthier. As a Catholic who goes to Confession, I feel blessed to have that safe place to tell-all and get guidance on making amends. Our Lord knows what we need because He put that need there in the first place--for spiritual health.


Confessing even the smallest secret feels like a weight is lifted, and I definitely feel the benefit of confessing my sins to God. No matter our transgressions, forgiveness is indeed a miraculous thing.


The grace and healing that I have received through the sacrament of Confession are what I was thinking of while reading this as well! It is so good to know our God forgives time and time again...


Amen! His Grace covers all.


There were two points to this post that struck me..... being honest with our kids AND being honest with/about ourselves. God is working in my heart about being my own PR manager. I recently read "The Hiding Place" by Corrie ten Boom, and there are two stories where God honors the ten Booms by their radical honesty. Once, when asked by Gestapo where her brothers are hiding, a sister tells the truth "under the table" and then bursts out laughing. The police think she's mocking them, because they were not visibly there and stomp off. They WERE under the floor under a rug under the table..... One of Corrie's sisters is hiding two Jewish women that look Aryan. When a police officer asks if one of the women is a Jew, everyone is shocked when she admits yes. Both women are hauled off, but the sister gets a message to Corrie that God will not allow harm to come to the Jew. And that night, there is a break-in where the Jews were being held and she was one of the peo


I've known for awhile that I am plagued by the "little white lies" and how sinister they really are. Your post helped me realize the root of the problem. The ten Booms example has inspired me. Also, just yesterday, when talking to my four-year old about the importance of telling the truth after she lied about pushing her brother, I saw my own need for improvement. I want to teach my children to be truthful, and modeling it to them will be the best way to do that. Thanks for some points to help me work on this area....


Thank you for your honesty, Jill. I sometimes fall into the little-white-lie trap as well, but I agree. It drives me BONKERS when my daughter, age 5, lies about things like why her brother is crying. I need to be the best example I can be for her.


I hear you on the birthdays - there should be a class for husbands!!! ;)


My honey's love language is GIFTS, and he knocks it out of the park every time. I wish I had his talent for choosing just the right thing for every single person!


Just today, I found out that my 13 year old had been lying about brushing his teeth! BRUSHING HIS TEETH! Two weeks of lying just because he was lazy and also didn't want to admit that he misplaced his toothbrush. Talk about unhealthy when he finally brushed them today and his mouth was all bloody and disgusting. It was an eye-opener for him. A "small" lie with huge implications on his physical health; but, also, it opened the door for us to talk about how, now, his dad and I are going to have issues with trusting what he says because if he were so willing to lie about something like brushing his teeth what else would he be willing to lie about?


That's a tough one! And I'm glad he has the opportunity to learn that dishonesty leads to complications on something like this before the bigger teen issues hit. Sounds like you and your husband handled this one well.