It would seem as if lying is always intentional, but it can be accidental. As an example, a child is told he must clean his room before playing outside. His parents then allow him to play even though the room hasn’t been cleaned. This is an accidental lie. The parents’ original idea may have been to teach responsibility and that there are consequences for chosen behaviors. Instead, something quite different nay have been learned from this lack of parental follow through.
We often teach our children far more by what we do than by what we say. What may have been communicated in the above example is that telling the truth is unimportant. Another unintended lesson might have been that it’s not necessary to listen to the person in authority. Let's also include as a possibility the popular concept that I can do what I feel like doing and ignore my responsibilities. As parents, we don’t plan to teach our children such things; it’s accidental.
If something is accidental, it’s not on purpose. Shouldn’t what we do in parenting be on purpose? Absolutely! Raising our children is too important a job to be done thoughtlessly or haphazardly. We need to think before we speak and follow through on what we say. Being a liar, even an accidental liar, is not a trait we want to teach our children. Anything worthwhile, especially raising our children, requires planning and attention to detail. As Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”