A couple days ago after back-to-school shopping, I'd realized I bought some things that I didn't need. Since in this economy we are all trying to spend just what we need to, I decided to return some of the extra items.

That day, my youngest daughter wanted to spend some time with me so we decided to run the errands together. I got to one of the stores where I needed to return something. The employee in the front desk finished processing my return when I realized she'd made a mistake. She actually refunded me more than I'd pay for the item. When I bought it, the item had a one dollar promotion discount, but when she processed the return she didn't realized that, so she actually gave me a dollar extra.


I told her she gave me more money than she was supposed to, that she needed to fix that. Surprised by my action, the employee said she didn't notice but that she was really thankful for my honesty and in exchange for it I could keep the dollar. I asked her repeatedly if she was sure that was OK, I didn't want her to get in trouble or have to pay that dollar herself. She said it was absolutely fine.

Meanwhile, my daughter smiled and looked at me with a sense of pride in her eyes. She said "Mom, she let you keep the dollar because you were honest; you actually get good things when you say the truth."

I could see how proud she was of her mother and how this simple action had a tremendous effect on her. She always knew truth and honesty can take you farther - I'm always lecturing all my children about it - but now she saw it from her own mother, from her role model. She saw the cause-and-effect situation firsthand. I told her I didn't do it expecting to get something back, I did it because it was the right thing to do, I would've not felt good knowing that I kept something that didn't belong to me and that I took advantage of someones mistake.

I thanked the employee and we left, then we decided to go somewhere else where I needed to get something. When I was ready to pay, the bill was more than the cash I'm use to carry with me - you know, ever since ATMs and credit cards I never carry that much cash anymore. At the same time, the bill wasn't enough either to pay with my credit card, all I needed was one dollar. Suddenly, my daughter reminded me of that extra dollar that the other lady let me keep because of my honesty. She was right! I remembered then that I had that extra dollar and that was enough to pay for what I needed.

When we left the store, my daughter said "See mom, good things do happen to you when you say the truth," with a somewhat tone of surprise and happiness in her voice. I nodded and told her that she was right, that every time she needed to make a decision in her future between telling or not telling the truth, I wanted her to think about that day and make the right decision.

I told her always to remember that everything in this world is a cause-and-effect process: you make good choices, good things will happen to you; you make bad decisions, bad things will eventually happen to you too. She nodded in agreement.

When we got back home she told her sisters about what happened, and it turned out to be a good lesson for all of them. It was right then, when I realized how much all of our actions as parents define many of the actions of our children. We are their first and most important role model, we are a mirror and our actions will have a reflection on them. Children, and even teenagers, are like endless sponges that absorb everything around them - the good and the bad.

That day, with that simple unplanned action, I understood even more the importance of surrounding our children with good actions and good examples. We have to always keep in mind that we are helping to shape a human being and that even the simplest of actions will have an impact on them. They have enough bad role models out there, let us be the role model they will remember later in life when, as teenagers or adults, they face a moment of making a decision between good or bad - the role model that will help them make the right decision. Let us be the example that will make them think that truth and honesty can really take you farther.