Parent Question: Any ideas for dealing with lying? Lying about assignments, homework, jobs done. I despise lying. And despite my dealings with druggies every working day and being an amazing lie detector, she is managing to slip some past me – just because I can’t understand why should would lie to me in the first place – what is there to gain??? Certainly not my respect.
When I overhear teenagers’ conversations, I can’t help but conclude that ALL teenagers lie occasionally and many lie often! They may lie about how much alcohol they drank, what they did on the weekend and even what they like and dislike. It becomes an art form they learn from each other and use to survive the pecking order at school.
I can remember my mother emphasizing her detest for lying by saying, “There is nothing I hate more than lying.” I actually remember thinking that this was as pretty strange thing to say, given how important it was for me to remain popular at school. Why would she care about a lie when my social life was falling apart?
Parents value integrity. Teenager have a completely different agenda.
Many parents deal aggressively with lying but fail to consider what is motivating them to lie in the fist place. This two part approach will ensure you don’t focus on the lie at the expense of the real issue.
1. Determine why your teenager is lying. I have seen teenagers lie because they are
* ashamed of the truth;
* scared of the consequences;
* keen for a reaction;
* in the mood to take a risk;
* desiring to be independent of their parents;
* trying to fit in;
* determined to get their own way;
* testing the waters;
* finding lying much more exciting than telling the truth.
2. Be creative and provide positive opportunities for risk taking and personal development. Lecturing won’t fix the why, new experiences may do. Your teenager may need a broader friendship circle, a new interest, more responsibility or strategies to deal with anxiety.
2. Teach them to communicate their needs, fears, insecurities and emotions honestly. Many times lying is a teenager’s way of dealing with their feelings and inadequacy.
3. Praise honest communication. Encourage them to express their true thoughts and feelings, even if you don’t like what you hear.
1. Honesty is the best policy. Remember that all teenagers lie once in a while. Expect it but don’t ignore it. Ignoring lies, even the small, white lies, can give them license to grow.
2. Confront young people with facts rather than emotion. Don’t create more of a problem by taking thing personally. Keep things in perspective.
3. Take the time to deal with lying properly. Make the phone calls, ask the questions, do the hard yards until you get to the bottom of things.
4. Keep them safe from themselves. It is your job to protect them rather than trust them. Don’t feel obliged to give them freedom so they can earn your trust back. There are times when trusting a teenager is a bad idea.
THANK YOU to everyone who has been passing these blog posts on, and for all your kind emails about their impact on your family. If you have a topic you would like me to blog about email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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MOST IMPORTANTLY if your teenager needs support from a psychologist, counselor or mentor Youth Excel would love to help. You can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
What Teenage Girls Don’t Tell their Parents is available at www.michellemitchell.org for $24.95 plus postage.
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