Children and Lying: When Parents Don’t Know What Their Child’s Behavior Was

Children and Lying:  When Parents Don’t Know What Their Child’s Behavior Was

In last week’s blog, we looked situations when the parent knew that the child was lying. As kids grow up, parents are more likely to encounter situations when a parent does not know if their kid is lying. What if you suspect misbehavior, but don't know for sure? Then what do you do? Here is an example of how a mom handled such a situation with her teenage son.

Janice's intuition tells her that her son, Brad, has been drinking at some recent parties. However, she just doesn't have the evidence to prove it. Lack of evidence shouldn't keep her from talking with him about it.

Mom: "Brad, I've been getting this funny feeling that you are drinking at those parties. I just don't like to worry about things like that, especially since you are driving."

Brad: "Aw, Mom, you don't have to worry about that. You know I don't drink."

Mom: "That could be, Brad, but you've lied to me about some other things lately, so I am worrying about it."

Brad: "Yeah, but I'm not lying this time."

Mom: "Brad, we are not talking about lying. We are talking about my worrying. And your job is to make sure I don't worry. I love you, and as a mom I have a duty to worry about drinking and driving. It's all about keeping you and others alive."

Brad: "So?"

Mom: "So, Brad, I know that if you are not driving, I won't worry as much. Figure out a good way to keep me from worrying and you'll get the keys to the car back."

Brad: "But why do you think I'm lying?"

Mom: "Brad, we're talking about worrying, not lying. I'll be anxious to hear your plan to set my mind at ease. Thanks for understanding."

By setting limits that she could enforce, Janice was able to address the possibility that Brad was lying about his behavior. Could you use a similar approach with other situations, such as brushing teeth, computer use, cell phone use, etc.?

For more tips on how you can use limits to help you maintain control, listen to our new audio, The Gift of Limits: Why Kids Who Have Them Feel Safer and More Loved.


Jim Fay

The Gift of Limits

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