It’s almost one hundred percent certain your child, tween, teenager, or young adult has lied or will lie to you about something at some point during these years. Because lying happens.
During the teen years we all found ourselves at some point creating an entire life of our own, separate and distinct from our parents. We formed personal opinions on social issues, political issues, what kind of music we liked, what kind of people we liked, what kind of person we wanted to be, and the kind of people we wanted to hang out with.
You may not have lied to your parents at all while you were a teenager, but you should know that if you never lied to your parents, you were in the minority.
Things teens might lie about
Adolescent lying, however, is not a positive milestone. It may be an indicator that they’re meeting other positive developmental milestones, such as emotional and psychological differentiation from parents, independence, loyalty to friends, and moral/ethical reasoning, but the lying itself is not a positive characteristic. It’s something parents need to address, resolve, and move past in order to help their teens grow into responsible, accountable adults.
Most often teen lying is harmless, but there are times when it’s not harmless. If a teen is lying to cover up behavior that’s dangerous or illegal, that’s an entirely different story. It’s time to take it seriously. It’s still not time to freak out. We never recommend that. But it is time to let your teen know you absolutely will not let it slide.
An atmosphere of trust and communication is still crucial. But lying to cover up drinking, using drugs, or illegal activity may be an indicator of an underlying problem. If you think your teen is lying for those reasons — or if your teen repeatedly makes up untruths or wildly embellishes facts with no apparent guilt, remorse, or indication they know it’s wrong — then it’s time to consider enlisting professional help in the form of a fully licensed and credentialed psychiatrist or therapist.
Responding to lies
Recognizing the type of lie your person is telling and understanding the reason why they’re lying can be a really powerful window into your person’s mind and their needs.
Understanding their motivation will give you the best direction in which to move as you deal with the lies.
Keep in mind that a pattern of many broken promises, failed relationships, or repeated lies that were intended to harm another requires additional support and professional guidance. If the lying is less severe, below are some effective ways to begin to create an environment where the person can feel safe enough to be honest. After all, most people don’t get up in the morning planning to hurt others or to lie. Most of us don’t want to damage our relationships. Remember that you, too, have altered the truth at one time or another.