Lying, Part Two

*This is a continuation from "Fear, Part One." Please read the original entry for additional information*

Since your daughter is also lying about where she has been going with friends to avoid confrontation with you, confront her directly.  Determine why she has been lying by listening to her explain what her thinking was before telling the lie and weighing her reasons.  Be willing to make changes if you have been placing inappropriate restrictions on people or places.  Also, be willing to give appropriate consequences both for lying and for breaking reasonable restrictions.

Lying that harms someone else needs to be dealt with directly and quickly to minimize the damage.  Some examples of this are telling the teacher a girl stole something when you were the thief; saying someone was involved in inappropriate behavior when they were not; blaming a sibling for some action you did; or threatening to report a parent to child services for taking appropriate disciplinary action.  The consequence for this type of lying should include a public apology to the person who was harmed as well as appropriate restrictions.  You can never allow a child to blackmail you and do not hesitate to call their bluff re calling child services.  Child services if called will investigate and if you are telling the truth you have nothing to fear from their investigation. 

When a lie is used to obtain something - a toy, a trip, a concert, a later curfew, more time on the internet, more time with a friend - then the thing falsely obtained should be withdrawn. 

When the lie leads to or hides dangerous behavior, smoking, drinking, drug use, hanging with a rough group you must uncover and stop such behavior.  This can be difficult because many parents don’t see or refuse to believe their child could be doing something dangerous.  Remember, the most common reason for sudden changes in personality or behavior is beginning to use drugs or alcohol.

Lying about smoking is easy to uncover.  Just use your nose.  Other than the cloying odors of tobacco or marijuana smoke, also watch for overly perfumed or minted odors which could cover the smell of smoke.  The odor of alcohol is also quite distinct if you get in the face of a child suspected of drinking.  One dramatic consequence for smoking tobacco is to find a lung cancer patient willing to tell your child his story.  There are many educational programs available that suggest ways to quit smoking.

If your child is smoking marijuana or using other drugs, the consequences must help them to overcome their addiction.  I advise parents of drug users that the consequences include total loss of privacy.   Addicts lie regularly.  Parents of substance abusers need to search their child’s room and belongings and administer urine tests frequently and unexpectedly.

While addiction is never easy to beat, it gets harder as the habit goes on.

Lying about drug use is one reason a psychiatrist should be consulted.  Frequently drug and alcohol use can be an attempt to self-medicate an underlying condition like anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder.  The other instance of lying that needs psychiatric treatment is consistent lying for no apparent reason from a young person who can’t seem to discern the difference between lies and the truth.

"Truth is the only safe ground to stand on."- Elizabeth Cady Stanton.