Day 203: Why do Teens Lie to Their Parents?
When I was a teenager I'd stay out late and lie about it. I would sneak out of the house in the middle of the night to hang out with friends that I wasn't allowed to because 'they were a bad influence'. I drank and did drugs. And I lied bout it all obviously because if I didn't, I would have been punished. And I wanted to try/do all these things because there were many examples in my life that was saying these things were apparently what you want to do as a teenager. My mom would say those things are bad, you're not allowed to do them, but I wouldn't listen because I didn't trust her, because she would get emotional and judgmental and that obviously doesn't look like a sound supportive being who I could trust for practical advice. She just didn't have the effective understanding and vocabulary to effectively express things to me, like an equal talking to another equal who is new to the world and giving practical support of how this world operates and how consequence works in reality. She wasn't trained to be a parent because we don't have effective training in parenting for everyone.
There is the tendency to want to 'hide' what is wrong with ourselves/the world from children when they're very little, or to not talk about such 'negative' things, in order to allow children to have as a 'good' a time as possible, and then what happens is they don't have any practical idea of the dangers out there or the consequences we can create for ourselves.
What we also tend to do is to 'create consequences' for children, which are then like 'fake' consequences, things like taking away the things they like to do like use their phone or the internet or the tv, but these so-called consequences are consequences that we did unto them, they are not the Actual consequences that would result from their behavior. So when we do this they are not learning about what their actual consequences of their actions are, they are only learning that if/when they are 'caught', by you, doing certain things, that then You will do something to them, or take something from them. So then what happens is you get in the way of them learning about actual consequence, because they are only now learning what you might do to them.
So the child actually has, from that perspective, very common sensical reason to lie to you – to avoid your punishment. So to tell the child not to lie to you, or it's not right to lie, is like, rather pointless because they found a benefit to lying, which was to get themselves out of punishment and get to do what they think they want to do, sometimes. So to say there is consequence to lying to you isn't going to make much sense, because to the child it will seem there is more consequence in not lying to you. Also, in the way the world is, one may find it necessary to lie in some circumstances. Because we as human beings are not yet trustworthy enough with each other to be able to just be honest all with everything. So, you don't want to form a morality toward lying as being right/wrong / good/bad. It is preferable to not lie of course.
So things like taking tv away or 'being grounded' for example, are actually 'punishments'. They are not the natural actual consequences that would result from what they are doing. Like for example, if you stay up late a lot it can affect the development of your body and lead to issues down the road, as the body depletes itself from not getting the rest it needs to rebuild itself from the day's living. Not – if you stay up late you will be grounded. That doesn't make sense. That doesn't give any practical understanding of the consequence they would create for themselves by not sleeping properly, that is the consequence You will create because You want them to sleep and not stay out late, so then it is about what You Want and not about what is Best for Themself.
As parents we have a tendency to attempt to control, because we don't believe anything else will work. We don't believe that a child would respond to common sense, because we haven't aligned ourself with common sense yet. So we think we have to 'put a foot down' and take control. So you're essentially demanding that they comply, and that is very unlikely to have a positive result. What it's going to look like to the child is that You want something of/from them, You wanting to control them/their behavior to the result You want. They are not going to see it as trying to prevent them from experiencing consequences in reality, as what is best for Them. Because that is in fact essentially what it is, it is wanting/demanding/expecting certain behavior from the child. That is in essence wanting to control another being, and most beings are not going to respond well to being controlled. I certainly didn't, if you have had experiences in your life where another was trying to control you, you can check what effect that had/how did you respond to that.
So we've got a ways to go in correcting ourselves, and the children are going to suffer through that, as did we also as children, but we'll walk ourselves out of this step by step until it's done, and we can challenge ourselves to make it as fun as we can, by not making things personal/judging. We have now the tools and just have to walk it, educate ourselves to become practical beings grounded here in reality.
An important point within this, is to look at everything from the perspective of what am I living, instead of what I'm expecting another to live for/toward me. And checking all points that come up, like if I am mad at them for lying – how/when/where do I or have I lied? Or if they aren't respecting me - how/where have I not been respectful? Where respect would mean treating another as my equal. There is the tendency to place all these expectations on another, without focusing on ourselves and our own living and behaviors.
And we need to educate ourselves on the actual consequences so we can effectively explain them - not the consequences we would create for them ourself. Give the child the common sense, so they can reason for themselves what is the best course of action. And if they make a mistake – do not judge them. And realize, they have not hurt you, they only hurt themselves. When we make it about me and what They're doing to Me, then it is about control and manipulation and enslavement instead of allowing a being their individual life and learning process. It is like the 'you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink'. We can show the children where the water is, but we can't make them drink it. And the more we would try to force them to the more they would resist, because then it looks like we have some personal agenda or investment in it, and it is going to seem fishy. You've got to give the child their space to choose. Trust in a relationship is indeed something that is built, but you have to give trust at first for it to even be possible for trust to emerge. You have to trust the being, not to act how you want them to, but trust the being to hear common sense, and to understand the choices they face is always to do what is best for them or what is not. Maybe they will, and maybe they won't. But it must be up to the individual if we're to live as truly equals.