How My Child’s Lies Are Making Me Question Everything

Woman looking into mirror

Last week we caught one of our kids in a massive lie. And I’m not talking a lie of the little white variety, I’m talking a big one, an enormous one, perhaps the mother of all lies. And I’ve got to be honest, the lies make me sick.

Sick because I’m disappointed. Sick because I’m mad. Sick because I’m crushed. Sick because of the broken trust. Sick because it’s not the first time. Sick because I doubt it’s the last.

But the biggest reason the lies make me sick? Because they make me question everything I’ve ever done as his mom.

Just Don’t Lie

We have told our kids, repeatedly, that we know they will make mistakes. Mistakes are okay, encouraged even. Because mistakes are what help us grow; mistakes are the greatest learning opportunities that life presents. And we’ve also told them that when the inevitable mistake happens, we just want them to tell us the truth.

Admittedly, that’s a hard thing to do. No one likes to admit a mistake, but there is one lesson I’ve learned in life. It’s always better to tell the truth.

Better, but not easier.

It’s not easy to tell the truth sometimes which is why we’ve tried really hard to parent with the expectation of truth in mind. Sure, there may still be consequences for your poor choices, usually of the natural kind, but discipline is reserved for lying.

It’s the lying that’ll get you…

How The Lie Developed

It all started with a question about an incident and when asked “What happened?” He replied, “I don’t know.” But he did know. Even when presented with compelling evidence that we had a pretty good idea what had happened, he lied. Despite being presented with multiple opportunities to tell me the truth, he lied. And he lied convincingly. So, I did what I do and I believed him, I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

And then the truth came tumbling out with the realization that not only did he lie straight to my face, repeatedly, he lied to his grandmother as well.

Crushed. Once again, he let me down. Let me down hard.

Oh, I get why he lied, he was afraid of the consequences. And perhaps he should have been. But the reality is that he’s in far more trouble now than he would have been if he would have just come clean from the start.  Why can’t he see that lying only makes it worse? Much worse? I’m always waaaaaay more upset about the lying than anything that has ever happened.

But yet, he still lied.

I get it –  kids lie, teenagers lie, adults lie. But it doesn’t make it okay, does it?

Not in my book. I have high expectations for my kids – and I have total faith that they will rise to the occasion. And each one of them has. And really, is it setting the bar too high by asking for them to tell the truth? I don’t think so.

The Crushing Ramifications

It’s not just the fact that he didn’t live up to my expectations that makes me sick. I’m sick because I’m hurt. It hurts that after all of the conversations, all of the chats, all of the heart to hearts, all of those times we’ve talked about the truth being the best option, he still chose to lie.

And I’m mad. Mad and sad and feeling bad. All because this whopper of a lie pushed me to the brink and it’s making me question everything:  my parenting, my judgment, my discipline, my child’s character, my relationship with my child, every little decision I’ve made over the years, all of my choices up until now.

And while I know our kids are not a direct reflection of us, of our parenting, this one feels like it is. And I’m crushed.

I’m crushed because this child of mine is such a good kid but this compulsion to lie – it’s a problem. A serious one. The worst part, his inability to tell the truth screams of his distrust of me, so now the feeling is mutual. And I’m back to square one with him as we start the long arduous road to the recovery of trust.

How do we get there? I don’t know, but I do know one thing. It has to start with the truth.

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