Oh the teenage years. There is nothing harder than trying to make sure you are raising a good teen and feeling like you are constantly being lied to. All teens lie. Teens typically lie to their parents about drug and alcohol use, where they are going, who and whether they are dating, who they are with, money, and their friends. Lying becomes a serious issue when the lies are consistent and more than a little white lie to avoid hurting someone.
Here are some suggestions from Dr. Parisi, a low cost psychiatrist in Chicago.
- Build a sincere connection with your teen. Being able to have a real conversation with your teen can be hard, but open communication is one of the best ways to keep your teen talking to you. Remember what teenagers do and think about. You are going to have to be able to handle some uncomfortable topics in order to be a reliable source for your teen. Be prepared to talk about anything…and you may not like what they are going to say, but you have to react rationally or your teen will not continue to talk to you.
- Model the truth. If you aren’t willing to be honest with your teen, they are likely to return the favor. This starts when they are young and can be little things you don’t likely think about. How often are you telling them everything is fine, when you really are stressed or worried about something at work. Children develop a baseline of acceptable lies or half-truths by watching how your react to situations in your life.
- Do not be an angry interrogator. Having moments you teen angers you is an avoidable part of parenting. But don’t use these moments to drill them with questions. You aren’t going to get any real answers. Make sure you are calm and really ready to talk with them if you want them to be honest with you. Remember to be prepared for answers you don’t likely want if you get them telling you the truth. Your reaction is important.
- Deal with lying as a separate issue. No matter what your child was lying to cover up, there are two separate issues. What he or she did and the lying about it. Make sure the lie is addressed as a problem of its own.
- Make your kids think. Putting responsibility on them is hard. As parents, we want to make everything easy in life for them. Sometimes when teens have to accept responsibility it is the best way for them to learn the true lesson.
Raising kids is hard work. You have to set the boundaries and let your teen test them. This is how children learn to fail. Sometimes it is best they learn the hard way so they can succeed later.