When I tell people that my teenagers don’t lie to me, they look at me incredulously, and ask which looney bin I escaped from. When I tell my sisters, who are younger than me, and therefore fancy themselves more hip than I, that my teenagers don’t lie to me, they roll their eyes.  And then they insist, rather effusively, that my teenagers are lying to me about not lying to me. Now, I know that I’m slightly naive about many things, and I’m quite proud of that fact.  But I truly do believe that my kids don’t lie to me.

How do I know this?  Because they don’t need to. I’m ready and open to hear the truth, however painfully disconcerting it might be.

Sometimes I feel guilty about our no need to lie environment, as quite possible one of the greatest joys of being a teen is getting away with a well-crafted lie. These are some of the things that I lied to my parents about as a teenager:

Smoking (I smoked from the age of 14)   When I accidentally handed my Stepfather a pack of cigarettes instead of my keys, I said, ‘I’m holding for a friend’. And he believed me.  They still don’t know I smoked. (Unless they’re reading this. Hi Mom.)

Where I was sleeping:  Sometimes I lied about who’s house I was sleeping at just to see if they’d twig onto my deceit. Good times.

Illegal Substances: (that’s all I’m saying. It was the 80s for goodness sake.)

Skipping School: Who didn’t lie about skipping school?

Unfortunately for my kids, because I told all of those teenage lies, it’s pretty hard to pull one over on me. Having been there, done that, I can spot Pinocchio’s nose growing from a mile away. But, that never really happens, because, as I said, my teenagers don’t lie to me (or so they say).

How do I know?

It’s possible that one of them said, ‘Can you drive me to my friend’s house so I can drink?  I don’t want to drink and drive.’

It’s possible that they call me and say, ‘Can I skip class right now. There’s a substitute.’

It’s possible that they call me and ask if their friend that’s a boy but not their boyfriend can sleep over.

I know what a unicorn means in the teen girl world.  I know who has tried drugs, who’s on the pill, who’s parents are splitting up.  I know a lot.  I know secrets.  Sometimes I know more than I want.  Which sometimes makes me re-think my whole strategy.

Really, knowing exactly what’s going on in the teen world might sound fun, but it’s actually a bit distressing sometimes.  But, knowledge is power, and truly a necessity.   This climate of honesty is just how I keep my kids safe in these challenging times.

So, how do I get my kids not to lie to me?

  • Since they were little, we had a ‘no lying’ policy. As long as you told the truth, you didn’t get in trouble.  Everyone is allowed to screw up.
  • I don’t force them to lie.  I give careful consideration to out-of-the-box requests or new experiences. I explain my reasons for saying ‘no’ or my boundaries that accompany a ‘yes’.
  • I stalk them on Facebook. Teens are stupid. They post things online that interfere with lies. They know I’m ever present, so why bother.
  • We talk.  Actually, I ask questions, and they give me one word answers.  But, in the teen world, that’s talking.
  • I try not to judge.   I’m not condoning certain activities, but if they’re going to happen, I may as well know about it.
  • While I don’t facilitate illegal behaviours (such as purchasing alcohol for them or letting them drink in front of me), I try not to lecture when I hear about it afterwards (sometimes I can’t help myself).
Its such a slippery slope raising teenagers these days.  I’m not their friend, but I’m not their Master either (I do, however, fancy myself the Queen of  the World , though. Ask them, its true).
In my world, its never too soon to learn that honesty is the best policy.  Plus, if you can’t tell your mother, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.


  1. You always have such great posts 🙂 I agree with your approach 100% – the kids who’s parents are super strict, and would NEVER allow a single screw up during the teenage years, demand perfection – those are the ones who’s kids are doing really bad stuff behind their backs. If they get ONE chance to get out for the night, they’ll shove ALL the fun they never get to try into one night, and over do things. {Teens don’t really do “moderation” well, do they?} But the parents who set boundaries, give advice and guidance – but accept that all teens have to make really stupid mistakes from time to time {it’s called learning} will end up with kids who don’t try to hide as much…. meaning they’re a LOT safer out there 🙂

    • Thanks so much Meaghan. We’ll try to live up to your praise! You are so right-as soon as something is forbidden, it makes it even more attractive to teenagers. What seems to work is controlled screwing up. They need to learn life skills and make mistakes with guidance.

  2. I loved this post. I agree with you 100% and I hope that I can be as sane and sensible when my kids hit their teens. The oldest is 10 and we seem to be on the right track. I told many a ‘fib’ to my parents and as an adult, I have learned that they always knew what I was really up to and never called me on it. I want to make sure that my kids know they can always tell me the truth because I want to be there when they need me. Got drunk at a party? Take a cab and I’ll pay for it, put a bucket by your bed, and give you tylenol and orange juice in the morning. And if there is a lecture in the morning, well sometimes I know I just can’t help myself either (I think it’s part of our mom DNA)

    • Lecturing is inevitable. When I say, ‘And I’m not joking…’ Their answer is: ‘Well, we can tell by your tone that you’re serious.’ The only way we can keep these kids safe these days is to be open and honest, lay the expectations out clearly on the table and then just BE there.

  3. YES! love this post. We also have a no lies policy. I would rather know than not know. I try really hard to not judge their friends, and ask questions about how they are handling certain situations. Incidentally – my kids growing up has had a huge impact on our child care plans. Obviously at 13 and 16 they don’t need a babysitter – they need a chauffer. I had a college student that helped me with the driving around while I worked. Too many days I came home to a barrage of questions, stressed out kids with something on their mind they just had to get off their chest. I realized that what my teens needed was a mom. I was able (THANKFULLY) to get more flexibility at work. Just being there when they get in the mood for a talk is huge.

    But, yes, sometimes what they need to talk about is the fact that S and C are having sex now, so it is kind of uncomfortable to hang out with them at lunch time. Deep breath… Don’t freak out… Respond calmly… I can see how that would make you uncomfortable…

    Never a dull moment. 😉


  4. Same policy over here. They’ll get in monumental trouble if they lie, but the truth will lighten the repercussions. Although if they’ve truly screwed up there are still consequences, truth or not.
    We’re open, talk about everything, and I mean EVERYTHING even at the dinner table, and our teen son is comfortable discussing sex, drugs and rock & roll with his parents. Can’t complain.

  5. I know my teens are not THAT open with me, but I can tell you that we DO have a “no questions asked” policy regarding drinking/drugs/driving. If they ever need a ride home for any reason: their ride is drunk, there are drugs at the party, they themselves (when old enough to drive) are too drunk to drive, they can call us. We will pick them up, drive them home. No questions asked. No judging. No punishment. As a result, god willing, we’re hoping for no phone calls from the police station or the hospital. :-/

  6. Thank-you, for years i have heard what a “bad” parent I am from family and friends. My only child would not even bother to Lie, no need. Not even a “white” lie which sometimes we all need to use. I’m proud that I know what’s going on in her life. I am also a high school teacher, so I know what the real world is like. Parents need to get their heads out of the sand, it’s the only way to protect our consequences means you’ll get the truth, I may not like it, but my child knows she can call me anytime and I’ll be there. Better, to keep them alive than have them lie and end up dead.

    • That’s too bad that people said you were a bad parent for encouraging and open and honest home. I’m sorry you had to go through that. You are so right-people need to get their heads out of the sand. Denial is just as bad as overpermissiveness is just as bad as too many rules!!

  7. Pam @writewrds says:

    Totally agree. I think it’s more important to be open and honest and respectful. And most of all to talk things out.
    Teens are young adults.


  1. […] that honesty is the best policy, and too flummoxed to lie, I answered him, Mommy got her period and needed to buy […]

  2. […] These days it’s really hard to lay down absolutes for tweens and teens.  They have so many choices, so many methods of communication, so many work-arounds.  Current parenting theory, such as my own, does not propose helicopter parenting of the ’I make all your decisions for you and you should just listen to me‘ variety. In theory, what I’d like is for  my kids to take the life skills rules and advice  that I share with them and to apply the information when making intelligent and well-thought out choices.  This is how I hope to equip them to deal with life, and how I create a no-lying environment. […]

  3. […] many rules to make and even more to follow.So many opportunities for parents to help their kids make good choices according to the values in the home.  Are you going to waste your no on a itsby bitsy polka dot […]

  4. […] he still broke my rule.  I don’t have a lot of them, because I want my children to learn how to make good choices within my boundaries. But, the few […]

  5. […] I say they’re going to do it anyways, and shouldn’t they be able to tell us the truth? […]

  6. […] tout. No lecture. He knows what I’m talking about, and what the score is in our house. Own up to your mistakes, be better next […]

Speak Your Mind