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).