How do you handle lying?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by dashcat, Mar 19, 2010.

  1. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    I'm fairly new here and I have found this site and this forum to be very helpful. I've been reading the archives, particularly on the subject of detaching & the brainstorming list. One of my big flaws if "overtalking" and I know it has made things difficult for my difficult child and for myself. As I've come to realize that a great deal of her behavior is difficult child-related and NOT a normal teen phase, I've had to change my thinking as well as the way I talk and listen to her.

    She has HUGE issues with lying. She lies to avoid things, she lies for attention and she lies when she doesn't need to lie. I am trying to figure out how to draw the line between what I can let go and what I cannot as far as holding her accountable.

    Have any of you dealt with chronic lying? What kind of responses do you give when you know your difficult child is lying?

    Here's an example. She is living with her dad right now and supposedly looking for a job. I sent her an email on Tuesday with a link for a job with a company that owns a string of convenience stores, one of which is right across the street from where she is living. I talked with her that afternoon at 4:00 and asked if she'd checked into it. She said "no, I was just getting in the shower, but I will." I said "ok" and made plans to pick her up at 6:00 so she could have dinner with me and watch a movie. She got in the car at 6:00 and said "I went and filled out an application." I suspected she didn't because I KNOS her habits. There is no way she got in the shower at 4:00, got ready and made it across the street and back by 6:00. Plus her dad later told me he got home at 5:00 and she was up getting ready and she did not leave til I got there. I did not ask her about the job a second time (and wasn't going to), she volunteered and she wasy lying.

    Believe me, she lies about much bigger things than that, and I do call her on the big ones.

    Her dad pretty much never calls her on her lies - even the big ones, so it's always me.

  2. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Lying is a problem. Duh you Mine lied too...all the time. It got so bad I barely believed a word that came out of his mouth that I couldnt verify first. Mine lied to get or keep out of trouble or to do what he wanted to do. When there were all 3 kids here I simply stopped asking the "who did it" type questions. I knew I wasnt going to get the truth. I just said stuff is not done, we arent going to the store until it is. Then I left them alone to sort it out.

    Or someone broke this. Or whatever.

    Now once they started moving out, then it became more clear who the perpetrator was. Or I knew dear Cory had stolen whatever. I didnt ask if, I would sometimes ask why. I never got a good answer though. I would tell him I knew he did it...or didnt do it, if it was something he was supposed to do. Now he doesnt lie to me so much...or if he does, I dont know.

    Now my oldest, he makes up stories for attention I think. He will take a kernel of truth about something and spin them into the most idiotic tales. I have to double check anything he tells me if it sounds the least bit fishy. He tends to tell what would be called "tall tales."
  3. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Dashcat - I don't ask questions anymore. Kinda limits his ability to lie to me. I don't offer advice, I don't make suggestions. That way, he can't say he's already done it or tried it or whatever. He will occasionally toss something out there that is highly suspect in terms of truthfulness, usually something he thinks I want to hear ("hey, Mom, I'm getting my GED" or "I've been filling out applications all week"), but bottom line, I'm much less stressed if I just nod my head and say "that's great, dear" and leave it at that.

    Would it be nice if he were truthful? Absolutely, especially since in my book, lying is the supreme offense one of my kids can commit. I don't care what they do, just don't lie about it. The consequence will be 100 times worse if I catch them in a lie.

    I feel absolutely no need to call him on his lies, especially since he doesn't live here anymore. It is so not my problem.
  4. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    How do I handle lying? I stopped trying to prove she's lying (in my situation, Oldest is the chronic liar). It became exhausting, checking up on her to see if she was lying, and trying to figure out what the "truth" was. Plus, typically when "caught" in a lie, she continues the lie, anyway. She will explain discrepancies away as though *I* am the crazy one. So my response now tends to be the "nod and smile" kind.

    Re job applications, this is a never-ending drama with Oldest. If I say, "did you put in that job application?" she says, "yes, I did, but they never called back." If I say, "well did you call back and follow up/" she says, "yes, but they said I had to talk to the manager, and he wasn't there." "well, did you ask when he'd be there?" "Yes, they told me he'd be there last night, but when I called, he wasn't there." I swear, it is the EXACT same story with every application.

    I am working hard on not asking any more.
  5. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    Rob was a pathological liar and still lies often enough that I had to stop asking.

    Maybe I don't understand the whole situation but the scenario you describe sounds like a lose-lose proposition. Since daughter is living with Dad, I think I'd let her lies about job prospects be Dad's concern and not yours. If being employed is part of the deal with living with Dad then he can be the bad guy this time and make her toe the line...or not. If she takes advantage of him, that's his problem. :D

    I've found that in the long run our kids learn that lying is a problem when they try it on the BIG WORLD and not with us. They have no problem lying to us but an employer will fire them if they lie and/or so will a landlord and friends will drop them. They know lying is wrong because we've taught it to them but it's the life lessons from outside influences that will finally help them see the light.

  6. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    Thank you so much. You have all pretty much confirmed what I already knew, but was not giving myself permission to adopt. In my real life, I've not met anyone who has dealt with even a fraction of the lying I've been fighting for so many years. Only here, have I felt any kind of understanding. Moderator, I am with you on lying being the worst offense. I am honest to the point of pain, and I have also suffered great pain because of the lying of my DEX. For some odd reason, I thought I could somehow get her to SEE the value of truth ... and, by not doing so, I had somehow failed as a mother. I am beginning to see it differently.

  7. Here's a cool video from a "therapeutic" momma to a variety of kids with various issues.

    I like how she talks about giving the kids the opportunity to "make amends" because that is what they really need. That will help them heal.

    I like how she shares that she knows what works because she's done what hasn't about a million times.

    You'll notice the video's "star" is a blond who started dreads in her hair.
    I think that's pretty cool... because when we went through adoption classes we were advised if we adopted from a different culture it would be nice to "embrace" the culture of the adopted child rather than trying to make the adopted child fit into our culture.
  8. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    husband lies all the time much for the same reasons as your daughter. (he's a difficult child too) I've learned to let those that are harmless slide......and I don't ask many questions to give him the opportunity. It helps believe me.

    Travis tends to tell what my grandpa used to call Fish stories. I find most of them amusing. lol

    My brother, though.......OMG I can barely be around him 15 mins he is so bad.
  9. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    With my difficult child 1, the assumption is that if his lips are moving, he's lying. He lies all the time, about everything from trivia to very important things.
    I don't ask questions. I especially don't ask the question "why". Honestly, I don't want to know. And even if I did, his answers are generally so incoherent that it hurts my brain to try and sort it all out.

    I've told difficult child 1 the following:
    I don't believe a word he says, unless I have corroborating independent proof from a reliable source (e.g. I can see with my own eyes, husband tells me, staff at the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) confirm, etc.)
    Even if he's telling the truth "this time", he cannot be upset that I don't believe him "this time", because he caused my lack of trust in him.
    Unless he can show me by a long string of truth-telling (years, I think it would take at this point) that he's not in the habit of lying anymore, this won't change.

    Then I just don't worry about it and let the Big Fish stories roll off my back. Detachment really helps in this instance.

  10. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Oh yeah. Also natural consequences. If difficult child 1 tells a lie, he has to deal with the consequences of it.

    Here's an example:
    difficult child 1 told us last Saturday that his friend A offered him a day's paid work installing drywall. And that the friend was going to pick him up from his Nana's house to take him to the job site. Uncle R had been planning to take difficult child 1 out for a day-long ramble in the woods, which is one of difficult child 1's favourite things. However, because difficult child 1 had a job, the day-trip was cancelled. Turns out that difficult child 1 made up the story about the job. So, he missed out on a day-trip with his favourite uncle because he told a silly lie. His fault and he has to deal with it. No one is giving him any sympathy, because he did it to himself.
  11. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member

    Lying is symptomatic of poor coping skills. When we are unconditional with kids, don't use blame or get mad at them but are just there to help them solve problems , they learn to trust us - the problem is that they cannot trust us to love them unconditionally even when they screw up or don't meet our expectations. Her real problem could be in the context of going out and finding a job. Instead of questioning her and making her feel she has to live up to certain expectations - we can simply say - I have noticed that you are not so happy when I ask you about job hunting , what's up ? Drilling down to find her concerns and lacking skills is not easy. When kids feel safe and have a vision that they can deal with their issues , get good help there is not much reason to lie
  12. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    Oh my gosh, Allan, the reason that her lying has always been such a huge problem is that she rarely has "reason" to lie. If it were as simple as her feeling safe to tell the truth, I doubt we'd have very much of a issue.
  13. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    I think this type of senseless, chronic lying is a symptom of the mental illness.

    Our psychiatrist explaijned that difficult child lies because she doesn't trust herself....

    I think that makes sense. After all, if difficult child does not have a firm sense of herself--how can she possibly have a sense of what is true and what is not?
  14. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member

    Besides feeling safe , I mentioned poor coping skills and dealing with reality , being able to problem solve and have a vision for the future. Some kids wish their reality were different , wished things to be how they want it , to the point of instead of saying I wished I went to the job interview , they say I went to the job appointment. Dash - these are my tentative suggestions which might not apply to your child's situation but could apply to others reading this thread. generally speaking when kids feel accepted for who they are , don't have self esteem issues , find what they do intrinsically rewarding and can problem solve , they don't have lying issues.
  15. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    Thanks, Allan, and I apologize if I sounded snarky. I hear what you're saying, and I am sure it applies very well, as you said, to kids without self-esteem issues. In fact, I've used your technique (re the job hunting) in different situations with my difficult child and sometimes have had desirable results. All we can do is keep trying. And, daisy, I am beggging to see that his is part of MI. It is so ingrained in her ....
  16. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    One thing I have tried to teach Onyxx and Jett about lying... Is that if you lie about something, now you have to remember not only the truth but the lie as well... And then more lies have to be made up to cover the lie... And more truths/lies must be remembered. The other issue is that if you lie enough about something, you may start believing it yourself.

    Onyxx lies about really dumb stuff. Gets caught on a regular basis. In our home the rule is this: If you do something wrong and come clean when asked, you get in trouble. If you volunteer the info, you get in trouble - but less. If you lie about it - the trouble rises exponentially.

    Jett likes to exaggerate... and then say, "just kidding". But Onyxx? I just assume when she tells me something it's a load until proven otherwise.
  17. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think it depends on the child/person involved in the scenario. The lying can be a sign of mental illness...or not. If you are dealing with a person with a personality disorder or a conduct disorder, I really dont think the methods Allen mentions are going to work well at all. The person may fake it to manipulate the other person into what they want to hear but its all going to be a game. Its just what it is. Until that person decides on their own to change themselves there is little anyone else can do to mitigate the lying.
  18. Mom2oddson

    Mom2oddson Active Member

    Both my difficult children are chronic liars. Don't know if they are capable to actually telling the truth. Now that they are older, if I ask something and I know the answer is a lie. I don't argue. I act like I accept what they said. I know it's a lie and so do they. The consequences of thoses lies are going to be theirs, not mine. Unless they lie about something that will effect me, that's a different issue. But, if not, they have to deal. difficult child-A says that if he doesn't do his community service in the 60 days. He can, after the 60 days, decide to make $50 payments until whenever the fine is paid off. That's not what I heard the judge say, but if that's what he wants me to believe, he'll be the one in jail, not me.

    Step2....difficult child-S used the "just kidding" line when she was being mean. My answer was kidding is a joke like "knock, knock, who's there" anything else can hurt people. Not that it did any good, but I tried.
  19. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    My thoughts exactly, Janet. You can't reason with a person who has their hand in the cookie jar, and says, "no, I do not have my hand in the cookie jar. What are you talking about?" That is Oldest.
  20. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    I have been beating my head against this particular wall for years. I somehow thought I could "teach" difficult child to tell the truth - that I could help her to see the value of it. I reacted the way I did to Allan's well-intentioned suggestions becasue that's the kind of thing I hear in the real world. I am quickly learning that real world strategies do not work with difficult children. I'm learning a whole new set of rules here.

    I am beginning to understand that her lying is not something I can fix. I cannot lead by example. I cannot make her tell the truth by "catching" her, nor can I coerce the truth from her by making her feel safe.

    She lies about job hunting, she told her academic advisor that she could not complete an assignmen because her cousin was killed in a DUI (saying he was the driver and killed two others),she claims to have been hospitlized for anorexia, that I have called her a "dirty *****" ....none of this is even close to the truth ... I could go on and on......

    It's maddening, but it is hers to own. Thank you for helping me to see this.