Anyone with a teen or two has probably already had that shocking realization…”He’s lying to my face!” We KNOW we taught our kids how important it is to tell the truth, and we know that they used to be so innocent! Not anymore. And it’s devastating.
A study of 1,000 people age 6-77 (published in Acta Psychologica) revealed that the most honest people are the very young, and the aged. Teens, on the other hand, are the biggest liars, with 75% admitting to lying, with an average of 3 lies a day, while those 60 and older lie less when they do lie, and 55% tell NO lies.
What does this mean for parents? When your teen vigorously denies lying, and passionately exclaims, “Don’t you believe me?”… don’t feel too guilty for being suspicious. And a wise parent will check the facts if there’s a history of suspicious “stories” or an unlikely claim. It might be worth calling Sarah’s mom to see if your little angel REALLY went to the mall, or if they were at that party she begged you to be allowed to go to but you said “No” because you knew there wouldn’t be adults there.
And be prepared for the consequences. I’ve been through the teen years with my now grown daughters and I can testify that once trust is broken, it can take YEARS to regain. It’s important to treat lying seriously (apart from punishment or removing privileges), by discussing the effect lying has on relationships. I once asked my child WHY she lied, and the answer was “It’s easier.” I retorted that it might seem that way if you want get away with something, but because of lost trust and lost privileges, life was going to be a LOT more difficult for her for a while. She’s not a teen anymore, and guess what? She DID grow in this area as she aged…or perhaps she just learned the hard way that it doesn’t pay.