My teen hurt my feelings this week…again. Kids do that all of the time, and the grownup thing to do is to let it slide, right?! But she lied to me…again. WHY?!
I went into my child’s closet to grab something the other day. What did I see sitting atop the clean clothes that had fallen off their hangers (this could be an entire other blog post)? The big ol’ bottle of vodka that we had purchased for our holiday party but never opened. Many thoughts went through my head. I had my phone in my hand, so I did what any modern parent would do: I took a picture and texted it to my kid with a “WTF?” attached.
She was on the bus from school and texted back, “How did that get there???” followed by, “I am almost home.”
Upon her arrival, a discussion ensued. She tried to blame a friend, though I am much more astute than to simply fall for that. “OK, then,” I replied. “[Said friend] is not welcome at my house until [they] apologize to me for taking my vodka. Plus, [they] have to tell [their] mother what [they] did.”
My child walked off to her room with this information. Not long after, she was back in the kitchen and the truth came out. My child was the one who had been taking swigs of the vodka.
I am still not sure why. She could not really tell me. I guess because she is a teen. I am realistic enough to know that teens do things like this. I was a teen once, after all. I know what teens do. I was considered a “good” kid, but even the “good kids” are not completely honest with their parents. I still did forbidden things and lied about it.
I am not naïve. I know my child is going to lie to me. But I have tried to look at the things that my parents did when I was a child that really hurt me and may have caused me to lie and modify my parenting actions. I have been so proud of the great relationship I have with my kids. I have cultivated a bond with them through connected parenting. I listen to them. I try to remain calm, though I often fail at that. We have conversations. Dad and I set our boundaries. I thought this meant I would have this great, mature relationship with my kids as they reached the high school years. How naïve am I?
So I have now decided parenting a teen is too hard. I just want to sit on the couch, binge drink red wine, and binge watch some random television series every night. Isn’t that a legitimate parenting technique?! I know it is not. But, apparently it is totally normal for teens to lie to their parents for a multitude of reasons like because they are trying to fit in with their friends or because they do not want to interrupt what they are doing at the moment.
As another mother said, “I don’t care so much that [my child] was doing this thing. It is a thing teens do. But I care that she lies about it.”
And the things they lie about are so bizarre! I hate it! It makes me feel like a failure as a parent. I question my parenting skills. Here we are tooling along through a day then I find out she has lied to me about whether she has eaten dinner or some other lame thing. And she tells those lies straight to my face without blinking. The falsehoods just roll off of her tongue. What the heck? WHY?!
The fact is, kids lie. It is a part of growing up and testing and establishing their independence and own identity. Apparently there is also some biological basis for teen lying—something about the prefrontal cortex not working as well during the teen years.
But that does not take away the fact that parents feel hurt. Lying makes us question our ability to trust our kids. We also dislike being manipulated. No one likes being lied to.
The funny thing is, we all lie from time to time and our kids see us doing it. We like to get out of doing things we do not want to do. We lie to spare people’s feelings. We lie to spare ourselves embarrassment.
What to take from all of this? Your teen is going to lie to you. So take your hurt feelings, have a glass of wine, and binge-watch old episodes of Parenthood. Feel sorry for yourself for a couple of hours, and then put on your adult face and parent on.