hello all. Again I turn to you for help. i have just discovered that my daughter has been lying to me (she’s 13.5) about completing her math. I have trusted her and have not checked it myself in some time, as she’s been “checking it, supposed to come to me with problems”. Here’s the kicker. this is not the first time. she did this about 9 months ago, and we had serious talks, she had to go back and redo every single problem while i hovered over her, plus she lost her cell phone, youth group, and she had to do all the family’s laundry for a week, plus she had to do the dishes every night as well. We had significant talks about sharing her heart, about how the appearance of good certainly doesn’t mean anything. we talked about trust and lying. and she did it again. now, i am enraged at myself for having been so lazy and for awhile, this summer (she was doing math in the summer because of all the time she wasted in cheating with LOF), I have been saying, “Ok, bring me your books, I need to see your books, are you really doing your work, etc” and then I would get distracted by the four other people who need me, and sort of forget that I hadn’t done it. It’s been on my to-do list and it never got done. But she had to lie right to my face for some time.
My daughter is a good kid. she’s very bright, she’s beautiful, she’s super responsible – everywhere we go, people praise her for her responsibility and helpfulness; she’s my oldest, out of five. but i know that she constantly feels she needs to seek the approval of those around her. so much so, that she doesn’t really share her heart with me, and often, i think, she tells me what she thinks I want to hear, instead of how she’s really feeling. I know she loves the Lord, I know she’s accepted Christ (she was 7), and I’m fairly certain she wants to live for Him, but I’m not so sure she understands grace, KWIM?
So, here’s another kicker. she’s away on vacation with some good friends of ours. i was so enraged yesterday when we found the MUS test booklet she’d hidden and claimed she lost (tell me how you lose a book between your mattress and box spring), and I was so hurt as i looked through her student book and nearly blank test book, that i texted her “you are in a ridiculous amount of trouble when you get home.” so there’s the problem. how can i expect her to share her heart with me and learn grace when i actually thought about it and decided that i wanted her to have to sit and fester with this all week, just like me? she called me to ask what it was about, and i said we’d talk when she got home, but that i found her math books and i was very upset. i know she can’t enjoy herself now, and i need to call and apologize for ruining her vacation. it was selfish and unkind and spiteful of me.
with all that said, i’m going to have to really work with her on this…the deceit – the making sure it LOOKs like she’s being good, while inwardly she’s being deceitful. my best friend who was raised Christain (i was not), says this is kind of a hotbutton issue with Christian kids…that they see it as a behavior issue, not a heart/relationship issue. Often these kids, she says, are prone to being concerned with how they look, how they behave, but their hearts are not opened to Him. Where have I failed? How do I tie heartstrings now? How do I show her that God knows everything and it’s not about her behavior, but her heart? how do i show grace wihile setting boundaries and consequnces?
I would like to read some books/stories/biograpies about people who have struggled with this, who maybe have struggled with the external good/inward lies type dichotomy. People who had to come to that place where they had to allow themselves to be saved by their Savior? I just read Stepping Heavenward, and that will go on the list, but can anyone think of anything else she could read? Her dad and I are really tight, and we are fairly strict with our kids; we’ve been open about our need for Him, and we try to be humble before the kids and each other. We really do our best to live out our faith; our family is our #1 priority, after Jesus of course. I know I’ve probably leaned on my daughter too much for help with all the littles, and I haven’t made enough special time for her as she’s grown into a teenager because of the chaos of the rest of our life these last few years (the moving, the loss of income/house, the difficult spiritual battles, difficult family relationships, etc). I’m not sure how to even make that separate time for each kid. i really really want to be a safe space for her, and it breaks my heart that i’m not. my mom is not a safe space for me. so i get how bad that hurts. sigh. any direction would be helpful. please pray. at some point today, i will be calling her to apologize for sending that text and ruining her vacation.
only by His grace,
We all make mistakes, and that is ok. It should be expected. You sound like such a caring, humble mom, don’t fret about the text. Apologize for acting on your anger of her misbehavior, and let her know to not worry about anything until there is a more appropriate time for discussion. She knows you love her, and you can retie strings afterwards. She, like all of us, is growing and learning about grace. I am reminded everyday of His mercies, and same is true for even our kids.
Also, a good book for learning to parent with grace is Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatick. It showed me a basic understanding of how to discipline better in light of grace.
We have had the same issue with our oldest child (a girl as well). It has gotten much better but there are times it pops up again. I would not mess around with lying. You might want to metion to her that Satan is talked about in the Bible as the Father of Lies…..does she want to be like that? Since she has broken your trust she has to earn it back – how can she be trusted on anything now? If she can remain honest for 60 days, then privilidges should be returned. This may sound harsh, but don’t feel guilty about ruining her vacation……..she ruined it herself. You cannot tie heartstrings with a child that you do not trust or that does not respect you. Lying to your face habitually (or even once) is a HUGE disrespect. Once your trust and her respect is gained back, then you can move forward with tying heart strings.
I totally understand your feelings. I will be praying for wisdom for you.
Of course, she is the true victim of her lies, and she will realize that as now she will still have to complete the work that she lied about. I would caution you not to determine discipline while you are angry. Use the time until she goes home to think calmly. Natural consequences are always best, and we are more likely to go over board when we are angry. Obviously the consequence here will include finishing the work and showing it to you daily and not being able to advance to the next level. If she has already started High school, then she will need to be reminded of what is required to graduate, and how wasting time not doing the work will set her back. Is there was some way of ensuring that she had to complete it on her time.
You should also try to have an honest talk about the WHYs of the situation: Why didn’t she do the work and why did she lie about it? The reason is important — it’s not an excuse — but it’s important to know. Does she just really hate math? Is L of F too boring? Was she worried about feeling stupid if she asked for help? Did she feel like her work load was over whelming and was afraid to tell you for some reason? I’m grasping here, but you get the idea.
Not sure if this will help at all, but I wanted to share a little. I was a terrible, but skilled liar from the age of about 11.5 to almost exactly the day I turned 15. I still have no idea why, what my motivation was. I just did it. Most times, I didn’t gain any advantage, and I was in a situation that I almost always got “caught”. Usually I would lie about very inconsequential things. For example, I remember standing in a large crowd and having someone ask me what color my eyes were. I replied “Blue”, even though my eyes are very obviously green, and the person asking could look and see that; she could disprove what I said immediately, but still I lied. Again, no “reason” to lie. I think sometimes it was just the challenge of lying to see if I could. I wasn’t raised a Christian so that had very little bearing on my actions. Perhaps the fact that I had theatrical tendencies and/or aspirations had some sway.
I guess the bottom line is that it was a phase that I grew out of. I am now very straight-forward and honest, almost too much so sometimes. I am not deceitful, and I value very much honesty in my friends and children. We are very strict about lying in our home. Maybe this gives you hope that there will be an end and your daughter will likely be a wonderful person in the long run.
Maybe you can discuss with her some of the reasons that people lie and see if she can figure it out for herself and then stop it on her own. Of course, she should still be disciplined, but you might need to dig and uncover her “reason” before it will cease. Some possible reasons could be wanting attention, avoiding discipline, just for the fun of it (challenge), boredom, example from peers, laziness (doesn’t do assignments, but wants to still appear capable), possibly the math is too hard a level for her – or too easy? Seriously, each child in the world could have his or her own unique reason. With your relationship fairly close, the two of you can probably work together to figure hers out.
I wish you luck! And patience! HTH
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