As parents, from the time our children come to us, we are constantly lying to them. We lie about Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, about what happened to the family dog and the list just goes on. In the early days we lie because we want to encourage their imagination or protect them but as they get older, some of us fail to realize that the lying just cannot continue. Here are 7 reasons never to lie to your teen.
1. Openness and Honesty Works Both Ways
We all want our children to be open with us and honest about their lives, relationships, challenges and concerns. At the same time, we don’t want to let them know too much about our lives. The fact is that openness in a relationship is a two way street. It is only works when both parties share so don’t lie when they ask you what’s wrong; try the truth.
2. Kids Are Smarter than You Think
As kids get older, they are sharper and more insightful. They can pick up on body language, comments and underlying tensions. When you lie to them, you’re insulting their intelligence. So next time if they want to know why their parents seem so cold with each other, rather than denying it, tell them you are working some issues out and will try not to be so unpleasant.
3. If You Get Caught in a Lie, You’ll Lose Their Trust
From the time they enter your lives, you are the whole world for your children. There is no one they trust more and you will retain their trust forever unless you do something to lose it. One of the ways you can lose their trust is by lying. So as they get older, choose carefully what you want to hide from them.
4. Treat Them with Respect
Teenagers think they are adults even though they greatly lack the maturity and reason that comes with adulthood. That said, they expect the same amount of respect an adult would so treat them accordingly. Lying to them just makes them feel undermined and consequently rebellious.
5. You Are Not Actually Protecting Them
One of the main reasons parents lie to their children is to protect them. That may work when they are smaller but once they become teenagers, you are not protecting them. They need to know that you can offer them support in all of life’s problems and if you never talk about it, they will never feel they can talk to you about it.
6. You Cannot Preserve Their Innocence
Failing to warn your daughter about the pitfalls of unprotected sex is not protecting her innocence. It is a recipe for disaster. Whether you like it or not our children are in a world where information is everywhere so if you want them to get the right information, you have to dish it out yourself.
7. Saying You Don’t Know is Not a Bad Thing
Sometimes your teenager will ask complex questions and you may not be in a position to answer. It could relate to religion, sex or current events. In such situations, frankly telling them you don’t know the answer is absolutely fine. They will appreciate it much more than an idiotic lie or barely concealed change of topic.
Lying to your teen is a slippery slope so tread carefully. You want to have a strong and long lasting relationship with your children and during these adolescent years, you will face the greatest challenges. Being open and honest is one sure way to keep the dialogue going.
Top image source: michaelshouse.com