DS1 (16) is an habitual liar. Sigh.(27 Posts)
My otherwise charming and engaging DS has got into the habit of lying about everything, every little detail of his life. He is so bloody obvious when he is doing it he might as well walk around with a handbell. Nobody believes a word he says any more because it's so ubiquitous. I don't know what to do as I am fed up of expressing disgust. Anyone got any suggestions?
Why does he do this? Have you got to the bottom of that?
Is this lying to get out of trouble or just fantasy rubbish? I used to do this when I was about the same age - I was just trying out ideas and seeing what other people found interesting, amazing or awesome. I regularly made up extra (amazing) siblings for instance, and pretended my mother was Jewish.
I think he basically is doing it to get out of hassle, for example if I ask him whether he has finished packing his school bag, he just says 'yes', if I ask him if he has cleaned up his bedroom he says 'yes' etc etc. All normal teenage stuff. But then it goes on and on, lying about anything and everything, however routine - he lies about what he does in lessons, he lies about where he has put things of ours he has borrowed, he lies about where his own things are, he lies about money, he lies about minor household stuff, and this pretty much happens every single time he opens his mouth.
It came to a head recently when he completely fabricated his mock exam results and accepted praise when they were about two grades out from the official school ones (because he had done zero revision, and yes, he had lied about that too, on a daily basis). Then he lied elaborately over the last two weeks about attending Taekwondo with his friend, which he is supposed to be doing as part of his D of E bronze, something he volunteered for - basically he has just been cycling down to his late's house and hanging out there. He pretended he had his Taekwondo clothes on under his jeans and jumper (does he think I am stupid?) He even came back five minutes before the end of the putative Taekwondo session, let alone the 15 minutes travelling time (yes, he obviously thinks I am totally stupid). He lies about what he can and can't remember, he pretends he can't tell the time, he spends money on DH's credit card and lies that he didn't know what he was doing, he lies that he has met homework deadlines and school responsibilities. There is nothing he doesn't lie about, big or small.
The thing is, I am not a shouty parent or even a particularly demanding one, and I only chase him when absolutely necessary. And nearly all of the lies are so obvious I just say to him, "You have lied about that, haven't you?" and he says "Yes". I refuse to enable this, so I call his bluff a lot.
I have really called his bluff this time, and dobbed him to the D of E organiser, so he won't get his award now. Apart from anything else, he makes me look a right idiot half the time and I really had had enough.
But I still don't get why you would lie so much if there is so little in it for you.
No, can't say I get it either! Clearly he doesn't realise how easy it is to get these sort of lies busted. Has he always done this - or is it just teenage?
My only other thought is does he have any area that he excels in? Or is he just trying to get your praise by any means possible - even if that involves lying?
I was like that at 16.
I was really, really miserable, not confident at school, not confident with friendships, felt hugely under pressure from the parent I lived with, and couldn't find any way of articulating what was going on for me, even to myself.
That's probably not helpful, is it?
He has a bit of pressure in his life but less than many teens, I think. And he is popular with lots of friends, plus his teachers like him even though is lies a lot to them as well. I honestly think it is just some sort of very bad habit.
I think people would probably have said the same about me.
Objectively, there wasn't too much going wrong, but I didn't experience it like that and didn't know how to ask for help.
Am not excusing my or his behaviour, and am well aware of the teenage narcissicism and muddleheadedness at the root of it, but if he's lying about exam results that really isn't because of a bad habit, it's because he thinks he ought to have done better and can't face owning up to you or himself about what's gone wrong.
he spends money on your husband's credit card? Well, stop that straight away.
don't let him borrow anything. Let him take the consequences of not doing stuff.
tell him to stop insulting your intelligence - but also ask him why he is doing this, because it wastes everyone's time and will soon result in loss of friends.
Why are you asking him about his schoolbag and bedroom? He's more than old enough to look after (or not) both himself and take any consequences of not doing so. I'd let him get on with the DofE thing on that basis too. The exam thing is weird. He must know he'll get busted fairly quickly for that but even then I'd step back and let him get on with his exams or not on his own behalf and sink or swim with that.
How on earth has he got access to his dad's credit card? Change 'em pronto.
Seems to me it might be that he's feeling over-controlled even though you don't think you're hovering. Maybe try stepping back a bit?
He does have ADHD (inattentive type) so we have to supervise him with a light touch on organisation, otherwise he gets tied in knots. But really I got so cross with him last night I refused to cover his back any more unless he started being truthful. The D of E thing basically is a PE option at school and he chose it to get out of normal PE, but while he did do the hikes, he hasn't done most of the supporting stuff. But he will be back onto the normal PE schedule now, after my email, which will mean unpleasant consequences for having been lazy and then lied to me. I already covered for him once on condition he pulled up his socks. Which clearly he hasn't done.
WRT the credit card thing, I just dock his allowance to repay any money. He does have a 16+ bank account and associated debit card, and he gets £50 a month allowance, so it's not like he hasn't got the means to spend his own money, he just chooses not to and then gets told off. I did call him a bloody little thief last night though, as I think it's happened 5 times now.
I do think he was embarrassed about his exams. He's that narcissistic he thinks all doors will open for him regardless of any effort he puts in. DH and I sat him down at the weekend and said he needed to start thinking about a possible trade in case he doesn't get into VIth form college, so for example catering or hospitality or something - perfectly reasonable careers that worked well for his sister. He had a fit and went into a tailspin, but he doesn't connect failing to work with failing to be accepted on academic courses and needing to find a vocational alternative.
Did this too as reaction against overly ccontrolling parent...
I agree with Chivetalking. You don't need to be asking him if he's packed his school bag, surely. Maybe try saying "I know you haven't finished cleaning your room, it's fine, but can you please make sure you finish it at the weekend?"
You might not be a shouter, or even a demanding parent in your eyes, but are you a bit of a low level (dare I say it, for want of a better word,) nagger? I find myself doing this sometimes, and have to consciously make myself stop.
Maybe he's playing a game with you, and knows it annoys you and is trying to wind you up?
I don't understand it at all. I watched a program last night, though, where as a teenager, this girl had a massive tattoo on her entire chest area just to piss off her grandparents. Clearly, some teenagers will do illogical and bizarre things when they feel they are misunderstood, not allowed to express themselves or take responsibility for certain aspects of their lives.
Maybe he's depressed, and just can't motivate himself. Someone said he will end up losing friends over this, but unless I've missed something, I don't think he has been lying to his friends, has he?
Sorry, OP, didn't realise about the ADHD, and the implications this has for organisational skills when I posted.
This is true, he hasn't been lying to his friends. That's a good sign, isn't it? Indicates volition.
On reflection, I think he is probably lacking in motivation and yet very anxious about what his parents and school will think about him when he fails to do things that he knows he should.
I am not sure how to respond when it's higher stakes stuff. For example, her has just lost his season ticket - again - so I supplied him with my last passport photo of him, and £20, and told him to speak to the station supervisor about it. I adopted a tone of weary disgust and said ,"I suppose I will not get any change back from that £20, will I?" because so often he just hangs on to the change for things and then lies about how much they cost. Should I just have said, "Never mind, poor BoffinBoy, we'll sort you out?" I honestly don't know what's best, given that he does this 2-3 times a year (and sometimes we get sent steep fines from the rail company as he travels without it without realising until the inspector gets on, and then fails to tell us he has been fined).
Similarly he put off writing his personal statement for one of the post 16 places he is applying for - I helped him type up the first one which he was supposed to make a few adjustments to, but he just didn't bother and played computer games instead. We offered help early in the evening but he refused to do it. He came to me at my bedtime finally asking for help (something he does frequently in relation to lots of things), and I just told him it was too late as I was tired and going to bed, and he would just have to not apply or send the unedited version. He was a bit shocked when I said that, so his dad helped him (good cop to my bad cop) and I finished off his application the next day for his dad to post via Special Delivery so it would get there on time (they are both dyslexic so I acted as human spellcheck). I could have said, "That's fine, I will stay up late and do it," but that would not be acknowledging the fact that a) this sort of thing happens a lot, too much in fact, and b) he chose to play games all evening and not crack on with the application (he has been procrastinating for a whole month on it, in actual fact).
I suppose I am just conscious of the need to resist enabling some of his nonsense and to force him to face up to a few consequences. But maybe I am adopting the wrong tactic, I don't know.
In his defence there are no tattoos. His much older sister, on the other hand, loves the things, and to my eye looks like someone attacked her with a blue felt tip pen while she slept.
BoffinBoy is also strangely averse to alcohol, fags and wacky baccy, again unlike his sister who was rather wild, with his two vices apparently being drinking Monster and wrecking his teeth, and looking at pert female bottoms on the internet. We could have done a lot worse.
I think you sound like a bit of a pushover tbh.
I wouldn't have given him £20 when he lost his season ticket, he would've been paying out of his own allowance (ditto fines). Maybe the first time, but not given that it happens repeatedly.
And your DH was mad to help him with his application at bedtime, as he'd spent the evening playing games and refusing your help because the timing didn't suit him.
His repeated misuse of your credit card demonstrates utter contempt for you.
I just don't see any negative consequences for him (apart from the DofE thing, which is too little too late IMO).
The fact that he doesn't lie to his friends speaks volumes - he values their good opinion and wouldn't like the consequences of pissing them off.
Interesting. I don't disagree with you, actually.
I gave him the £20 as I docked February's allowance in its entirety to repay the game purchase. Otherwise he couldn't have gone to school, or we would have been fined by the rail company. I could quite easily add the £20 to the deductions from March's allowance, but we get into the position where he has literally no money for anything all of the time (this has happened before). It's as though he can't make the connection between the misdemeanour and the punishment 2-6 weeks later.
Am I the only one who thinks that £50 is a lot of money for someone this age? I know I'm guilty of boycotting this thread, but is that just money to treat himself to things?
With regards to the not lying to friends thing, it's good in one way and not good in another, OP.
It's good that he can obviously control when he lies, and who he lies to, but the flip side is that he's choosing to do it to you and DH. Someone mentioned contempt for you, and I would agree with this.
It does sound like he wraps you round his finger, but I've no helpful advice, sorry.
My gut feeling is that he is either depressed, or doing it because he feels he has no control over his life or because he wants your attention. How does he seem, OP? Does he seem happy most of the time? Is he talkative or secretive and sad?
Ah teenage boys.... (sigh!) I think it's especially hard when they've need us to organise them in the past and we've kind of kept on.... My first thought is, ask fewer questions. Go and see if his bedroom is tidy and if it isn't then tell him to do it. Or go for the "his bedroom his business" approach, which does not work in my household because we get mice and because DS (15 yo, Asperger's diagnosis) blows a fuse when he can't find things..... Also, our DS's are old enough to take more responsibilty for their own actions, and old enough to decide whether they want help on our terms or would rather muddle along on their own.
So you could ask him if he wants to be reminded about specific things he struggles with like the schoolbag and make a deal - "I will remind you to pack your schoolbag so long as you go and do it straight away. Otherwise I will stop reminding you". I made a deal with my DS - "I will remind you if you don't snarl at me"!! Even if your DS has ADHD he needs to learn strategies for managing things by himself, so if he doesn't want to be reminded then let him forget and take the consequences a few times, then maybe talk about techniques to make things easier - visual lists, packing it the night before, whatever.
Also watch your communication - the weary sarcasm thing can be quite destructive. Positive instructions are better - "please bring home all the change and a receipt". Ask him for the change and receipt afterwards, or call the station and find out how much it should cost.
Leaving the CV til bedtime sounds like anxiety. For this one, you could either insist that he does it at a time that suits you and stops avoiding it, or else let him not do it and take the consequences. In our house that would be "I will help you now, get off the computer and we will do it, I do not have time to do it later". And if he doesn't, that would be his decision.
In theory i'm in favour of letting your DS sort out the Duke of Edinburgh stuff himself too. They would eventually have found out from the instrucotr's repoert that your DS was skipping Taekwondo and he wouldn't have got the DofE. But in reality, I do intervene with my DS's DofE, nag him to do music practice etc (subject to the no-snarling rule :-)) . My other rule is that if I pay for lessons then if DS skips too many then I will stop paying for them, end of, and I do check with the instructors.
I'd be relatively easy on losing things, since he has ADHD and I was a forgetter myself. I just wouldn't give him any expensive kit (like fancy phones!) to lose.
But I would do whatever is necessary to stop him taking money from your credit cards - at least report the cards lost and get new ones, put passwords on online accounts etc. That is deliberate stealing and I would come down hard on it myself. Sure, when my DS was 8 yars old he took some cash and I treated it lightly as "unauthorised borrowing" but I also warned him not to do it again and that it could be seen as stealing. At 16, I definitely call it stealing (though I'd be careful to say "that was stealing" rather than "you are a thief" if you see what I mean!), and I'd put some heavy consequences on beyond just repayment. Given that you have let him get away with before you need to warn him exactly what the consequences will be if he does it again. And then stick to them.
Sorry that was a bit of an essay. My DS rarely fibs but if you have any ideas on how to get him to need less nagging... Good luck!
You all say wise things.
I am temporarily worn out by being a parent to this child and hitting the chocolate.
I feel like he has worn me down.
I will try to draw strength and then go and kick a bit of ass, as they say.
I girded my loins, went up there, explained it was the lack or respect that had been the most offensive aspect of his behaviour this week, and commanded him to clean and tidy his room within the next ten minutes.
There was no objection.
The floor is clear and he is hoovering …
Washing has been brought down.
Action is happening up there.
Baby steps I know, but symbolic ones.
He spontaneously offered to make me a cup of tea, and delivered it to the study.
That's good to hear! All steps in the right direction. (Glad you had a chocolate-break too)
Well done you! Crikey its a nice feeling when you feel you are taking back control isnt it?
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.