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WWYD about her lying?

(26 Posts)
ostrichneck Tue 08-Sep-15 15:16:19

Sorry that this isn't an AIBU and is very long but am posting for traffic as nothing in WWYD or Parenting yet.

My DD is 11yo and in her final year of primary school. Her dad and I have not been together for 9 years and have no relationship with one another. Part of the reason we split was his obsessive lying. Not always to me I should add, it's the kind of lying to impress people/exaggerate situations. For example - if he would be relaying a story to friends when we were together about a night out we had - I would be a bit hmm at some of the enhancements he added.

I am starting to notice this trait in my DD. She can start off telling me a fairly truthful story about her day at school but the moment she starts enhancing it - I can absolutely tell. Something unrealistic that a teacher may say or a friend may have done. When I confront her about it, it will be a lengthy denial before she admits she is not being truthful.

She also lies when she thinks she is protecting her fathers lies. Recently she came home and told me that her father had arranged for her favourite celebrity to come to her school and perform in front of the school for her. When I had to bring her back to earth and gently tell her that this would not be possible as there is no way in this earth that her father would have any connection with this man, she told me that he knows he was telling the truth because she saw her dad play football with this celebrity. Finally this was revealed as a lie and she just didn't want me to think that daddy was a liar. I know that I need to deal with the father about his lying to her - I mean, imagine she went into high school and told the kids at school this? She will be the liar, get bullied and have no friends. It is not only me that she will tell these 'stories' to and i almost die of embarrassment when i know she is doing it when talking to other people. But my issue and question from this thread is how do I stop this trait of lying?

We have been through every motion and emotion with it. We have sat and talked gently, I have explained to her the story of the boy who cried wolf, I have shouted (I can count the number of times I have shouted at her on one hand as this is not my parenting technique) - I even confess to having cried in front of her because it has upset me so much. I cannot abide liars and it is an absolutely disgusting trait that I just will not have in my house, especially when there is no need. I understand sometimes masking the truth to protect somebody sometimes and I understand little white lies if there is a particular reason. I am by no means perfect but I just cant tolerate lying.

I must add, that other than this particular problem, she is a perfectly well rounded child, polite & courteous, intelligent & studious, teachers cant compliment her enough! Yes she shows off a bit sometimes and has the odd backchat expected from a teen but my only real concern with her is this lying.

What do I do?

ostrichneck Tue 08-Sep-15 15:17:43

A pre-teen*

DoJo Tue 08-Sep-15 15:31:23

Does she respond to role play or putting herself in the position of being the person who is lied to? Perhaps you could get through to her by showing her how her friends will feel if she continues.

Has she ever really felt the effects of her father's lies? Has he let her down or do you always intercept the lie and soften the impact before she gets too caught up in the fantasy? Perhaps she is impressed by the lies, and because she has been shielded from the effects (understandably btw) she has never really associated the lies with the consequences.

GloGirl Tue 08-Sep-15 15:35:20

You need to step back. She's only being fanciful, it's very common. You're projecting because her Dad us such an arse.

My Dad loves 'telling a story ' with wild embellishment. I learnt as I've grown up and tried to do the same that people pick it apart and you look like a bit of a prick. So I don't now I am grown up. It's a natural consequences thing.

She might not realise shes doing it as the story is not truly exaggerated in her own opinion. How often do we really get the truth in a "he said/she said" situation even from very straight laced adults.

Stop critiquing her outlandish tales, if it's something that started with a lie, or gets a bit outrageous, call her bluff either by saying you'll have to report it to the school police etc.

Or if the story runs away a little bit just keep her in check with a "That doesn't sound like something Miss X would say."

ostrichneck Tue 08-Sep-15 15:41:00

Thank you very much for your replies.

I haven't tried that route Dojo but she does understand the impact her lies have on me, she got very upset when I was upset. I thought that would have been enough to stop her, but not so. And yes, I would generally have protected her from the majority of it so maybe she doesn't understand the implications.

That's the thing GloGirl - I don't want her to get to high school and for other kids to pick her apart and she becomes a bit of a prick - people will not like her and kids are cruel.

I have used the reporting to police, and I will call the teacher etc, and that has been the break down of one event.

I just wish she wouldn't do it. Do you really think that it is that common?

ostrichneck Tue 08-Sep-15 15:43:24

I think the worst thing is when I catch her out, she goes into a full on denial and continues to repeatedly lie until the very last minute and it comes out.... if she gets caught lying, I need her to just own up?

Mistigri Tue 08-Sep-15 15:49:14

I also think that you need to step back. If she tells you obviously fanciful stuff about her dad, reply with a disinterested "thats nice darling". Given her age there is probably a large element of her pushing your buttons.

Lying and then refusing to admit it is really fairly common at this age. Both my kids have done it, usually it's easy enough to see through. I only get cross if it's something that really mAtters, otherwise it gets met with a raised eyebrow and a "really?" and reminder about the story of Peter and the wolf.

SrAssumpta Tue 08-Sep-15 15:50:02

I was just about to deeply sympathize (which I still do) because I truly detest lies of any kind myself but then I remembered I few really embarrassing lies I told at around the same age, I told my class that my cousin was a Spice Girl, lots of stories about boys who were just crazy about me on holidays blush and plenty more. I was pretty well rounded too but looking back I definitely had confidence issues, could that be it?

I would be inclined to believe it's a bit more common than we realize, but yes very very annoying!

TeenAndTween Tue 08-Sep-15 15:50:43

Have you tried the tack 'Wow you have got a good imagination today! Fancy if that had really happened' ?

ie Make it clear you don't believe her, and don't get into an argument as to whether it is true or not.

And then maybe on separate occasions 'I know you have a great imagination, but you must remember your friends might not realise you are only telling stories, they could get very cross with you if they feel you have misled them'

cestlavielife Tue 08-Sep-15 15:54:11

"She will be the liar, get bullied and have no friends" not necessarily. you are projecting.

does she have friends now?
i agree with just saying yes dear that sounds nice and ignoring.

if/when it causes issues at school/with teachers then she will learn.
dont say "i told you so..."

BrandNewAndImproved Tue 08-Sep-15 15:55:26

My cousin used to do this in primary school, the stories were to funny and exaggerated. He stopped in senior school and now plans to be an actor. I think your projecting her df on to this and she will grow out of it.

ostrichneck Tue 08-Sep-15 15:56:26

She definitely has noooooooooo confidence issues SrAssumpta - probably the most confident child ever, will sing, dance, perform for anybody! This I can handle, as she will generally knock it off if I give her the eye when it becomes too much.

So the general consensus is to play it down and to kind of ignore it... That's good advice Teenandtween. This morning, I shouted. I will apologise for shouting but explain the bit about friends not understanding.

I think it's my fear that she will not grow out of it as her father appears not to have...

Thank you all.

ostrichneck Tue 08-Sep-15 15:57:11

I am going to do some reading on projecting

GloGirl Tue 08-Sep-15 16:15:56

She will lie, and will dig in to her lies because you make such a big deal of catching her out on one. "That's nice dear" "Gosh imagine if that really happened." "That doesn't sound like something Miss X would say" just dismiss them - unless as said they are dangerous, police worth etc.

I think it is a separate issue from her Dad's lies, although I completely see how you think it is the start of the same path.

Have a think about how your reactions might make it difficult for her to tell you the truth about what she has previously said, or what her father has told her. She's just trying to stand up for him - try and be on his side (as far as she thinks!!)

HeteronormativeHaybales Tue 08-Sep-15 16:28:09

Has she seen Nativity? OK, it all works out in the end (perhaps not the best final message), but you really cringe for the main character when his lie starts growing over his head/out of his control and it might be good pre-Christmas viewing for her this year, with a chat afterwards about 'how do you think he felt when...?' or 'what do we think about the lie he told?'

I agree you are projecting, or, rather, the situation is pushing some very uncomfortable buttons for you. I think your intense focus on getting to the truth when you notice she is lying/embellishing is going to drive her into denial, as she will feel backed into a corner, and the best way to deal with these situations would be to take the emotion/heat out of them with a comment such as a PP's suggestion 'That doesn't sound like something XY would say/do' or perhaps even something along the lines of 'is that what you would have liked to happen?'

I always think the intensely condemnatory response of some parents to childish lies of 'I can't stand lying' can be profoundly indimidating to a child and make them resort in some situations to covering up the lies with more lies, which is a concerning habit to get into as they get older. I would be wary of making too big and overloaded a moral issue of these sorts of embellishments for fear that, later on, a lie once told about a bigger, serious thing may seem to her to be completely inadmissible to and she finds herself getting deeper and deeper into trouble. We had an issue earlier this year with our 10yo telling us inccurate versions of things that had happened at school. At the time I stressed to him that I would always back him up if he was being treated unfairly, but for this I needed to be able to rely on him to give me an accurate account of events. My aim there was to present the importance of the truth in a practical as well as moral light, and he understood what I was driving at.

OneDay103 Tue 08-Sep-15 16:44:58

Yanbu op, she's 11yo so her friends are bound to be picking up on the exaggerations and she might get to be known by this as she gets older if its not sorted out now.

I have come across people like this and quite honestly people do talk behind their back about them being liars, and a reputation of not being believed. My friends husband is like this, and although its pointless stuff that he exaggerates and lies over it really gets on your nerves after a while.
nobody actually believes much of what he says, unless they're there to see themselves. My dh knows him forever and says this is how he's always been.

I feel sorry for your dd though, she has probably picked this up from your ex and if she idolises him she may be really doing it to please him?

OneDay103 Tue 08-Sep-15 16:49:52

I don't think you are projecting though op. My friend's dh does the same thing, lied about knowing a celebrity. Everyone knew he lied and said so but off course not to him.
Imagine if your dd told her friends to expect a celebrity at the game, someone would be bound to pick up that she's lying.
i think you should challenge her everytime you know shes lying, ask her details and make her realise that if you can see through it then other people will do too.

Thelushinthepub Tue 08-Sep-15 17:01:53

I was reading to see if there was any advice given on this. My BF is a liar and has been for a long time- we have been friends since secondary school but I struggle to remember if she did then.

Is constant- nothing major in fact but every story has an embellishment, usually to make it more dramatic. Ie a cheating boyfriend was a paedophile. A friend who had a baby 3 weeks early had it 3 months early. She used to have me fooled she was very smart but now her lies show she must be more on the stupid side to think anyone will believe her, I just don't think she can help herself. They're so far fetched she gets pulled up a lot but it doesn't seem to make any difference
I like her but find myself constantly questioning her and calling her out because how can you not? It makes the conversation a farce.
So no, people don't always grow out of it. She reckons she was bullied at school- i don't recall any of it, I'm not sure if that's a lie or if she has just decided those who were uninterested in Her dramas were bullies. Or maybe she was, I don't know.

Atenco Tue 08-Sep-15 19:37:51

Maybe you should encourage to write. A little bit of exaggeration does usually make a story more interesting. I'm afraid I'm a bit of pedant myself.

MakeItACider Tue 08-Sep-15 19:44:57

The lies are all about attention. And when you go into details conversations etc with her you are still giving her that attention.

I suspect remove all attention, end the conversation, when she starts lying and she will quickly stop.

SanityClause Tue 08-Sep-15 19:51:54

Have a look at Nurtureshock.

There's a chapter about lying, and I wish I had read it when my DC were younger.

I also think you are judging your DD very harshly, because you are worried she will turn out like your ex. You need to remember that what is normal behaviour in a child may well be unacceptable in an adult.

Pandora97 Tue 08-Sep-15 20:14:59

I agree that she's looking for attention and perhaps any attention is positive to her. If she's making up very obvious lies then I think she's trying to get a reaction out of you.

I have a cousin who told lies when she was a child but they were nasty lies, not silly exaggerating ones like your DD. For example, one day we were playing and she'd told my uncle (her dad) that I'd hit her round the head. I hadn't hit her and I said as much to my parents. My parents believed me and of course my uncle believed her so it caused a lot of problems. She did eventually admit that she'd lied. Another time, she told her parents that a boy at school had locked her in the toilets at lunch time which meant she'd missed her lunch. Her parents went to the school to complain and it turned out she'd been in the playground all lunch time and hadn't been locked in the toilets at all. Her parents felt pretty stupid and were obviously angry at her for potentially getting the boy into trouble for no reason. She admitted that she'd lied but she couldn't explain why she'd done it. She lied about other things that I can't remember now. Unfortunately, she did get a bit of a reputation in our family for being a liar as a child.

Anyway, the moral of this is story is that she is now a grown woman with a nice boyfriend, a professional, respectable career that she's worked hard to join and is good at and best of all SHE DOESN'T LIE. About anything. Neither has she got a reputation as a liar in our family any more. She grew out of it in her early teens. So it doesn't mean that your DD is doomed to be a pathological liar forever. I agree to try ignoring her lies for now and see if that works.

MaddyinaPaddy Tue 08-Sep-15 20:27:32

I'd just smile and say 'that's nice' and change the subject.

LokiDokey Tue 08-Sep-15 20:41:36

I had a school friend from the age of about 11 who lied constantly, really tall tales that were very clearly fabricated. Over the years the lies got worse, if you liked a band she'd met them, went to a place she'd already been there. Slowly people began distancing themselves from her and by the time she was 16 (and still coming out with jaw dropping nonsense) most of us had very little to do with her.

Fast forward some years, we're all in our forties. This lady works in a profession I have links to so I get to hear how she's doing through friends and I do see her occasionally in the supermarket. She has a reputation in her profession for out and out lies and isn't especially well liked. The times I've bumped into her have been full of how much she's earning and the house she's just bought (she doesn't realise I know how much she earns as my friend does the same role and I know she rents). Everything is bigger and better than you.

Quite why she's felt the need to spend the last 30 odd years spouting this is beyond me. When it started she was a popular girl who didn't need to boast to gain friends.

I don't know what the solution is OP but I can't help but think had she been called on it more often by her friends and family it might have fizzled out naturally.

Thelushinthepub Tue 08-Sep-15 20:49:25

That's exactly like my friend Loki

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