Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pretty Little Liars

For whatever reason, my boys are fairly truthful kids.  A especially does not lie.  Sometimes his honesty gets him in a bit of a pickle when he points out other's flaws.  White lies are totally beyond that kid.  This honesty also makes him a bit gullible. Since he doesn't lie, he really doesn't think other people lie either.  He also tends to see the good in people, which aids in other's abilities to sell him bridges in Brooklyn.  Of all the boys, D is probably the most quick to lie.  He's a bit sneakier than the other two, but at this point I know all his "tells" and can quickly get the truth out.  Sometimes we call it his little bag of troubles and all is usually confessed by the time he goes to bed at night.  I think L is still a little bit too young to really get into lying full force.

The girls are a completely different can of worms.  M lies at will.  The stories range from the fantastic to the mundane.  For awhile the boys believed everything that came out of her mouth.  Then they started calling her out on everything and pointing out the absurdity.  Now, they simply ignore it or cut to the chase with "you're lying" and leave it be.  The fake illnesses, injuries, and now weird stories about mean friends are exhausting.  It's really hard to believe anything that she says.  I try to give her the benefit of the doubt to start off, but even that is starting to wear thin.

E is a seasoned liar and manipulator.  It's been harder for me to tell when it's happening.  I think I've figured it out though.  It's usually always when she either wants to get her way with something or when she's backed into a corner about being right about something and she "swears" she read somewhere that a certain fact is true.  This morning when I pointed out to her that she had therapy at 4 tomorrow she suddenly stated, "oh...Lynne wants to just talk to just you again and I don't have to be there."  I looked at her and said, "yeah, that's not happening any more.  Lynne is your therapist and it's your time to work on your stuff."  Mysteriously, 15 minutes later, the scheduling was all worked out and my mythical appointment with her therapist went away.

I've told E that I trust her.  I tend to go along with M's silly lies.  But if I'm totally honest, I don't trust them.  I know they are lying.  I'm at a loss to know how to deal with it.  My dynamic with my own kids is just different.  Do I call the girls out on their lies all the time?  Do I just try to model positive behavior and hope it rubs off?  From the beginning we have always been honest with the girls about the big stuff (their sisters, the house, the financial issues, their dog).  I even outed Santa Claus with M because I felt like when she asked me directly I couldn't lie to her at this stage in the game.

I'm not sure where the source of the lying resides.  Maybe their therapists or mine might give me some insight as to the why so I can figure out the best way to handle it.  It's just another way in which my boys are different and I'm a bit unsure about how to parent the girls.  Our new relationship as their parents is still so fresh and fragile, I worry that I'll do something to mess it up, but at the same time I worry about them growing into adults that don't know how to be honest with themselves and others.


  1. That's really tricky. If I had to guess, I would say it comes down to something they can control. Their world was blown apart in a way they may never fully come to grips with, and they are aware of how vulnerable they are probably more than any other children they know.

    One of my children lies often (and the other two almost never). The one who lies gets lots of lectures about how it's a trust issue. I have to be able to trust my children and they have to be able to trust me. My kid seems to get the whole 'boy who cried wolf' thing, but it doesn't change the behavior. I don't know what to do about it either, other than remind all my kids why it's important to tell the truth and model the behavior I expect the best I can.

    If your girls hadn't experienced so much trauma it would be interesting to try lying to them for a week and see how they like it, but they know all about feeling insecure and in their case it would be a bad idea.

    I wonder with M if you could channel her fantasy life into writing? Give her an outlet to write and illustrate little books--give her a special shelf for all her fiction and challenge her to fill it. For E, well.... I think with teenagers you just have to remain consistent and know that it is getting through even if they can't bring themselves to let you know. Teenagers never look like they are listening, but they are. You probably just have to stay on top of the truth on your own and not confront her about it too directly. If you keep the parameters tights and always call to check she is where she says she is, etc., and make the consequences for lying clear at the outset, lying may not be as tempting.

    Good luck. If your therapist has suggestions please share them!

  2. I was going to suggest story writing as an outlet for M as well.

    I concur with Korinthia and think it's a control issue--as in it's something THEY can control in their lives. I also wonder if this is something that they did with their parents. Did E always do this to try to manipulate the situation? It's still a control issue though, isn't it? How pressured do you think she felt to be the "perfect one"? I'm seriously just asking here, no snideness or sarcasm intended. I think that would be a difficult image to live up to. Just because it looks like you're successful at something, doesn't mean that you aren't struggling and trying to find some way to fake it.

    Lil lies to get out of trouble, but I can always tell and call her on it at once. Poor thing. ;o) We've talked about the importance of always being truthful, we talk about our faith and the need to be honest, but well, she still does it. I think self-preservation is a big thing for her.

    I hope the therapists have some suggestions for you, because, I'm clueless. I'm always astounded at how well you manage in this situation. I'm tempted to tell you to treat your girls (for they are yours now) the same way you treat your boys. Sure, you parent all your kids a bit differently based on their individual needs, but there are some things that we hold all our kids accountable for, right? There are certain rules and expectations in place that are FAMILY rules.

    I know the girls are fragile--of course they are. But, I keep thinking (and I'm sure I'm WAY off-base here) that at some point you have to treat them the same way you would treat the boys. The kids are savvy and know when there are two different standards, you know?

    Ultimately, as I've said so often, parenting is the hardest job I've EVER done. There's no manual and you have to wing it so often. With the boys you've been blessed to grow with them. The girls came to you insta-angst. There is nothing angstier (nice word, huh?) than tween and teen girls. Oy. What IS the right thing to do?

    I'm rambling again, aren't I? Sorry. :oS

    Hugs to you, friend.

  3. I love the writing idea for M. Since she's been taking her medicine, she's been able to play by herself more (especially drawing and working on her fashion stuff). Writing could be another outlet. It's also good practice too for school.

    I have been trying more and more to treat all the kids the same and the girls are not liking it at all. E complains to her therapist about it and M rolls eyes and talks back. I guess that normal kid behavior though. I guess we both have to work on the trust thing. With E at this point, the trust thing really is a safety issue since she's given more freedom. With M, I want her to feel safe with us to tell the truth. D especially calls me out on treating the girls differently. It doesn't help anybody.

    It's all just still so complicated. I wish there was a "how to deal with life after you adopted your two nieces in addition to your three boys after your sister and her husband died" manual that could tell me what to do.