Welcome to my life. It's a whirlwind of kids, chaos, pets, people, family, art, and being home (most of the time; I like to get out here and there). We unschool, so the unexpected is, well, expected...

Sunday, June 13, 2010


On one of my wonderful yahoo groups email lists that I frequent, there is a thread about lying. I haven't weighed in on it yet, largely because it's one of those moments that I have so much to say, but no time to write it all out. Each email I open is one more thing I want to say something on!

Sandra Dodd has a page on her website devoted to why people lie. It's here.

One quote from that page: "when someone lies to someone else, it's because the person doing the lying actually does not trust the person being lied to."

At the most recent Life Is Good Conference, I had more than a few chats with Diana Jenner, she's over there on my list of blogs in case you want to see some more of her.

She was telling me about her habit of lying and how it had become so ingrained in her as a person that it's taken all these years to really actively work to undo it. It's not big lies, it's stupid little stuff. She had a heart to heart with one of our special guests that we brought with us to the conference about this subject specifically. I love Diana sooo much for doing that because this is one area this kid struggles, and it has EVERYthing to do with how he relates to his dad. How he relates to his dad has everything to do with that quote above. There is zero trust built in that relationship.

For a kid, the fear of getting in trouble or the fear of looking bad in the eyes of a parent is HUGE! Kids want more than anything to feel loved, especially when they are not at their best, or when they've made a mistake and are already feeling pretty darn crummy about it internally. If they tell a parent the truth and that parent reacts badly and punishing, it only validates that internal feeling of zero self worth. So many parents do that though, they punish lying harshly and cruelly.

Most kids don't want to lie. They want to get it off their chest, that feeling of having done wrong. The Catholic church recognizes this in a sanctioned way, they also sanction guilt, but that's a whole other subject and also one that came up recently. There is something very cathartic about telling the truth.

Back to this kid. It's taken a long time for him to know that he need not lie to us. It was kind of cute, in a way, how he'd do that sneaky sort of half truth lie for a long time and we'd call him on it. He half expected us to kick him to the curb for it, but we didn't, we accepted him and finally he trusts us enough not to lie. He still lies to his dad, all the time, about lots of things. I get why he does it, I really do. Mostly his technique in dealing with his dad, is complete avoidance and when that's impossible, lie.

What I think would be really really cool? If all those kids that lie to their parents, would simply tell the shocking and sometimes horrifying truth. I wish they would confront their parents head on. After all, nobody can change another person. A kid can't change the way their parents are going to react, good or bad. What they CAN do, is change the way they are as people towards their parents. If a kid can actively tell the truth in the face of an angry parent that's out to punish, it's one huge step of self empowerment.

Lying is an attempt to maintain control in a situation that feels powerless. When a kid lies it's because they know that telling the truth will get them in trouble. A parent who dishes out punishment towards their kid, is attempting to control behavior. The child's reaction of lying is an attempt to control the environment, which includes the reaction of a parent. Seen in that light, a kid can use truth as a very powerful method of self empowerment and refuse to accept the behavioral control, by doing what they want to do, the "undesirable" behavior and maintain a healthy life of truth telling.

The deal is, kids will do what they want to do anyway whether or not the parents approve. The more controlling a parent is, the MORE the kid will do what they want to do and the MORE they will lie about it. The more a parent tries to control, even really silly things, like how often a kid showers, the more deviant the behavior of the kid will be. Life is more like a contest of wills, a power struggle, and one that ALL parents will lose. The bigger the power struggle the more both parties lose. What a lot of kids don't see, is that it IS a contest and a power struggle, and that "hey, I don't have to play." It's not surprising really, since power struggles and control mechanisms are really unhealthy ways to build relationships and kids who grow up with that aren't emotionally healthy enough to recognize their own self worth and empowerment. Which is why so many kids grow up to repeat that cycle. It's why kids who grow up in abuse, often repeat that cycle.

Control is an illusion. Parents who control, are themselves out of control. Kids who are controlled feel like they have no control over themselves. It's a vicious cycle of disempowerment, in which lying plays a huge part, both lying to oneself and lying to others.

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