Teen Speak - Teens Share Why They Resort To Lying
Created by Neetu Ralhan Updated on Apr 27, 2021
“Hold on to me but also set me free. Give me roots but also give me wings.”
Welcome to a teen’s world – the wobbly world of an individual who is no more a child and not yet a grown up. A world where parents and family are no more the be all and end all of her life. The outside world is calling out and enticing your child to have new experiences, which require her to make decisions mum n dad may not necessarily approve of.
While they constantly battle between making personal choices and following parents’ instructions, teens are driven into tricky situations where lying seems the easiest alternative to chaos. When you think about it, why does anyone lie in a relationship? Fear is a common cause – fear of rejection, fear of confrontation, fear of abuse. It could be anything. And teenagers are no different. Read on to find out some of the reasons that teenagers gave us when we asked them what makes them resort to lying.
Why Do Teenagers Resort To Lying?
So, what makes a teen lie? We can always theorize over the possible causes, but then we thought, why not hear it from the teens themselves. So we spoke to teenaged children from across the country and got these thought provoking insights into what drives them to lie. (Some names have been changed on request.)
I lie to avoid criticism from Mum / Dad:13-year-old Arnav from Pune is an only child and, hence, closely watched by his parents who want to ensure they are doing everything right for him. “I know my parents love me but they can be so over protective at times, which is frustrating. They want me to do things in a certain way and if I don’t, it means a lecture, which I would rather avoid. The other day, dad told me to stop mingling with this friend of mine because he has not been getting good grades that might affect my grades. I mean, seriously! Aren’t we supposed to help out friends and stand by them? I can’t leave my friend; I am helping him with some subjects, without my dad knowing of course. Wish I did not have to lie to him, though!" How do you think it impacts a teenager when parents contradict themselves?
I lie when I have to protect someone or something:14-year-old Khwaish from Gurgaon is a level headed teenager who would prefer to spend time doing things she loves than ‘raising’ her 8-year-old sibling. “My younger brother is the Indian avatar of Dennis the Menace! We are in the same school and there is never a day when a teacher does not pull him up. And I am supposed to look out for him all the time, like I am his nannie or something. Can I tell mum all that goes on at school? Nope! - No choice but to lie!” Do we curb our teens’ growth by burdening them with responsibilities they are not ready for, expecting them to behave as grownups all too soon?
- Adults can’t handle the truth, can they! 16-year-old Raashi from Bengaluru is the quintessential ‘good’ child. Gets good grades and loves the attention she gets from doting parents and two elder brothers. “I recently went on my first ever date! (without my family’s knowledge of course). Being the only girl in the family has its flip side. I must stick to a ‘code of conduct’ that simply means I can’t do half of the things my brothers or friends do. By the way, my brother has a girlfriend and mum knows about it. So much for gender equality! - Besides, my brothers lie as well.” What, according to you, do our young ladies need more, protection or empowerment?
I lie because there is simply no other way out sometimes:“What’s a poor soul to do when parents don’t leave any option? I went to this party with friends and two boys broke into a scuffle over something silly. I have been taught all about avoiding violence and not getting into unnecessary fights and I do follow it. But I had to pitch in to save my friend or they would label me a sissy. I got a bruise and told mum I slipped. I would love to tell her the truth about how I stood up for my friend, but can’t handle the panic attack and the ban on future parties!” Says 17-year-old Ashish from Darjeeling. A decision taken solely on the basis of how mum reacts to situations. Could this have been different?
I lie to get my parents’ approval / agreement:Yatin from Noida will be 15 soon. Says his parents are ‘pretty cool’ except about a few ‘taboo’ subjects. “They understand me and let me make my own decisions. But I do lie at times, and I feel guilty about it. There was this sleepover I was really excited about. Had to tell mum it was only boys though we did have three of our female friends as well. I mean I know what they are worried about, I am no baby. My friend’s grandparents were home and girls and boys had different rooms to sleep. No fun if all of your buddies aren’t there, is it? So had to say it was an only boys’ party. Mum did find out eventually though!” With so much exposure, should we still refrain from talking about sex with our teens? Doesn’t it make them more vulnerable?
I lie because it’s the only way to get my parents to listen:9-year-old Arjun is yet to turn a teen, but is learning that lying helps him get his parents’ attention like nothing else. “One day when mom was rushing to work, I told her I had this bad tummy pain to make her stay home. She would never have stayed back otherwise. It was a fun day. She took care of me, we saw a movie together and she even made a cake in the evening. Thankfully she did not take me to the doc- phew!” In our rush to provide the best, are we ignoring the very people we are trying to make happy?
I lie just for fun!:“All of a sudden there are so many restrictions,” says 16-year-old Rushil from Ahmedabad. “My ‘open minded’ parents have been replaced by complete control freaks. So it gives me a kind of kick to do things no one knows about, especially mum n dad. Like last week I borrowed this friend’s bike and went for this super speedy ride that would completely freak out my parents if they knew. If I made a list of the things I want to do and showed it to them, they will pack me off to alien land.” It’s human tendency to rebel and want to do things that are not allowed. What do you think is the way out?
- It’s really not lying; it’s simply withholding the truth. There’s a difference! 15 year Advita from Mumbai tries her best to make sure she doesn’t have to lie to her parents. Even then… “I mean, who tells their parents everything? I am sure my parents had to hide a few things as well when they were teens. They can’t understand everything can they? Will my parents understand if I told them my best friend is a lesbian, or that some boys buy drugs right from outside the school? No. So why bother them with life’s bitter truths they do not want to acknowledge?”
Does our responsibility end with imbibing self-control and discipline in our children or do we need to be available for listening when their value system is challenged by the real world?
Have you been in a situation where you have confronted your teenaged about lying? How did you handle the situation? Tell us in the comments section below!
| Mar 18, 2013
An eye opener ... Never thought these points before blaming the teens and our kids for lying ... Thanks for this article ... it make me think now that next time when I will find any teen or kid lying... will try to find the reason behind it ... the root cause ... may be it us who make them lying...
| Mar 20, 2013
Very well written article .... i gives such insight on what and why children do the things they do .... no more can parents say ," what did we do wrong to deserve this?" .... awesome reality check this is and a blessing to the parents of the teenagers... thank you neetu!!
| Mar 22, 2013
thank you Dhara, that is the thought behind each blog that comes up on parentune - to trigger a thought somewhere and push for a gentle , positive shift in parenting. I am glad to hear that reading this got you thinking. As a parent, even i am still learning how to do things best.. Few days back I met these lovely teenaged girls who are being harassed by same aged boys. When we asked them if their parents know - on esaid my parents are too busy too deal with such things, the other said my mom does not have time , she says solve your problems on your own. and these are urban, working, modern parents so to speak..
| Apr 01, 2013
very nice article.... i have a daughter aged 18 n son 13+. both are my children but d problem is my daughter will never speak lie and my son is a smooth lier which makes me think dat wer i have gone wrong... but within minutes he will confess also... i hasve tried everything but nothing has worked. in our house my kids have a very open atmosphere but unable 2 understand why he lies?
| Apr 03, 2013
Surely a nice blog with some real good examples. I shared this so called "lying habit" with my 8 year old daughter & she accepted graciously that she tells lie just to escape my frowns & anger... though for small things like not finishing lunch at school or teacher being absent on the exam date. But after reading this, I promised her not to scold her for these petty things & she can tell me anything from wild to worst... Now lets see....
| Apr 08, 2013
I can co-relate these incidents to my teenage even though my mother was more of a friend to me. The fact was that while she was my most adorable friend when I was 10-15 years, the differences cropped up after that. Its for this reason I have decided to update myself and live my childhood and teenage once again with my son. How much ever you are friendly and open with your children , there will be a point when they will want to differ. Giving advise to them is our duty and we should do it despite all criticism. How much can we police them to the extent that we can curb their wrong doing and still let them be independent is such a thin fragile line .....so the silsila of gentle lies will still continue.... Insofar as the children do not cheat and understand that the lie is for an underlying good, then I think we should smile and let it go as "We were also once like this!!!"
| Jun 09, 2015
at times children want to protect their most passionate matter being digged out by their peers and they cloud it with a lie...... in a peer group it gets exposed in a nasty manner with parents at times deciding for kids........ i would say just let them be.... when they are honest about what they feel....... respect emotions more rather than magnifying the lie..... they do realise and learn.
| Jul 18, 2015
it did give me the perspective from the other side. after reading the article I reliased that I am happy to be a mother , who also happens to be a coach . I am completely open to my child's view and i allow him his space , decisions as I feel that they will learn from there mistakes too. I am happy that till today he has never spoken a lie. ....as far as I understand.
| Jul 18, 2015
Neha thank you for sharing this article. I have a question to ask. I have a 19 year old daughter and 14 year old son. I have always been very open with my kids always and never stopped them for doing anything. She studies in Bangalore now and stays in a namesake Girls PG. all their friends like to sit together till late in the nite and enjoy. She has told me who all take weed , smoke and drink. And of course have relationships. Last month she told me that she was going out on a date with a new boy who she recently got to know of. She said as I can't lie to you so sharing with you. Though I told her not to get distract her mind from studies, but she went ahead with that. Last week she went to a pg of boys of her class and was working there till late. She came back by herself at 1. 30 in the night. When I told her that she is risking her life by doing this so late , she said her friends came to drop her. I told this to my husband as he should be aware of this God forbid if something goes wrong. We are in Delhi and she lives in Bangalore. My husband tried making her understand but since that day it's been more than 6 days , she is not talking to us. Giving very cold reaction. It hurts real bad so see children behave this way even after being friends with them. Can't understand what to do. Plesse suggest what to do in this case. Thanks
| Aug 18, 2015
A good read. thanx Hv to b less judgemental. children need space too and we cant expect them to tell us everything. Did we do that! Our parents also claimed to be our friends. the truth is that parents keep changing gears very quickly. this makes the child unsure
| Aug 18, 2015
Hi everyone,undoubtedly a very nice article. But my pblm is that my son who is 11 yrs old has become a compulsive lier. I mean to say even for small n petty things he lies for example if on a off day form his school I ask him whether he has brush his teeth He would say yes( but he never has done it in real). So this behaviour of his really troubles me. I don't understand wat to do. Because of this we hav major issues between us
| Aug 18, 2015
Hi Rrittu. My son who is now 14 used to tell me everything but recently I have noticed that he has started to hide some things from me - mostly the ones where he feels he will get a lecture or a scolding. As Priyanka mentioned above its difficult for us to become model parents who would just let the child be for a while and not question their every action. I struggle with it everyday :) I would just like to say that I don't think a child can become a compulsive lier to the point of no return. He is just trying to give you fewer opportunities to scold him. I have seen my child do that.
| Aug 18, 2015
Let's just do one thing - let us both try and let them be for a week - trust their judgement and stop ourselves from questioning their every action. It demands huge amount of patience and self control which I feel I lack. Also haveing an only child makes you fuss over everything they do or don't do - for example brushing tehir teeth :)Feels better to know I am not alone. I will come back here after a week and share my experience. Hope you will too.
| Aug 18, 2015
Beautifully written! Teenage is the age when an adolescent is already dealing with raging hormones, bodily changes as well as going through psychological turmoil. The best way to help them pass through this phase smoothly is to be their friend. One could share what they had gone through when they were in the same stage. This will alleviate their anxieties a bit. Awesome write up Neetu Ralhan!