Liar Liar…

Lying rears its ugly head…

Okay, so I am a little psycho about lying and secrets. After working with children who were sexually abused, it is easy to worry about those magic phrases of horror “don’t tell anyone” and “It’ll be our little secret.” I have worked very hard with Monkey trying to get her to understand that we don’t keep secrets from mommy and daddy, and we don’t lie. (I understand that she will get to a point in her development when she will need to do both those things, but by then she will be old enough to know that she needs to tell me if anything abusive is going on.)

Which is why my mind is in complete panic mode tonight.

My story begins several weeks ago when Devon and I were driving back from Lowe’s with Monkey. We were laughing about something and she said “If you two don’t stop laughing, I’m gonna kick your ass.” I would love to say I was shocked but it was too funny for me to anything but snicker uncontrollably. When Devon and I had regained control, I asked Monkey where she had heard it. She got really quiet and said “I don’t want to tell you.”


That phrase began the worst night we had had in a long while. It took four hours, a grounding, loss of tv for a week, and loss of computer for a week for her to tell me where she had heard it. So my little plan of teaching my daughter not to keep secrets from me or lie to me had seemingly backfired. We had another long talk about how important it is for her to tell me the truth. We talked about trust and safety. We held firm to the consequences and continue to express the importance of truth and openess in our family.

So tonight she calmly asks me if she can say “what the fuck?”. I answered no of course and then asked where she had heard it. Sigh.

“I made it up.”

She was in her room in minutes with the directions that she would not leave her room until she told me where she heard it and had stopped lying to me. She spent twenty minutes screaming “I made it up mommy, I promise” before I walked in to her room and told her to look me in the eye and tell me the truth. She calmed down, looked me in the eye, and said “I made it up mommy, I promise.”

(At this point, I had a slight problem. The first thing she asked me after I asked her where she heard it was “Are you going to call their mommy and daddy and tell them I told?” I told her I didn’t know if I was going to call them but she still needed to tell me who said it. That’s when she claimed to have made it up.)

Why would she ask if I was going to tell someone’s parents if she made it up? I ask her after being bold faced lied to.

She says “I would really like an answer to that question.”

I tell her “I am sure you would, but you can’t keep secrets, even if I am going to call their mommy and daddy and tell them, so please stop lying to me.”

So she screams “I am not lying to you, I made it up!!”

At this point I want to bang my head against a wall until I can no longer feel pain. Instead, I tell her “fine, I will not call their parents, who said it.”

She responds “someone at school” and later gives me a name.

Now the problem is, she has been lying to me over and over and over again for the past half hour, she has begged me to believe the lie, has promised me she is telling the truth, has acted offended that I would doubt her veracity, has looked me in the eye and lied to me. I tell her, you are still grounded in your room, because you lied to me. Why did you lie?

“I wanted to be a good friend.”

SO we had a long talk about how lying to mommy and keeping secrets does not make you a good friend, and friends who ask you to keep secrets are not good friends. We talked again about safety and truthfulness and trust.

What in the world am I going to do if she keeps flat out refusing to tell me when other people have done something wrong? How could I have worked this hard to insure her safety, only to have completely screwed it up?


2 thoughts on “Liar Liar…”

  1. Caitlin is lying, too and it seems to be about different things at random. Anything you get emotionally intense about will definitely trigger lying.

    Not certain how you can take the emotional aspect out of it, other than instead of questioning directly, go around the side. Flank her, somehow, verbally.

    “That’s an interesting phrase. Did you hear that at school? What do you think it means?”

    Etc. Trying not to lead the witness here, but where else is she when she’s not with you?

    It gets her out of admitting WHO said it and focuses on where it was said and what does it actually mean. Then you get into the importance of not saying things like that and repeating things she doesn’t understand. Skip entirely the blame session on the other kid – are you really going to confront that kid’s parents? or the kid directly?

    M’s concern was protecting her friend – if you avoid triggering that you might have a better strategy.

    This, however, is just a guess on my part since my little liar will lie about whether or not the bully hit her. She says he did, teacher says they were no where near one another. Who do you believe? Did he just do it while no one was looking? If it was in the classroom, why didn’t she talk to the teacher as she was supposed to? Has he just become the receptacle for all ugliness that occurs in their room? Very likely.

    Good luck. Let me know how it goes!

  2. That is a good idea, I am trying to figure out how to get past the “are you going to tell thing.”

    Basically I am going to try involving her in what might happen. So if she comes home with a problem, she can tell me, and she and I and Daddy will sit down and figure out what to do about it together. Maybe if she has a say it will be easier to come forward?


    Sometimes I wish they came with instructions.

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