Sunday, January 18, 2015

Lies Versus Shenanigans

OK, confess.  How many of you told lies to your parents when you were teenagers?  I lied at times.  I can remember lying about my grades (remember when they couldn't be checked online?); about the company I was keeping; about what time I was going to be home.  I look back on it now that I am the parent of teens and think, wow.  Honesty and integrity were not my strong suits!  Yet today, I am honest.  This magically occurred a about the time  I became accountable to no one but myself for my behavior.  So, I guess I am (and was) fairly normal.

Sara got into a lot of trouble with her dad today.  Despite his constant nagging at both kids to remember their house keys, they often forget them and use the hide-a-key to get into his house after school.  They were disappointed a few days ago to arrive home not have a key between them, and to discover that their dad had forgotten to put the hide-a-key back in its place.  Sara's boyfriend was with them; and since he has a drivers license, he drove them all to a coffee shop to hang out until Simon got home.  At the coffee shop, they devised a story:  they had decided to go to the coffee shop for fun.  They weren't actually locked out.  They had their keys but decided not to use them.  Unfortunately the next day, Si confronted her and asked her whether it was not actually the case that she had locked herself out.  No, she did not!  She had her key the whole time!  Nathan caved, though, and confessed that in fact, they had been locked out.  Si hit the roof.  This was a serious moment for him - he had caught his daughter in a bold-faced lie.  He went ballistic:  called her "a disgusting child".

He told me all about it when I arrived to pick the kids up today.  From his perspective, she is a liar; and as such, he no longer feels that he can trust her.

Sara maintains that this was a "shenanigan" - a kid-lie that harmed no one.

When I was alone with the kids, I probed her motive for lying:  her fear of getting in trouble because she had forgotten her house key.  I explained to her that I agree that it wasn't a serious lie.  However, parents need to feel that they have a trusting relationship with their teenage kids. That's what gives us the confidence to allow more freedoms and responsibility.  It's her choice when to lie and when to tell the truth; but she undermines the confidence we have in her character.

Parents, where do you come down on this issue?  Do your kids lie to you?  What do you do when you catch them in a lie?  Is there truly a line between a lie and a "shenanigan"?


  1. I did like growing up to my mom, usually about antics my brother was doing were not the best things to be doing (like skipping school). I am not happy with myself and ashamed for those actions in my youth. I know my son would often not tell the complete truth about something or would sneak behind our back doing this or that and would often get caught. I told him that I wanted to keep trusting him about things but if I ever lost my trust in him, it would be really hard if ever to get it back so to be careful about his actions. Sure enough I did lose that trust and even now as an adult and with him doing right actions 99.9% of the time, I still have that hint of doubt about some things. So that might be something to get across to your daughter, especially if she wants to make sure she keeps your and her father's trust.


  2. I am certain that Liv lies, although she is pretty cagey about it. That apple didn't fall far. Sometimes I hear her on the phone with her friends and the conversation is much dicier than the life that she shares with me. She swears that she has never had so much of a sip of alcohol, though and I tend to believe her. She told me once that since I've been honest with her about my past addict's life, that she has a terror of taking one drink and turning into some crazed lunatic who "has to have more, more, more!" That made me laugh, but I was grateful at the same time. I hope she carried that fear into her 90's.....